YOUTH WORKSHOP ON MISSION BEFORE SYNOD 2023
To mark the beginning of the Synod on Synodality Assembly on the 4th of October 2023, the Vatican organised several activities in Rome. On the 30th of September 2023, there were over twenty (20) workshops organised in different places in Rome on different topics and an Ecumenical Prayer Virgil at Saint Peter’s Square.
These workshops brought together young people from all over the world. I participated in the Workshop held at the Trinità dei Monti, which had mission as its theme. It was a great pleasure to be welcomed by some members of the Coordinating Team of the Together Gathering of God’s People group. In the introduction given at the beginning of the Workshop, Mission was defined in general terms before delving into what it entails, especially for young people today.
Rev. Elijah M. BROWN, the General Secretary and CEO of Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and myself were invited to share our experiences in Mission. I found this to be a very good initiative because it was really an ecumenical encounter in which we shared our life not only as Missionaries but also as Christians looking forward to participating more in God’s Mission. It was a good witness of God’s love and being open to one another as we shared our missionary experiences. For sure, it was a deep and enriching experience.
I consider this an excellent platform to share with young people from various countries and cultures who wish to serve God in multiple ways. Many of them expressed the desire to offer themselves as Missionary Volunteers in their particular churches despite the doubts and fears that they experience continuously. For some, it was the right occasion to share their opinions so that together, we can search for better solutions to respond to God’s Mission and the challenges it presents in our present World.
Some questions that were asked during the Workshop
As a young Catholic Missionary Priest, I lived this great moment of sharing and encounter with other Christians with a positive attitude and much hope for the future. For example, It was so encouraging to hear various questions that were asked during the Workshop. Here are some selected questions which I paraphrased:
“How can we respond to the message of the so called “prosperity gospel”?
“Why is it that often we notice that the churches are empty, and yet some World Youth Gatherings such as the WYD many young people attend? How do we explain this?”
“Sometimes I feel that I’m so young and unexperienced and somehow limited in the field of Mission. What advise would you give me about this?”
“In my Country Egypt, I experience rejection. How can I face it as a Christian?”
“Social Media is attracting a lot of young people, as Missionaries, how do we approach this challenging reality?”
“How can I develop a personal relationship with God?”
“What are some ways to deal with “seasons of dryness” in one’s life of prayer?”
“How can we manage to be “radical christians” and at the same time deal with accessibility?”
“What would you say about Mission and Conversion?”
We tried to respond together to the above questions based on our experiences. For instance, in my case it was important to respond according to my missionary experience, and explain more on the official teaching of the Church on certain topics. It is important to note that questions such as these are so helpful as we continue participating in God’s Mission. They play an essential role as an “eye-opener” so as to help us discover the new horizons of Mission and how to be ready to read and interpret the “signs of time” in our World full of challenges today. They give us more energy to move on with God’s Mission and to be attentive to what young people are going through in our World today. In short, it was a wonderful and extraordinary experience for me as a Young Catholic Missionary Priest.
Some ways to overcome difficulties and challenges in Mission today
Looking at today’s context in which a good number of difficulties and challenges affect the Mission either directly or indirectly, it is essential to respond contextually and be able to analyse and evaluate the situation. For instance, some of these difficulties and challenges are associated with religious pluralism, religious indifference, insecurity, the multiple ways of understanding and living the Christian faith inside Christianism, etc. Hence, what is vital in this case is to cultivate the passion and love for God’s Mission. Always remember that it is “God’s Mission” and not our mission in the first place. As Pope John Paul II states: “The internal and external difficulties must not discourage us. What matters is, like in every aspect of Christian life, is the faithfulness that comes, that is from the certainty that we are not the Protagonists of the Mission, but Jesus Christ and His Spirit” (RM 36). This encourages us to face today’s reality with confidence and hope that God accompanies us as we continue serving Him. In addition, Pope Francis, at the Ecumenical Virgil Prayer that was held on the 30th of September 2023, invited us to learn to be silent in prayer so that we could let the Holy Spirit speak to us and guide us in accomplishing God’s Mission.
Fr. Humphrey MUKUKA, M.Afr.