Lyon (Agenzia Fides) - A new awareness of being baptized and sent, and therefore "missionary disciples" of Christ, is to be born from the roots of its own genesis and looking at the life of Blessed Pauline Jaricot: this is the vision that emerges at the conclusion of the Assembly General of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), held in Lyon from 16 to 23 May, which involved over 100 National Directors of the PMS from five continents, as well as the four General Secretaries of the PMS and President of the PMS, Archbishop Giampietro dal Toso.
The National Directors of the PMS shared their experience and an overall assessment of the week spent in Lyon with Agenzia Fides, highlighting the fruitfulness of the fraternal meeting and the exchange of best practices, as well as the spiritual enrichment of the figure of Pauline Jaricot.
Among the newly appointed National Directors is Father Kizito T. Nhunmdu of Zimbabwe, who said: "After this meeting and this gathering, I am no longer the same. I feel the trust and support from the network of the PMS, which helps us in the evangelizing mission of our local Church. Meeting with all the other delegates from different nations, cultures and languages was enriching and the good practice information we shared will be of great help to me. Also the life story of Pauline Jaricot was very moving: we are called to follow in her footsteps. Finally, I would like to emphasize that meeting the four General Secretaries in person is also very important for my future work". The Director of the PMS in Angola and Sao Tome, Father Bernardino Tchinpunduka, told Fides: "It was a blessing to see all the Churches from all over the world gathered here to deepen and live missionary spirituality. I felt, with the others, part of a story, called to continue a journey of evangelization that has lasted for two centuries".
Sr. Ines Paulo Albino, National Director of the small African state of Guinea Bissau, reiterates: "I was particularly inspired by celebrations like the beatification of Pauline Jaricot, which was simple yet profound. From her we learn attention to the universal Church, action and love in our particular Church. From the universal Church to the local Church and vice versa. We are called to build up our local community to evangelize worldwide".
According to Fr. Issac Ebo-Blay, from Ghana "it was important to live fraternity, and go back to the roots to shape the future of the Pontifical Mission Societies. And we do it in the footsteps of Pauline Jaricot: from her we have the passion inherited for the mission". Reactions were also positive among the Latin American delegates. Bishop Waldo Ruben Barrionuevo Ramirez, National Director in Bolivia, says: "The pilgrimages to Ars and to the places where Pauline Jaricot worked in Lyon are for all of us a way back to the sources: we come back renewed, in spirit, in heart, in mind, in the mission".
For Father Arias Guzman from Guatemala, meeting and sharing with other national directors is a “great gift”. I am encouraged to all row together in one direction, for the mission. At the beatification, I thought that here we can see the action of God in history: God worked in Pauline Jaricot and in all those who kept their spirits alive for two centuries. Today she can also inspire many young people". Among the national directors from Europe is Father Josè Antonio Mendese Rebelo (MCCJ) from Portugal, who states that "the encounter in presence and the information about the best practices were very important. I believe that we must creatively adopt new forms of missionary animation and new forms of fundraising, even beyond the general fundraising associated with World Mission Day. We learn from Pauline Jaricot that the initiative of one person, one baptized person, in this case a young woman, can change the world. Pauline's intuition has changed the history of the Church and the life of the Churches in the mission countries. Today, as we reflect a lot on synodality, we are all called to take seriously the contribution of the laity in the Church". The National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Latvia, Father Rihards Rasnacis, an expert in the field of new technologies and social media, remarked: "For me it was the first gathering I attended; we really felt like part of the PMS family, part of a worldwide community that makes the universality of the church tangible. At the Beatification Mass I saw much joy on the faces of those present. It was truly edifying to see the Spirit of God bringing peace, fullness of peace and joy. This is the basis of the mission: I carry this joy in my heart to share with so many people, including on the digital continent, where the Church is called to evangelize".
Fr. Maciej Bedzinski, from Poland, agrees: "We have received many blessings, such as the pilgrimage to the places of Pauline Jaricot and the sites of Pauline Jaricot and the parish priest of Ars. The meeting with the other National Directors was useful and fruitful. We have an authentic experience of the Church and listening to the gospel, which reminded me of my calling to be a missionary disciple and to devote my life to evangelization every day". Among the delegates from Asia, Father Bento Barros Pereira, National Director of East Timor, was particularly enthusiastic about the gathering and "the continental exchange that helped us to reflect on and consciously respond to the challenges and issues on the agenda". From Pauline Jaricot - he continued - we draw a spirit, a missionary passion: it was important to know her better to carry out our mission today". Father Paul Trairong Multree, who came from Thailand, emphasized "fraternity, lived unity in diversity proper to Christ's Church, and full communion sharing the missionary spirit".
In Oceania, "this experience will teach us to cultivate the dreams, the desire for goodness and happiness that Christ puts in the heart of every human being," said Father Bernardino Espiritu (SVD), National Director of New Zealand. "I was struck - he continues - by the story of Pauline Jaricot, who was humiliated, exploited and forgotten at the end of her life and who is now recognized by the Church as blessed. She teaches us all to pursue our dreams, to listen to the voice of the Lord in our hearts and to follow it and put it into practice. Today the new blessed tells us: the mission continues".
And Father Victor Roche SVD, National Director of the PMS in Papua New Guinea, comments: "We experienced the encounter as a gift from God. And we received the precious gift of Pauline Jaricot, who guided us on our missionary journey, which begins again today, for which we are grateful to God, who carries out his mission in our history". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 24/5/2022)