During this period, many confreres go for home leave and then return refreshed to continue with their mission. There are also several ordinations taking place which means that our young confreres will soon join us in the mission. Most of our communities will be receiving stagiaires. This means that most of our communities are being reconstituted and they will be discussing their community project. I find it an opportune moment to remind ourselves of the Chapter 2016 and its guidelines for our life and mission. The document “New Wine in New Wineskins” of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life notes that, “With the passing of time, some entanglements have become increasingly complex and paralyzing for the consecrated life and its institutions. The state of accelerated change risks ensnaring the consecrated life, forcing it to live in emergency mode rather than keeping the horizon in sight. It seems at times that the consecrated life is almost completely wrapped up in day-to-day management or in merely surviving. Such a way of facing reality is Detrimental to a life that is full of meaning and capable of prophetic witness. The continuous management of increasingly compelling emergencies consumes more energy than one might think. Unfortunately, it runs the risk of becoming fully absorbed in containing problems rather than in envisioning itineraries.” (#8)
The observation above is true for our province where we are working hard to fulfil the mission entrusted to us with the risk of feeling satisfied with doing the routine things for the flock already in our Christian communities. We are afraid or seem to resist taking the risk of trying out new things that are being proposed to us in the name of being too few and too busy. It is important to pause in our missionary activity to discern whether we are answering the questions that the people and the world of today are asking. An apostle is someone sent with a mission for a people and our founder sent us to be apostles and nothing else. What is our mission today?
In order to discover the mission entrusted to us today we need to listen to the Chapter 2016. The Chapter observed that: “The ideals of community life and teamwork that drew many of us to become Missionaries of Africa. These ideals have since the beginning proved to be strength, support and source of richness for our apostolate. The Lord himself sent his disciples out in groups (Lk. 10:1). The Chapter praised God for this grace and commits us to bringing it to fruition over the next six years, at the service of a truly prophetic mission characterized by care for those who are discarded by society. In a modern and changing world, the Chapter invites us to be creative in our missionary approach and commitments, bearing in mind the need to adapt to new realities. We are invited to make use of today’s tools and modern means of communication used by our contemporaries. In doing so, we should always remember that we are apostles.”
It is time to thank God for what we are doing until now but also to ask for the gift of his Spirit to liberate us from the paralyzing fear and empower us to be more daring in opening up to the new realities proposed to us. We need to pay particular attention to the “Existential Peripheries” as an essential criterion for our community project. These peripheries can be found wherever we live and work. This should also be considered in proposing the apostolic project to our stagiaires and collaborators in mission. I take this opportunity to thank you all for the work being done in spite of our reduced numbers. Let us pray that the Spirit of God will continue to inspire and strengthen us to be truly prophetic apostles in Eastern Africa.
Aloysius Ssekamatte, M.Afr.
Provincial of East African Province