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Among the international sessions scheduled in the upcoming years, one of them, in 2019, will deal with a re-examination of the missionary experience at the Assumption. That is why, here at the PGC, we revisited this question of the “Mission” at the Assumption. To be sure, our Congregation is a missionary congregation, perhaps not in the classic sense of institutes solely specializing in the mission ad extra. But, in fact, the Assumption was founded to announce the Kingdom of God, aiming far and wide. N°20 of the Rule of Life provides us with a description, « Our missionary vocation invites us to become all things to all people. This availability requires especially:
- An openness of mind and heart to the cultural, social, and religious values of people from various backgrounds;
- A willingness to receive as well as to give, based on mutual esteem and respect;
- A concern for formation, competence, and adaptation;
- A readiness to take initiatives and to be creative;
- Zeal, dedication to work, frankness, and daring. »
Actually, the question consists in developing a missionary model for our day, given the current pool of vocations. What are the real obstacles to true vocations of Assumptionist missionaries? How can we provide better preparation for the Mission? How are we to understand the logic of Mission in Evangelii Gaudium? How can our intercultural communities be missionary both in countries where established Christianity exists and in the countries where the young Churches exist, not to mention the countries of first evangelization… In the Congregation we have to provide new energy if we are to launch a renewed missionary thrust…
The second major theme on the agenda this Thursday was the formation process for religious- brothers. First of all, are we convinced that there is a place for religious-brothers at the Assumption? Not only a place, but a real need, because many of our apostolic commitments do not require priestly ministry! What profile of a religious-brother are we speaking of? What kind of formation do we foresee for them? In our vocation recruiting, we need to do a better job in presenting the place of the religious-brother. We have to fight clericalism in our communities and living contexts. We need to work at putting our vocation as brothers, one and all, at the forefront…
On Friday we spent the day meeting representatives of all of our communities in East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania), including lay members of the Alliance. We all met at Austin House, our house of philosophy in Arusha. The Superior general seized this opportunity to announce the erection of the Vice-Province of East Africa, effective on January 1, 2019! All those gathered paid close attention to the members of the Ordinary General Council who, each in his turn, went over the areas of concern of the Vice-Province: solidarity and self-financing; formation; Lay-Religious Alliance, education, vocation ministry… It was above all a wonderful day to meet and discover one another, and in some cases to renew acquaintances that were ten or more years old. We were happy to greet not only our Assumptionist brothers but also our Oblate and Orant sisters…
After this somewhat special day, Saturday we return to our ‘normal’ work schedule… Ah, our Internet connection is showing new life……perhaps we had overworked before!!!
Fr. Benoît Bigard