Pope Francis’ Dream
So apparently I am not the only one who loves Pope Francis; and I can’t honestly say that I was surprised with his selection as TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” (I mean who else compares?). Of course it is one thing to like some one and another thing to follow that person!
In his recent (and first) Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis lays out a powerful missionary vision for the Church, “I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”
Then he asks “What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity.” Our Holy Father isn’t timid about articulating a bold new missionary age for the Church, mentioning “mission” or “missionary” a total of 129 times, and entitling the first chapter “The Church’s Missionary Transformation.” Although this is perhaps the most overwhelming theme of his first papal exhortation, you wouldn’t know it by most of the press coverage, both secular and Catholic.
Here at Family Missions Company we couldn’t be more pleased with the Pope Francis’ missionary vision for the Church. In fact, I believe you would be hard pressed to find a place where this vision is more totally embraced and lived out than right here at Family Missions Company! We are seeing what does happen when Jesus’ Great Commission is taken seriously, and it is AWESOME to behold!
- Here in the States, 250 youth encountered Jesus at our annual Faith Camp, 215 participants of our first ever Proclaim Catholic Missions Conference left with a deeper passion for missions, and thousands more heard the Gospel message shared on retreats, conferences, university campuses and in church pews around the country.
- We hosted over 300 people on 10 short-term mission trips to 6 different countries!
- Thanks to all our generous benefactors we built 90 floors for poor families, built or renovated 37 homes for as many families, repaired 3 water wells for 3 desert communities, donated 25 pigs to 25 families in need, and 3 chapels, and helped with tens of thousands of dollars in medical needs for the poorest of the poor!
- Over 900 Typhoon Haiyan affected families found physical relief and spiritual support at the hands of our missionaries!
- More than 500 bibles were distributed, 23 marriages were blessed, 26 souls were indelibly marked by the waters of baptism, 1 RCIA program was started in the diocese of that FMC works in so that Hindus and Muslims can encounter the embrace of Jesus in the Catholic Church!
- Perhaps most encouraging is the 38 new missionaries who were trained this year who will be pouring out their lives in God’s service in Ecuador, Mexico, the Philippines, India and China!
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, together we can transform the world! It is my hope and prayer that the missionary impulse desired by Pope Francis would grip our hearts and compel us to an even greater commitment to the missionary mandate of Jesus. In 2104 there is much left to do; 5,000,000,000 people are still waiting in darkness for the light of Christmas to dawn for them! Let us run with the Angelic Proclamation at the first Christmas in Bethlehem, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord” (Luke 2: 10 – 11).
By Joseph Summers, Director at Family Missions Company