was the theme of the annual Justice and Peace Assembly, organised by the Birmingham Archdiocese Justice & Peace Commission and the Columban Missionary Society at St. Peter’s School, Solihull, on Saturday 12 October. Based on the ‘See, Judge, Act’ model, participants learnt about mission from a variety of perspectives and about engagement in practical action for justice, peace and care of creation. More than 100 people attended from parishes across the archdiocese. The day was facilitated by Sr Anna O’Connor of the archdiocese and James Trewby, the Columban Education Worker. School staff and students – including headteacher Mrs Murphy and pupils of the Year 11 senior team – were attentive hosts.
Morning sessions ranged from a sharing of Columban experiences of global mission and interreligious dialogue by priests, lay missionaries and co-workers to ‘Youth and Mission’ by the Birmingham Diocesan youth team. For ‘Church Community on Mission’, ecumenical partner Olton Baptist Church members talked about missionary outreach to their local area. The action workshops in the afternoon looked at mission with young people, Liturgy and Mission, ideas on justice and peace action and how to become a LiveSimply parish. Passionist priest Martin Newall, direct from Christian Climate Action events in London with Extinction Rebellion, spoke about nonviolent direct action as a means to stimulate political action on climate change.
Columban priests and lay workers – Tom O’Reilly, Ray Collier, Jim Fleming, Denis Carter, Stephen Awre, Mauricio Silva, Ger Sampson, Katie Howard, and Catherine Bridgwood – were all involved in leading workshops. At lunch there was a buzz of discussion over a shared lunch and tea/coffee in compostable cups. Stalls included Columbans, Pax Christi and CAFOD.
Mass concluded the day, where the main celebrant was Fr Gerard Murray, Chair of the Commission. In his homily, Columban Director Peter Hughes spoke about Columban mission to respond to the “Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor”, based on the encyclical Laudato Si’, and his own three decades of mission in Chile. Bidding prayers prayed for the success of Columban mission, the Synod on Amazonia and, “all the participants as they reflect on the challenges of living the Gospel and being Church today and respecting and caring for the environment God has created and upon which we depend for our global health and future”. The life and witness of Blessed John Henry Newman was celebrated at a day marked by faith, solidarity and energy. He was canonised in Rome the following day.
Continuing the focus on the Extraordinary Month of Mission, on 19 October there will be a day of formation and experiences exploring mission for young adults, followed by a vigil and Mass for World Mission Sunday (20 October). It has been organised jointly by the Diocesan Vocations Office, Youth Service, Evangelisation Department and the Columbans.