‘Mission’ is an important theme for 2019. Pope Francis has declared October as the Extraordinary Missionary Month, offering the theme ‘Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on a Mission in the World’. The Columbans and the Archdiocese of Birmingham are working together to challenge and encourage all in their baptismal call to “missionary discipleship” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium).
2019 is also the year in which the Columban Missionaries in Britain have been given Birmingham, our ‘home’ diocese, for the Annual Mission Appeal, meaning Columban Missionary priests are visiting parishes across the Archdiocese. The Columbans and the Archdiocese share the desire that this year leaves a legacy of formation – broadening understandings of ‘mission’ and inspiring practical action in service of the Kingdom of God. A number of initiatives are being carried out in order to achieve this.
With the support of Vicar General, Fr. Tim Menezes, the Columbans contributed a discussion paper on mission for the deanery meetings in May. Fr. Jim Fleming SSC and Stephen Awre from the Columban Mission Office attended the Birmingham East deanery meeting to facilitate an hour-long discussion based on five ‘characteristics’ of mission prepared by Fr. Tom O’Reilly SSC (Perspectives on Mission in today’s world). This paper could be used more widely, so the ‘characteristics’ are provided below and you are invited to use them as you wish for personal or group reflection. A version suitable for secondary schools is also available.
‘2019: The Mission Project’ is a mission exposure programme for Year 9 students, devised by the Columbans collaboratively with the Diocesan Education Service. Students from nine schools took part in the programme in May and June, led by Columban JPIC Education worker, James Trewby, and our Faith in Action volunteer, Catherine Bridgwood. Over the course of two months, the project invites young people to take a fresh look at mission and how they are called to participate, and involves visits to mission activities supporting refugees and asylum seekers, and contributing to the care of God’s creation, including St. Chad’s Sanctuary, Fatima House, Solihull Welcome and City Hospital Greenhouses. One school was so impressed they are organising the programme for 80 of their students in September and October.
An assembly on mission for primary schools is now available. Suitable for catechists and youth workers too, the assembly invites children to think about what mission means for the Church, their school and for themselves. Download the assembly presentation and notes.
The Columbans are working side-by-side with the Diocesan Justice & Peace Commission on ‘Baptised and Sent: our call to be missionary disciples’, the annual J&P Assembly at St. Peter’ School, Solihull, on Saturday 12th October. Based on the ‘See, Judge, Act’ model, participants will be invited to learn about mission from a variety of perspectives and to engage in practical action for justice, peace and care for creation. We are looking forward to welcoming people from across the Archdiocese. To book your place, visit: http://bit.ly/JandP_Assembly2019 (Google Form) or email email@example.com (or call 01564 772 096).
On the 19th October, for young adults, there will be a day of formation and experiences exploring mission followed by a vigil and Mass for World Mission Sunday (20th October), organised jointly by the Diocesian Vocations Office, Youth Service, Evangelisation Department and the Columbans. This will include participants interviewing a Columban missionary overseas via Skype.
We are very grateful for the wonderful people and organisations in the Archdiocese of Birmingham who support and partner with the Columbans in responding to the call of God’s mission. Through all of the events and activities described, we hope to strengthen and grow the community of missionary disciples, constantly reaching out beyond its borders in service of the Kingdom of God.
For more information about anything in this article, please contact the Mission Office on 01564 772 096.