By Rose Achiego
October 2019, the Church will mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud,issued at the end of the First World War. The Holy Father described the war as a useless venture that divides, destroys and devastates humanity calling upon the Church at that time to become missionary by spreading out to mission territories to evangelize and heal the wounds.
Pope Francis through the Congregation of Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) has promulgated that the Catholic Church should mark this anniversary by commemorating the Extra Ordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 herein referred to as EMM2019.
The main purpose for this promulgation is Renewal of Baptismal Promises and missionary spirituality to be Proclaimers of the Gospel as mandated by Jesus Christ. “Go therefore make disciples of all nations, baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, am with you always, yes to the end of time.” JB Mt 28:19-20 which is the foundational text from where the theme of the event is derived as: Baptised and sent: The Church on the move.
In conforming to this exaltation, the Church in Kenya launched the year of mission in October 2018 at Marian Shrine in Subukia, Nakuru Diocese.
Addressing PMS Diocesan Directors and Pontifical Missionary Childhood (PMC) Coordinators gathered for their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at JJ McCarthy Centre in Nairobi, Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Commission for Missions Rt. Rev. Joseph Alessandro expressed hope that, Kenya shall be able to reawaken the missionary spirituality in all the baptised Catholics and endear to them to courageously bear witness to Christ in the contemporary world that is fighting to relegate the word of God.
Bishop Alessandro who is also the Shepherd of Garissa said there is need to reinvigorate the Church teachings and rekindle the conscience of the society by living Church’s ethos and values with true conviction as taught in the Catechism classes.
“In addition we need to share out our faith and believe in God. Faith is strengthened when it is shared, revitalised when expressed and energized when lived authentically,” he said.
The Prelate said Missionaries have an obligation to participate actively, consciously and fully in that mission of Christ adding that they are called to baptised and sent to proclaim the Gospel to all humanity.
“The clarion call is to be on the move, to dirty our hands in the work of the Lord and to have the Church sweating on the streets evangelizing not by words but good actions that attract, acts that pulls none believers to ask for whom do you work for and our answer remains for Jesus Christ,” he said.
Speaking at the same time, In Charge of Affairs for the Nunciature Msgr. Marco Ganci said awakening of the heart of the Christian and reviving the Lord who lives in us is the starting point for every true apostolate adding that, the Holy Father reminds Christians of the importance of re-igniting the heart of those who are called to bring Jesus to parts of the world where Christ is not known or where he is already forgotten.
“Pope Francis knows it well and writes it also in his letter: any missionary activity, any work of material and spiritual charity, is born and feeds exactly from a double passion that animates the true disciple of the Lord, an inner passion that flows and feeds from the personal adherence to the Word of the Gospel and from that experienced charity that has always animated the life of the saints,” said Msgr. Ganci
The AGM organised by the PMS National Office, took place from 4th to 9th, February 2919, and was attended by about 50 participants drawn from all the 25 Dioceses in Kenya.