Four days to reflect on the present and the future of missio ad gentes in the current context, with the transformations taking place in the world and in the life of the Church. The National Days of Missionary Formation and Spirituality promoted by the National Office for Missionary Cooperation among the Churches (CEI) took place in Assisi at the Domus Pacis (25-28 August). The event, now in its twentieth edition, was dedicated in particular to deepening the themes contained in the slogan of the World Mission Day 2022 “Lives that speak” and took place in the presence (120 participants) and in streaming (over 60 participants).
Listening. Don Giuseppe Pizzoli, general manager of Missio, introduced the works recalling the importance of “listening to” the witnesses, bearers of the seeds of the Gospel despite the many current crises. He talked about it don Mario Antonelli, episcopal vicar for education and celebration of the faith of the diocese of Milan: “we are facing a scenario of ‘change’ – said Antonelli -. In Italy and in particular in some regions, the churches are not so empty and this leads us to think that the crisis is still a long way off. Instead the risk is present, as is the challenge of knowing how to renew fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus ”.
“Guests more than sent”. On the second day, Friday, after the much appreciated lectio of the theologian Laura Verrani on the figure of Saint Paul, don Michele Roselli, director of the catechetical office of the diocese of Turin, spoke of “a theology of God’s grace and the universality of salvation: there is a word of grace that God continues to address to the world. Life is a theological place because in it you can hear the echo of the Word ”. In the afternoon a long meeting on the Church today and future prospects in relation to the mission, with the interventions of Sister Luigia Cocciasuperior of the Comboni missionaries, who underlined:
“The mission is destined for any man or woman, only in this way can we make a journey that humanizes those we meet and ourselves. Time will lead us to be small Christian communities immersed in society like leaven in the dough ”.
Don Cesare Baldi of the diocese of Novara, former director of Caritas Algeria, wondered, how thead gentes 32 years after Redemptoris Missio with many important indications “from the patrimony of conciliar teachings, to rediscover a strong drive for the spiritual unity of humanity”. Then the testimony of Sara Foschiof the John XXIII Community, is followed Daniela Chiara, little sister of Jesus, who recounted the mission among the Roma in a nomad camp where the missionaries live in a caravan: “rather than ‘sent’ we want to be guests, indeed sisters. The Gospel is living with people to whom no one listens ”. The reality of the communities and the collaboration of the laity in the life of the Brazilian Church was at the center of Fr. Olindo Furlanetto, fidei donum for 30 years in Brazil. “I left with great enthusiasm and I realized that it was the poor of that region who evangelized me”.
Change pace. Saturday 27 August opened with a Mass presided over by Monsignor Giuseppe Satriano, archbishop of Bari and president of the Missio Foundation. “Let’s look together for the meaning of this time as a Church, as Christians who await the Lord – said the bishop – sometimes delegating the solution of problems to this arrival. But God’s signs will always amaze us. The Church must change pace, she must live in the now and spend her missionary spirit with the ability to look to the future ”. The theologian Serena Noceti he recalled that “60 years later, we are still in the great construction site of Vatican II and some major issues such as that ofad gentes they are at the center of the challenge of the universal Church ”.
The reform of Pope Francis is, in his opinion, an expression of the conciliar baggage, it moves on a missionary paradigm and on synodal practice.
In the afternoon, the session “Collegiality and Synodality as part of the nature of the Church” was dedicated to ecumenism. Commenting on the testimonials of Ilenya GossWaldensian pastor, and of Alexandru Marius Crisanresearcher for ecumenism at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu in Romania, Fr Cristiano Bettega, Episcopal Delegate for the Testimony and Social Commitment Area of the Archdiocese of Trent, recalled that “Orthodox, Waldensians and Catholics use the word synod but not with the same meaning, and in practice there are important points to focus on. We will have to put into practice the synodal practice, as a manifestation of the apostolicity, of the plurality of the Church ”.
Universal Church. Closing the proceedings, Don Pizzoli, citing the conciliar decree Ad Gentes which highlights the cooperation and exchange between the Churches, declared: “in the Italian Church there are 1,500 diocesan priests in convention from other countries, half of whom are included in parishes for pastoral service; there are also about 5,000 religious and very many religious and lay people who come from other cultures and Church experiences. We must learn to live with this reality, allow ourselves to be educated: we are always and only one Church, no longer Eurocentric but globalizing and globalized, in a universal word ”.
Attilia Bean Honey *
* Popoli e Missione editorial staff