Pope Francis has requested that the whole Church celebrate an Extraordinary Missionary Month. We know that the month of October is dedicated to the missions. This year, however, the Pope wants to give a special focus in order to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XV’s encyclical, Maximunm illud which developed the theme of the propagation of the faith throughout the world.

The central theme of this extraordinary missionary month is: Baptized and sent, the Church of Christ on Mission in the World. As a way of involving all the faithful in the proclamation of the gospel, the celebration of this month will help us first to rediscover the missionary dimension of our faith in Jesus Christ, a faith graciously bestowed on us in baptism (Pope Francis, Message for World Mission Day 2019).

As members of the Congregation of the Mission we are called to celebrate this month in a unique manner that will allow us to rediscover the spirituality that identifies us as members of the Congregation of the Mission and, at the same time, will enable us to renew our commitment to our missionary spirit.

Pope Francis has pointed out four dimensions that we are invited to live during this missionary month. In presenting these dimensions I want to reflect on them from a Vincentian perspective because each of those dimensions is related to our language, our identity and our charism as members of the Congregation of the Mission and of the worldwide Vincentian Family.

[1] A personal encounter with Jesus Christ alive in the Church: This dimension has deep roots in our spirituality and in our identity. Through our reflection on Vincent de Paul’s life and work we discover a very unique way of encountering Jesus Christ. We know that Vincent encountered and followed Jesus Christ, the evangelizer and the servant of the poor. Like Vincent, we are invited to recover the centrality of Jesus Christ from whom flows our missionary spirit. We recall here the words that Vincent wrote to Monsieur Portail: Remember, Monsieur, we live in Jesus Christ through the death of Jesus Christ, and we must die in Jesus Christ through the life of Jesus Christ, and our life must be hidden in Jesus Christ and filled with Jesus Christ, and in order to die as Jesus Christ, we must live as Jesus Christ.[1]

[2] The witness of the saints and martyrs and the confessors: With regard to this second dimension, Father Tomaž Mavrič, CM, in his letter of September 3, 2018, written on the occasion of the feast of Saint Vincent de Paul, invited us to deepen our relationship with the saints, blessed, and servants of God of the Vincentian Family. This would be a good time to read the life of those who have proceeded us … and to do this reading from a missionary perspective. Hopefully we will discover many elements that are as relevant now as they were in previous eras. For example, the inculturation of Saint Justin de Jacobis or Saint Gabriel Perboyre, the witness of Father Fortunato Velasco Tobar (or the witness of any of the other martyrs from the time of the Spanish Civil War … all of whom made the international dimension of the Congregation and of the Vincentian Family more visible). In his letter, Father Tomaž refers to the following passage from Vincent de Paul’s writings: So that, my dear confreres, is what we have to do, that is, to thank His Divine Majesty for all the gifts and graces He’s been pleased to grant all the saints in general who are now in heaven, and to each of them in particular, for the good use they’ve made of those same graces and for their perseverance in the practice of good works until the end. We should thank God for all that because they practiced so well the first lesson Our Lord taught them and us: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 5:3) (CCD:XI:382).

[3] The third dimension that Pope Francis places before us is that of formation. This has been an important theme for us from the time of our establishment as a Congregation. Our Constitutions are very clear in stating that every member is called to be a formator (a formator of the clergy and a formator of those wishing to enter the Congregation). Today, we are called to be formators of the members of the many different branches of our Family and in that manner enable them to become more affective and effective evangelizers of the poor.

[4] The fourth dimension, that is also related to our chrism, is that of missionary charity. Here we recall the words that Vincent spoke to his confreres when he said that they entered the Congregation not only to evangelize the poor but to assist them in their material needs. To act in that manner is to preach the Gospel by word and by work, and that is the most perfect way; it is also what Our Lord did (CCD:XII:78). We are not only called to respond to the spiritual needs of those who are poor but rather we are to carry out our mission with love: we have been chosen by God as instruments of his immense, paternal charity, which is intended to be established and to expand in souls (CCD:XII:214). This is something that must be done at all times: charity cannot remain idle; it impels us to work for the salvation and the consolation of others (CCD:XII:216) … we have been sent not only to love God but to make God loved (CCD:XII:215).

During this extraordinary missionary month, we want to reflect on our charism from the perspective of those four dimensions. In this way we will be animated to give witness to our joy as missionaries while rediscovering our missionary spirit and our commitment to evangelize in season and out of season.

There are many events that we must be attentive to during this month: the desire of our superior general to have 1% of the confreres involved in missions ad gentes, the publication of new missionary call (2019) which will present new missionary needs and places, the Pan-Amazon Synod which invites us to renew our commitment to care for our common home. During this month let us allow the Spirit to renew our Christian commitment and our missionary vocation.

Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM
Eastern Province, USA

Written by: Jorge Luis Rodríguez, CM
Director of the Office of Communication


Official Site: http://www.october2019.va/en.html


[1] Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conference, Documents, translators: Helen Marie Law, DC (Vol. 1), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 1-14), James King, CM (Vol. 1-2), Francis Germovnik, CM (Vol. 1-8, 13a-13b [Latin]), Esther Cavanagh, DC (Vol. 2), Ann Mary Dougherty, DC (Vol. 12); Evelyne Franc, DC (Vol. 13a-13b), Thomas Davitt, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Glennon E. Figge, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), John G. Nugent, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]), Andrew Spellman, CM (Vol. 13a-13b [Latin]); edited: Jacqueline Kilar, DC (Vol. 1-2), Marie Poole, DC (Vol. 2-13b), Julia Denton, DC [editor-in-chief] (Vol. 3-10, 13a-13b), Paule Freeburg, DC (Vol. 3), Mirian Hamway, DC (Vol. 3), Elinor Hartman, DC (Vol. 4-10, 13a-13b), Ellen Van Zandt, DC (Vol. 9-13b), Ann Mary Dougherty (Vol. 11-12 and 14); annotated: John W. Carven, CM (Vol. 1-13b); New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2014, volume I, p. 276.  Future references to this work will be inserted into the text using the initials [CCD] followed by the volume number, followed by the page number, for example, CCD:I:276.