What a great day the 1st May turned out to be as over 200 people joined us for our clergy/laity day on making missionary disciples to spearhead our parishes becoming more missionary in attitude and activity. The gathering on zoom was led by Michael Dopp, international speaker and founder of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries, based in Ottawa.
Bishop Mark began this powerful day with prayer and shared with us his own thoughts on how this topic was central to the diocesan document, “A Precious Place of God’s grace”, as we endeavour to develop our parishes into communities of disciple making disciples and foster an even greater collaboration and co-responsibility between priests and laity.
Michael’s presentation was given under the general title of, “A Church on fire”, which captured the twofold nature of a Church in crisis and the Church embracing opportunity in the face of declining numbers and resources. Only when we do a, ”fearless inventory”, of ourselves and where God has us at this moment, can we then be open to the Holy Spirit who, just like in the early church which had no supporting structures but only the Good News, empowers the Church to be, “bold in action because it was coming from a place of weakness”. This is what will enable us to grasp the essence of, “A Precious Place of God’s Grace”, actualise it and make it real.
In making mission real, the Holy Spirit will challenge us to, “commit all the Church’s energies to evangelisation” (RM, 3) because it is the core of our being and, “the Church exists to evangelise” (EN, 5). Michael reminded us that, first and foremost, this is not about structural change but a personal call from the Lord to each and every one of us to embrace the, “call to holiness and the call to mission”, which was powerfully exhorted by the Second Vatican Council. Only then do we move to the concrete reality of becoming missionary disciples.
Jesus’ own words, “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations..” (Mtt28) tells us that the Church’s mission is not complicated. If we do not have clarity on this then we have, “everything and nothing”. This is the one plan that Jesus gave us and there is no plan B. From the directness of Jesus’ own words we are called to propose and invite people to, accept his offer of salvation and be, ”set free from sin, sorrow inner emptiness and loneliness”. (EG,1). This is the goal of evangelisation by which someone, “accepts by a personal decision the sovereignty of Christ and becomes his disciple”. (RM,46). This is the very nature of conversion, and, “the Church evangelises when she seeks to convert”. (EN,49)
In the second half of his presentation, Michael encourages us to, “Dream Big”. What could God want to do in our diocese? In the renewal we all called to undertake, Michael advised us to focus on three fundamental principles: 1. Recognising our baptismal vocation and deeply appropriating it into our lives. 2. Parish is our mission territory. It is here, we do not have to look far. 3. The Priority; the Salvation of Souls. This one priority must not be lost amongst numerous, “other” priorities. (A recording of the entire talk is available on the diocesan website)
If you feel encouraged to act on this inspiring presentation by Michael and, ”Dream Big”, you will be pleased to know that we have our own on line resource called, “Mission Made Possible” that will train and equip you to live out with confidence the baptismal call to be a missionary disciple. The seven part programme will guide you through a spiritual journey that focuses on a proactive attitude to evangelise and the vital element of, “how to” go about it. Details can be found on the diocesan website or genesismission.co.uk or by contacting the diocesan vicariate for evangelisation or any one of the evangelisation fieldworkers, whose details are in this newsletter.