Friday, May 17, 2019

Greetings for the Society of Missionaries of Africa

At 11:00am this morning (5:00am EDT), in the Consistory Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience those who are participating in the General Chapter of the Society of Missionaries of Africa (SMA), which is taking place in Rome from 30 April to 24 May of this year.  The theme of this gathering is: A family that is faithful to its missionary charism in today's complex and changing context.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
offered to the Society of Missionaries of Africa

Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you, members of the Society of African Missions, on the occasion of your General Assembly held in Rome. This meeting allows me to thank the Lord for the great work of evangelization that you carry out in Africa, especially among the most remote rural populations, where the Christian community is still fragile or non-existent. I also welcome your willingness to develop new forms of presence among people of African origin in other parts of the world, with particular attention to migrants.

These new pastoral horizons are signs of the vitality of the Holy Spirit who lives in you and who urges you to respond to the ever new challenges of the Church's evangelizing mission to reach all the peripheries that need the light of the Gospel (Evangelii gaudium, 20). I thank you for your missionary zeal, imbued with courage, which leads you to go out to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ, sometimes putting your own lives at risk, following in the footsteps of your founding fathers, the Servant of God Melchior de Marion Brésillac and Father Augustin Planque. In this regard, I would like to join in your prayer for your brother Father Pierluigi Maccalli, kidnapped for several months in Niger, and to assure the concern and attention of the Holy See regarding this worrying situation.

This year you wished to highlight the fact that your apostolic community forms a family, with the Missionary Sisters and the associated lay people. A joyful family which is growing, thanks to many vocations in Africa and Asia. This family character is certainly a treasure that you do well to emphasize and develop.

Evangelization, in fact, is always done by a community that acts through works and gestures in the daily life of others which shortens distances, lowers itself through humiliation if necessary, and takes on human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in the people (EG, 24). I also encourage you to persevere in your commitment, in close collaboration with members of other religions and institutions, at the service of children and the most fragile people, victims of war, disease, and human trafficking. Because the choice for the poor, for those that society rejects and sets aside, is a sign that concretely manifests the presence and solicitude of the merciful Christ. Thus, driven by the Spirit, you can be servants of a culture of dialogue and encounter, which takes care of the little ones and of the poor, in order to contribute to the advent of a true human fraternity.

Faithful to your roots, you are called, as a family to witness to the risen Christ through the love that unites you to one another, and with the radiant joy of an authentic fraternal life. I therefore invite you to constantly seek, in listening to the Word of God, in the sacramental life and in the service of your brothers and sisters, the means to renew, in each of you, your personal encounter with Christ. In fact, the first motivation to evangelize is the love of Jesus that we have received, the experience of being saved by him that drives us to love him more and more ... Therefore it is a matter of urgency that we seek to recover a contemplative spirit, which allows us to rediscover every day that we are repositories of a good that humanizes, that helps to lead a new life (EG, 264).

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you once again for your visit, as well as for the witness you are giving. I encourage you to persevere, with renewed enthusiasm and dynamism, on the path traveled by the Society of African Missions, a path which has produced many fruits of conversion to Christ. In listening to the Spirit, do not be afraid to open new roads, to show that God is always new, that He continually pushes us to leave again and to change places, to go beyond the known, to the peripheries and the frontiers (Gaudete et exsultate, 135). With this hope, I entrust your missionary family to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, asking her to support your efforts. I bless you and pray for you. And you, please, don't forget to pray for me. Thank you.
Original text in Italian
Texte en français
Texto en español

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