Chapter Communication - 9 June 2022
As the chapter progresses, the topics discussed become more and more condensed. Teams have started to present texts to the plenary. And the drafting committee is increasingly busy examining them and refining the language in order to come up with the best possible expression of the fruit of the capitulants’ sharing. Today four components of our mission were presented to the plenary assembly: our charism and the evangelical counsels, sharing our charism with the laity, primary evangelisation and integrity of ministry.
CHARISM AND EVANGELICAL COUNSELS
The capitulants returned to the Missionaries of Africa’s oath which contains the central core of our missionary charism. We are called to better understand the oath, its content, its demands, its challenges, its limitations and its implications for our lives. It is crucial that we perceive more clearly what prevents us from living our oath in an integral, authentic and prophetic way.
SHARING OUR CHARISM WITH THE LAITY
More and more people are approaching us, Missionaries of Africa, with the desire to live our charism with a deeper commitment than that of practical and professional collaboration. They seek a spirituality that motivates them. They are attracted to our missionary charism and spirituality. The discussions focused on how to share our charism with the laity, what kind of group/association will emerge, our link with the group and our contribution to support it, especially in the beginning. What will be the mission of this group? How do we proceed in the creation of such an association so that it becomes autonomous? What are the steps and implications for us as a society?
The provincial could initiate this task where it is possible to do so and according to the concrete context of the place. As the provinces are quite varied, it is likely that a particular group will identify more with the priorities of the Missionaries of Africa in that place.
Primary evangelisation shaped us from the first days of our foundation in Algeria. It required us to be sent to areas of Africa that had not yet been touched by the Gospel message. Places of first evangelisation still exist in Africa, places inhabited by large non-Christian majorities, or places where the local Church has not reached sufficient maturity to incarnate the Christian faith in its environment.
We put into practice the requests of our founder to insert ourselves as best we could into the African communities that welcomed us. This is how we learned the language of the people, their customs. This enculturation also shaped us in our contacts with the people. Today, we realise that it is essential to insist on the different elements of enculturation, such as learning the language, the stability of our communities. We want to immerse ourselves more in the culture of the people who welcome us so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may take root there. We are called to deepen our gospel witness.
INTEGRITY OF MINISTRY
In considering the integrity of ministry, the Chapter members knew that they were dealing with a very delicate subject. Delicate because it reveals our vulnerability and a lack of authenticity on our part, because it touches on everything in our behaviour that, in one way or another, generates suffering in those around us and those who collaborate with us. Delicate because it affects the credibility of our missionary witness. Delicate also because it affects several components of our life: relationships with people, our leadership style, our managemet of material goods, or the way we live our friendships, our relaxation, not forgetting our prayer and community life. All of these require constant attention to our discipline and lifestyle.
We recognise the immense work that the Society has done in recent years in the area of integrity of ministry, both within our Society and with the communities we serve. We are determined to strengthen our commitment to the prevention and protection of minors and vulnerable persons, and to work in the line that Pope Francis is outlining for the whole universal Church.