Saturday, January 19, 2019
Following extensive consultation with the local churches, we are pleased to present this guide for the Extraordinary Missionary Month – October 2019, entitled Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on mission in the world. It is a gift made up of contributions from Christians all over the world and addressed to Christians all over the world. It is truly a work of ecclesial communion, made possible thanks to the cooperation of the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) around the world. [See attachments]
Following extensive consultation with the local churches, we are pleased to present this guide for the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019, entitled Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on mission in the world. It is a gift made up of contributions from Christians all over the world and addressed to Christians all over the world. It is truly a work of ecclesial communion, made possible thanks to the cooperation of the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) around the world. This resource grew out of a “synodal” desire to serve the local churches in their need for missionary formation and inspiration, and to prepare and live the Extraordinary Missionary Month called for by Pope Francis on the occasion of the centenary of promulgation of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud (November 30, 1919).
The texts presented here will serve to inspire the creativity of the local churches and the Christians who make them up by confronting the challenges of evangelization, starting from the missio ad gentes and the context in which it happens. Since this is a resource and not a textbook, this guide does not pretend to be exhaustive in its content or structure, nor does it wish to be a complete study of the theology of or catechesis on the missio ad gentes. We tried to respect, as much as possible, the simplicity, the contents, and the style of the many contributions received in different languages. This is not a prescriptive text; our true intention is to inspire, to offer suggestions, and to stimulate local creativity. In this way, we believe that we can faithfully fulfill the role that the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP) and the Pontifical Mission Societies carry out at the service of the universal ministry of the Pope, who, as Successor of Peter, has at heart the faith and mission of all the churches scattered throughout the world.
The parts of this guide correspond to the spiritual dimensions indicated by the Holy Father Pope Francis when he called for this Extraordinary Missionary Month: the personal encounter with Jesus Christ alive in the Church, the witness of saints and martyrs of the mission, the catechetical formation in mission and missionary charity. The text is being published simultaneously in English, Italian, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. The edition of reference, with regard to content, is the Italian one.
Following a collection of official texts of the Holy Father Pope Francis and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, readers will find an essay on mission by Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, Adjunt Secretary of the CEP and PMS President. My initial considerations on the missio ad gentes are open and non-exhaustive reflections intended to help us better understand this topic, its foundations, its crisis, and its paradigmaticity for the whole Church.
PART ONE, “Encountering Jesus Christ,” offers spiritual meditations of a missionary nature on the Lectionary readings of daily Mass for the thirty-one days of October 2019. They can be used as part of one’s celebration of Holy Mass or in other moments of prayer and formation.
PART TWO, “Mission Testimonies,” provides brief biographies of many women and men, saints and martyrs, canonized or not, that various local churches throughout the world have proposed to us as models and intercessors in faith and mission. For more information on any of these figures, readers should feel free to contact the national offices of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the countries of reference.
PART THREE, “Thoughts on Mission,” presents a series of important essays, offered by the local churches and the national directors of their Pontifical Mission Societies, for formation and pastoral guidance in mission. Without attempting to offer a comprehensive theology or complete proposals, these texts contain ideas and suggestions for formation meetings on mission.
We invite readers to undertake a full and contextualized reading of the prophetic contents on the missio ad gentes offered by the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud . Moreover, for our commitment to prayer, reflection, and missionary formation, we also suggest a reading of other magisterial texts such as Lumen Gentium, Ad Gentes, Nostra Aetate, Gaudium et Spes, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio, Dialogue and Proclamation, Deus Caritas Est, Evangelii Gaudium, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Having reviewed and approving the contents, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies are pleased to offer the texts published here to those who wish to make them a part of their preparation for and implementation of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019. [This team consisted of six members, two representatives of the Pontifical Mission Societies, two from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and two from the Pontifical Urbaniana University.]
This guide is the work of many hands (not a single author), and it has been produced through the careful work of collection, analysis, and selection done by the October 2019 Working Team. Anyone can feel free to use all or parts of it, according to ecclesial circumstances and local needs. For further information, please refer to the following websites, where additional material can be found: www.october2019.va, www.fides.org, and www.ppoomm.va.
We offer our thanks to all those who helped to compose and prepare this Guide.
Vatican City, November 30, 2018
Fr. Fabrizio Meroni
Missionary priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU), Director of the International Center for Missionary Animation (CIAM) and of the Fides News Agency at the Pontifical Mission Societies and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.