In the world of conflicts… we wish to be peacemakers.
In the world of conflicts in the 1990’s – racial tensions, conditions of oppression, cultural imperialism, religious strife – we wish to be peacemakers. We wish to promote understanding and pardon where there is hatred and violence, and so be witnesses of Christ, who came to gather all around the same table.
- At the root of oppression and injustice, we discover sin.
- We become more fully aware that true liberation requires the proclamation and presence of Jesus Christ, who radically changes hearts, reconciling men and women to God and to one another.
Spiritan Foundations and New Missions
From different continents, we see evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit, preparing new ways for the evangelization of the world of the future. During his journey to Poponguine (Senegal) on February 21, 1992, Pope John Paul said to all the Bishops of Africa:
“The African Church’s obligation to be missionary to itself and to evangelise the continent entails cooperation among the particular Churches in the context of each African country, among the various nations of the continent and also of other continents. In this way Africa will be fully integrated into missionary activity”.
Implanted through missionary activity, the local Churches are reaching maturity. They are themselves becoming missionary in their own countries and beyond.
Our own new foundations are part of this story of growth and maturity in the local churches.
Our own new foundations are part of this story of growth and maturity in the local churches. They contribute to the development of the religious and missionary dimension, both locally and in the universal Church. As the General Council put it in 1981:
“In sending his missionaries to preach in Africa, Libermann’s intention was that they should train African priests and religious as soon as possible, and he would certainly be pleased to see not only the strength of the African diocesan clergy today, but also the increasing number of Africans joining the ranks of his own Congregation”
Thanks to the arrival of African and Latin-American confrères, the Congregation is becoming even more international. Gradually, the western face is being transformed into an inter-continental face. Missionary vocations from the young Churches will support new urgent situations in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
In November 1996, the Brottier Centre of Mission Research, hosted a continental congress on: “Africa: Towards Priorities of Mission” . The congress opened to the background of the tragic events in Rwanda, as reflected in the inaugural speech of the coordinator, Fr. Eugene Uzukwu:
“We are all aware of those who benefit from the suppression of minority rights or the subjugation of the majority to the interests of the minority as in Nigeria, Burundi/Rwanda, Liberia, and Sierra Leone…What should we do as missionaries to face this issue of the squandering of human life in the continent?”
The Congress pointed to three priorities which highlight the Church’s mission:
That we implement the Church’s prophetic mission by;
- genuine representation of Africa in places where political and economic decisions are made and implemented and by playing a role of advocacy in identifying injustices and pressing for their redress,
- being the arbiters and promoters of justice and fundamental human values, and being formed into a prophetic community which overcomes violence by incarnating the ethic of non-violence learned from Christ,
- being seen as “prophetic strangers” who work to promote human dignity in opposition to a dominant culture of injustice.
That we become agents of reconciliation by;
- Identifying those most in need of reconciliation, promoting it in a fundamental and continuous way,
- Using the sacrament of reconciliation as part of the process of healing.
That we nurture the self-confidence of people, particularly at the grassroots level so that they;
- Define themselves, instead of yielding to definitions by others,
- Become subjects and agents of their own political and economic liberation.
“We must embrace the new order of things in all openness and simplicity and bring to it the spirit of the Gospel ”
In the Way of Divine Providence
The Spiritans of the southern hemisphere have helped set up three new groups of Spiritans: one for Mozambique in 1996, and two others for the Philippines and Taiwan in 1997.
“We must embrace the new order of things in all openness and simplicity and bring to it the spirit of the Gospel” (Libermann 1848)
During the Enlarged General Council at Dakar in 1995, the confrères shared their assessment of our Spiritan missionary experience:
“One hundred and fifty years ago, our Congregation committed itself to a colonised Africa that had been ravaged by the slave trade. It was a courageous undertaking, risking their lives so that the African people might be liberated from the evils of slavery, to which the island of Gorée is still a witness today. Despite the prevailing pessimism and the context of violence, a trust grew up between the missionaries and the Africans who accepted the Gospel”.
“I have given my heart to the Africans”, said Libermann. The African experience has marked the Congregation so deeply that it has become an essential element of our charism… Our “African-ness” does not just spring from the number of African confrères we have nor from the extent of our commitments in Africa. It is to be found in the spiritual experience of Libermann and in the convictions that drove so many men to give their lives for the mission… One could say that it is not possible to be authentically Spiritan if one does not personally retrace the journey the Congregation has traveled that was begun by our founders. This journey is saturated with Africa.”
“The future of the Congregation is not just in Africa. It is equally in Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and still in the countries of the North. But Africa has already begun to play a determining role in spiritan missions throughout the world.”
“At Dakar, once again we became aware of our weakness in personnel, the fragility of our communities and the difficulties of our mission, but without in any way becoming discouraged. We went home strengthened by a renewed vision of our spiritan mission and a greater sense of the way that we depend on each other”.
” How can we describe life on earth at this time when we are about to enter the 21st. century? Structures that are characterised by egoism and the desire to dominate always work in favour of the strongest. They can be called “structures of sin”. Jesus came into this world on the side of the little ones. He witnessed to the goodness of God amongst them in the face of the powerful. The forces of death in his society dragged him to Calvary. But because he died out of love, his cross has become a Cross of liberation”.