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Thursday, 28 June 2018 20:10

Doing Mission in the 21st Century

Written by Ron Covey
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Ron Covey – Houston Chapter

Maryknoll Affiliate groups and Parish entities have been asking what it means to do mission in the modern day. Much has been said in recent years at Affiliate gatherings about the Third Wave, agreeing that we are in a new age of mission. There was a time when mission was the special domain of those in religious life. Bishop James E. Walsh of the North American Mission Society, better known as Maryknoll, once said, “To be a missioner is to go where you are needed but not wanted and to stay until you are wanted but not needed.” Pope Francis has called upon the church to begin a new chapter in evangelization; writing in Evangeli Gaudium, he reiterates the basic reality that we are all called to mission by virtue of our baptism. Thus, we must continue to go where we are needed—at home or abroad; perhaps wanted, perhaps not.

There are as many ways of doing mission as there are baptized individuals.

How do we do this? I believe the answer is personal and that many people are doing mission and not realizing it! My prime example of this is those who volunteer in our local parishes, working in the food pantries, teaching CCD, etc. If that’s not mission, nothing is.

Affiliate and Caminando por La Paz worker Carlos Miranda and his son visit with Ron Covey, right.

Among the many forms of doing mission is the Affiliate-directed program in Guatemala City, Caminando por la Paz. What do we do? The primary focus since 2010 has been educating children in one of the most marginalized barrios of Guatemala City. Some local children are placed in local schools. We offer tutoring for any child in the neighborhood, and for many this is their only educational opportunity. Recognizing that nutrition is a major problem, we serve a nutritious meal to the kids when they come for tutoring.

The local needs are great, and we strive to do as much as possible. Working with others is an important part of any mission. Thus, we have appropriate connections to donate bread weekly to the area’s needy families. Our strong ties with “Shoes to the World” have allowed us to distribute over 400 pairs of shoes in the past two years. You can learn more about them at www.shoestotheworld.com.

At times we serve as a Catholic Worker House. Additionally, there are community service projects too numerous to mention here.

When we think of mission, we cannot help but ask, “What about spirituality?” At Caminando por la Paz, our spirit-directed attitude is: “We are here to make one little corner of the world a little better.” There are, of course, the usual outward signs of spirituality. In Central America a tradition of a weekly holy hour is common. We have a weekly hour, akin to Bible study, for adults, and a monthly directed holy hour for the local children. Occasionally we take our neighbors and staff on a spiritual journey. During these times we have relaxation and meditation, and we close with a religious exercise. You will always see our people participating in the activities of the local parishes.

You can learn a lot more about us and our activities at www.fathertomsmission.org.

A major portion of our economic support comes from sales of our premium Honduran coffee at www.fathertomsfamilycoffee.org. Proceeds additionally assist the producers in Honduras.

There are as many ways of doing mission as there are baptized individuals. We hope that learning of our mission activities will stimulate you to define your own mission.


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