I am delighted to be writing these few words to you from Ougadougou. I came here to take part in a training workshop for the Safeguarding Delegates for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults offered by our Committee for the Integrity of Ministry. This workshop takes place in the context of my first year as a member of our General Council, a year where I had a lot to discover and a lot to learn.
In fact, this is the third year in a row where I have had to adjust to new surroundings and to new responsibilities. After four years as a formator in Jinja, I had the chance to go to our Institute de Formation Islamo Chrétienne in Bamako from 2014 to 2015. This gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge on Islam and to make my acquaintance with West Africa about which I knew very little given that my earlier years of mission were in Zambia, India and Uganda.
This experience at IFIC was in view of a job that was waiting for me in my native country, at our Centre Afrika in Montreal. Even though I was on home territory, I had to take some time to look, listen and go out and meet people in my new environment. Then, all of a sudden, following our General Chapter last year, I find myself in our Generalate in Rome. Now, I am asked to integrate and involve myself, not in a fixed place, but to expand my field of vision incorporating the whole of our Missionary Society and its multiple missionary commitments wherever we may be throughout the world. On top of all that, I am faced with the challenge of learning Italian. In brief, this has meant many changes in a short space of time and that means that I ought not to lose sight of some essential elements in my life.
However, what are these essential elements? In my opinion, it is undoubtedly, what comes first in the program of all our daily activities. I would also say that it allows us to breathe a bit in order to find strength to continue, to go forward despite our worries, to remain open to new things. It also involves knowing how to be patient with oneself when one is called to put down new roots. Personally, the essential element, which never ceases to give us new strength, a new ardour, finds its source in our relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Saviour, our Master.
In fact, does it not say in article 1 of our Laws and Constitutions that the aim of our Missionary Institute is to “proclaim the Gospel to the peoples of the African world”? It is evident that, to share this Good News of Jesus Christ, who died and who rose again for us, one needs to take time to welcome it oneself every day. This essential element consists of a spiritual life that is very well described in article 26 of our Constitutions and Laws, which presents it as, “Our spiritual life is our daily apostolic life lived out in accordance with the Gospel and in active docility to the Holy Spirit. It is an encounter with God in prayer and in the service of mankind. It means growth in holiness through the action of divine love poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 5, 5).” At our 28th General Chapter, after defining our positive subject, which echoes our attachment to Christ and that we are missionaries and therefore sent, we then discussed, reflected and shared on this essential point of our spirituality. In this edition of the Petit Echo, many confreres shared their views and experiences regarding their relationships with God. May this testimony inspire and encourage us to never cease to stay united with God, to grow in holiness and to press forward together because «umucinshi wa nseba: ukwiminina pamo!” that is to say, “It is the wisdom of small birds to know how to stay together.”
Martin Grenier, M.Afr.
(Petit Echo nr. 1078)