Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Sunday, 02 June 2019 22:42
MISSION ONE HEART MANY VOICES – BIENNIAL CATHOLIC MISSION CONFERENCE
Every two years there is a Catholic Mission Conference. This year the title was Mission One Heart Many Voices.
Roger Purcell MSC, Director of the MSC Mission Office reports.
The MSC attending were Vince Caroll and a staff member of Downlands, Chris, Leo Wearden, Pat Mara and myself. Each one decided on the sessions and topics he wanted, and we did not meet up much during the day, and often at night we were in different places, and tired. So unfortunately, we did not interact with it too much.
My own reflections arise out of my situation as a “returning resident” to Australia with all the difficulty of re-entry and reassimilation into Australian culture and society. For this the Conference was very good as it looked at the Mission of the Australian church, within the Australian situation. One comment here is that it is very Australian centred and lacks the “ad gentes” perspective.
For me, this is very different from my experience of the last 40 years and the work I have been doing for church renewal in the Melanesian context. In terms of church renewal in the light of Vatican II theology and spirituality, I think we (Melanesian) are further ahead. It might be more accurate to so ‘different’ in many aspects.
For the Conference the many social issues were front and centre, and in this I was on a high learning curve being a stranger to the Australian scene. Part of this was the consciousness and awareness of the church about these issues and the many things being done, and the commitment of people and resources in this area. In this the Australian church would be ahead.
The other thing that struck me was the vision look forward to building a church different from the past and growing out of the present. I think the vision was short sighted (2020) and what was envisaged is simply not achievable, given the reality of the political, social and economic realities. However the look forward and dream of something better and different was good to see and experience.
On the MSC side there was some discussion about our own Mission Conference. Our last meeting was either 2013 or 2015 and in conjunction with the Catholic Mission Conference. Part of our discussion suggested that be 2021 there would not be enough of us in “the missions”, i.e. ad gentes, or too old to have a dream …”and old men will dream dreams …” On the other hand it was suggested that our younger men are on mission and “see visions”, and are concerned for mission, whether in our own land, or in other lands, or with “foreigners” in our cities and towns. So it could be worth looking ahead to another MSC Mission Conference in September 2021. We will need further discussion on this as time goes on in the not too distant future.
Any further discussion or suggestions in this direction would be helpful. I could drive this from my position here, and see we would need to start the process sooner rather than later.
You may like to read further about the conference.
Diversity, inclusivity and joy were the standout themes, with a few surprises coming on the opening day of the Mission: one heart many voices conference in Sydney.
Dr Carol Zinn ssj and Bishop Paul Tighe delivered strong keynotes on the first morning of the fourth biennial conference, both of which urged the 400 participants gathered at the SMC Conference and Function Centre to take an open, welcoming and joyful approach to living the Gospel.
Dr Zinn spoke of leading mission, engaging the audience with an immersive presentation which included singing and audience participation. She spoke of the importance of trust.
‘Leadership for mission is about trust,’ she said. ‘Without having that relationship of trust with God, it is almost impossible to lead mission.’
The first part of Dr Zinn’s address focused on living the joy of the Gospel, the focus of Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and a key theme of the conference. Critical to doing so, she said, is choosing love over fear, inclusivity over exclusivity, and mercy over judgement.
‘We have a choice of how we’re going to be and how we’re not going to be, and we have to know the difference,’ she said.
Acknowledging that it is sometimes difficult to do mission in our home context and step out as Jesus did, Dr Zinn encouraged the audience to witness. ‘We must witness to the Gospel if we are to be prophetic in our response,’ she said. ‘Practicing the Gospel requires a mutuality response; humility and curiosity are necessary to break down polarisation.’
Bishop Paul Tighe and Dr Carol Zinn ssj engage with the audience during a conversation on day 1
Bishop Tighe, the Vatican’s Secretary for the Pontifical Council on Culture, spoke of the challenges facing the Church in today’s digital world. ‘One of the things I’ve found is that there are great things happening at local levels, and that is the richness of our Church,’ he said.
‘Among the main challenges we face is the question, what does it mean to be Church in the geography and demography of the digital world?’
The answer comes in authenticity, witness and what we communicate, he said. ‘When we communicate, we are communicating the person of Jesus. It is a person, not just a message.’
Ironically, the complexity of the digital age can still be effectively met with simplicity, as proven in an example that caught Monday’s audience off-guard. ‘The single greatest communication tool the Church has is still a smoke signal,’ Bishop Tighe said.
‘Thousands of TV cameras watch a chimney for days, sometimes weeks, during the election of a new pope.’