Pope Francis at the Conference of the Missionary Institutes Pope Francis at the Conference of the Missionary Institutes   (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope to missionaries: ‘Proclaim Christ above all by your witness of life’

Pope Francis reminds Italian missionaries that through embodying Christ in prayer and listening, they will achieve “the salvation of the brothers and sisters which the Lord entrusts to them.”

By Rechilda Estores

Pope Francis met Thursday with members of the Italian Conference of Missionary Institutes, as the group celebrates the 50th anniversary since their establishment.

“For half a century you have dedicated yourselves to promoting the mission ad gentes in Italy, making yourselves the voice of thousands of missionaries who devote themselves to the proclamation of Christ,” Pope said.

Pope Francis giving speech at the Conference of the Missionary Institutes
Pope Francis giving speech at the Conference of the Missionary Institutes

He expressed that the Church is missionary by her very nature and has a responsibility to the people. "The whole Church is missionary, and the work of evangelization is a fundamental duty of the People of God."

These missionary works are vital to the Christian faith, he added, saying, “Mission is oxygen for Christian life, which without it becomes sick and withers.”

Mission of the Church

During the audience, the Pope urged the missionaries to be in service for all people. “That is why I recommend that you cultivate charity first of all in and among your communities, within and among your institutes, harmonizing differences of culture, age, mentality,” he continued, ”So that in communion each charism may be at the service of all.”

He also emphasized the need to embrace the poor and children in the communities. 

“Take to heart the welcoming of the poor and the little ones, among yourselves and toward the people you serve in your ministry, in a spirit of inclusion and service,” Pope said.

Works of God

Pope Francis assured the missionaries that God is working with them to accomplish their mission. “Mission, like communion, is first and foremost a mystery of Grace. It is not our work, but God's,” he added. “We do it not alone, but moved by the Spirit and docile to His action."

He mentioned that the work of missionaries plays a huge part in advancing the word of God among the people. 

“It is precisely in this perspective that you operate, through the sharing of experiences, the missionary animation of local communities, the sensitization of young people in seminaries, vocational animation, the contribution to the drafting of missionary documents at various levels, the synergy with other ecclesial realities,” he continued, “for the promotion of welcome between peoples and cultures and for the dignity of the person in every part of the world."

Pope Francis with the members of the Conference of the Missionary Institutes
Pope Francis with the members of the Conference of the Missionary Institutes

Message to the Missionaries

Pope advised the missionaries to nurture their faith and to involve the Lord in every aspect of their lives. “Do not neglect to nourish your lives and your apostolate with the Word of God, the Eucharist and prayer,” he added. “Let not only your life and missionary work, but also your planning, meetings and decisions always be marked by listening to the Word, Eucharistic celebration and prayer."

During the audience, the Pope reiterated the importance of abiding in and surrendering everything in life to the will of God. “Together and individually entrust everything to God, purifying your hearts and the institutions in which you operate from everything,” he said.

He also encouraged the missionaries to keep leading the people to the Lord. “I encourage you to go forward with courage,” he said, “so that the power of the Spirit may always find in the Church."

Pope Francis concluded by thanking missionaries for their service to the mission and to communion, and by asking them to pray for him. 

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11 May 2023, 13:16