So apparently I am not the only one who loves Pope Francis! Of course it is one thing to like someone and another thing to follow them and what they ask of you! I was very blessed that his monthly evangelization intention for the month of July was for the laity, serving around the world as missionaries! What an amazing confirmation to our call as missionaries serving around the globe.
In his recent (and first) Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis lays out a powerful missionary vision for the Church, “I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”
Then he asks “What would happen if we were to take these words seriously? We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity.”
Our Holy Father isn’t timid about articulating a bold new missionary age for the Church, mentioning “mission” or “missionary” a total of 129 times, and entitling the first chapter “The Church’s Missionary Transformation.” Although this is perhaps the most overwhelming theme of his first papal exhortation, you wouldn’t know it by most of the press coverage, both secular and Catholic.
Here at Family Missions Company we couldn’t be more pleased with the Pope Francis’ missionary vision for the Church. In fact, I believe you would be hard pressed to find a place where this vision is more totally embraced and lived out than right here at Family Missions Company! We are seeing what does happen when Jesus’ Great Commission is taken seriously, and it is AWESOME to behold!
- Here in the States, 250 youth encountered Jesus at our annual Faith Camp, 215 participants of our first ever Proclaim Catholic Missions Conference left with a deeper passion for missions, and thousands more heard the Gospel message shared on retreats, conferences, university campuses and in church pews around the country.
- We hosted over 300 people on 10 short-term mission trips to 6 different countries!
- Thanks to all our generous benefactors we built 90 floors for poor families, built or renovated 37 homes for as many families, repaired 3 water wells for 3 desert communities, donated 25 pigs to 25 families in need, and 3 chapels, and helped with tens of thousands of dollars in medical needs for the poorest of the poor!
- Over 900 Typhoon Haiyan affected families found physical relief and spiritual support at the hands of our missionaries!
- More than 500 bibles were distributed, 23 marriages were blessed, 26 souls were indelibly marked by the waters of baptism, 1 RCIA program was started in the diocese of Pune so that Hindus and Muslims can encounter the embrace of Jesus in the Catholic Church!
Perhaps most encouraging is the 38 new missionaries who were trained this year and have been pouring out their lives in God’s service in Ecuador, Mexico, the Philippines, India and China these past 7 months!
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world, together we can transform the world! It is my hope and prayer that the missionary impulse desired by Pope Francis would grip our hearts and compel us to an even greater commitment to the missionary mandate of Jesus.
There is much left to do; 5,000,000,000 people are still waiting in darkness for the light of Christ to dawn for them!
By Joseph Summers
Director at Family Missions Company