Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara, bishop chairman Commission for Missions, Rt. Rev. Joseph Mbatia Bishop Vice Chairman, Sr. Esther Kimani our Holy Childhood National Coordinator and all our Religious Women superiors. Good morning.
We thank Bishop Peter Kihara and the Commission for Missions team for inviting you to come and share with us the missionary concerns of our Church and our duty as Religious Superiors in safeguarding, nurturing and promoting the precious gift of faith given to us by God.
We are gathered here to reflect on how to support our seconded sisters to the National and Diocesan level to become better animators of evangelization in order to make every corner of our country burn with missionary zeal especially in children apostolate. As missionaries, we are called to be animators of faith, light to the world and salt to the earth.
Our meeting will reflect on the life and needs of our dioceses, help us know more about missionary animation, plan together how to support the sisters , seek to understand the spirit of one family in mission and share best practices in leadership and management to help us build a vibrant and strong missionary family in Kenya.
Our primary role as Religious Superiors is to ensure our sisters are working in conducive environments which personal and communal growth, true spirit of witnessing and maximum tapping of talents for spiritual and human growth, initiate projects that promote self reliance and sustainability. Our desire as national office is to see a church that spiritually and materially rich, united, and alive.
Your second primary role is to protect life and promote dignity of each person. This challenges us to address threat facing our Church today due to break down of family systems, fear to solemnize marriage and erosion of human and Christian values. I appeal to you to help us in the renewal and deepening of our Catholic faith through Catholic teachings.
As Religious Superiors we need to conduct a base line survey on the pastoral needs within the dioceses we work. The findings will help us address the reality of each diocese ( vastness, complications and challenges ). Some dioceses are in the primary level of evangelization with many challenges of infrastructure, language, cultural barriers and shortage of personnel while others are in the secondary level of evangelization with relatively better working faith environment. This puts the country at different faith response level as well as resource mobilisation level.
The purpose of Pontifical Mission Societies as pastoral tools of the Holy Father is to provide faith formation, deepen Catholic faith, promote Christian family values, Uphold human dignity, Offer good health care and quality education. To address these needs the Pontifical Mission Societies has presence in the International level – Rome, National level KCCB headquarters Nairobi and in each diocese. As Religious Women Superiors we thank you for providing sisters to work in the PMS Office as Holy Childhood Coordinators and PMS Directors.
The Pontifical Mission Societies are not funding agencies but pastoral tools which seek to empower the people to become their own agents of social change economically, socially, spiritually and academically. They deal with promoting the missionary awareness among the Christians to support the work of evangelization, support of children to deepen their faith and be good witnesses of the gospel, arousing a spirit of prayer, reading the word of God as well as living dignified lives. They inform Christians of the life and needs of the church by sharing information and more specifically empowering them to be proud of their faith. They are meant to promote the gospel values, justice and respect of life. They do not discriminate on basis of race, creed, colour or nationality.
Every Christian by baptism is called to be a missionary. Therefore every Christian should have the desire to go on the mission either physically by offering oneself to serve as a priest, sister, brother or a lay Catholic Volunteer, Spiritually by praying for vocations or Materially by offering your material and financial support to the church.
WHAT ARE PONTIFICAL MISSION SOCIETIES.
Pontifical Mission Societies are universal societies under the patronage of the Holy Father whose principal aim is the promotion of a missionary spirit among the people of God by arousing and deepening their missionary awareness. These societies inform the people of God about the life and needs of the universal mission; encourage the particular churches to pray for one another and support one another through the exchange of personnel and material resources.
1.SOCIETY FOR PROPAGATION OF FAITH ( P.O.F.)
This was founded by a young lady from LYONS France called Pauline Marie Jaricot. She was from a wealthy Family. Her father owned a silk company. However after being struck by a broken engagement, grave illness and death of her mother at the age of 17 years, her vision of life started changing. After her physical and psychological recovery, she decided to serve God. She took a private vow of chastity, sold all her possession and adopted a life style and manner of dressing of poor workers. She volunteered to work in the hospital attending to the needs of the most sick patients.
After hearing appeals from her brother Phileas a seminarian of Paris Missionaries highlighting the poverty and difficulties experienced by missionaries in mission lands, she organised working girls of Lyons ( some in her father’s company) into an association of prayer ( living Rosary of St. Philomena) and almsgiving for the support of missions. She was criticised and ridiculed but her love for missions was so great that she never gave up.
Aim of the Society: is to promote worldwide support in evangelization among all people of God, to develop a missionary conscience to inform people of God of the needs of the universal Church, to promote mutual aid between churches and an exchange of spiritual values, material resources and missionary personnel.
Today we celebrate World Mission Sunday on the last but one Sunday of October every year. The money raised is used to support evangelization in the mission territories through construction of churches, support of catechists, support of pastoral programmes, construction of convents, support of medical institutions, support of education institutions and construction of fathers’ residence.
II . SOCIETY FOR HOLY CHILDHOOD ( P.M.C)
This was founded by Bishop Charles de Forbin Jason a Frenchman on 9th May 1843. It started as a result of the denunciation of the abandonment of Children to promote their salvation through Baptism; education and freedom from misery and death in China. It is placed under the patronage of the infant Jesus to inspire children to grow in holiness.
Aim of the society: seeks to involve children in the missionary work by opening their mind to the needs of other children. To concentrate its efforts on teaching the faith to all children, protecting the dignity of children and providing assistance in situations where children are suffering from famine, lack parental affection, experience rejection or are homeless. This society strives to involve children in the mission of the church and to teach them what it means through their motto …Children helping Children.
Today, we celebrate it on Epiphany Sunday or the 6th Jan every year and the money raised is used to help in the education of needy bright children, support orphanages, small homes, street children as well as abandoned and neglected children. Main concern is protection of life: promotion of dignity and integrity of children with little emphasis in constructions.
III. SOCIETY FOR ST. PETER THE APOSTLE ( S.P.A)
This was founded by a young French girl Jeanne Bigard with an intention to raise money for the support of indigenous priests in training in mission countries. Many young men are waiting to take up the light and pass it on, and many of those young men are from humble backgrounds to contribute anything to their training. This society gives a wonderful opportunity for the people of God to take part in the training of their priests by giving generously to the collection for the society of St. Peter the Apostle.
She came from a wealthy family. Her father a magistrate committed suicide when she was 19 years old…this was a turning moment which led Jeanne to pledge abandonment of the world and its vanities and give herself to the work of God. Her brother a judge died out of lamp burns when she was 28 years. Unfortunately and very painfully for Jeanne her father and brother died without baptism. She being a strong catholic and believer in the Eucharist felt sorry hearing from missionaries that people could stay for months without opportunity of celebrating mass on account of shortage of priests. To support missionary initiatives She gave her dowry for church construction in Japan and with her mother Stephanie gave all money from sale of their family property to build a seminary in Nagasaki Japan.
An important part of St Peter the Apostle is to encourage prayers and material support for vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Today, the society is responsible for the formation of diocesan seminarians and novices ( in their canonical year).
NOTE: To educate a seminarian today in Kenya is quite expensive we need more financial collaboration. We need to be more involved, to pray for vocations and our benefactors. Slowly but surely we need to involve our Christians in the formation of our seminarians.
Today we celebrate St Peter the Apostle on the 4th Sunday of Easter “Good shepherd Sunday”. The society stresses the importance of apostolicity in missionary activity through good and holy priests as well as sharing of apostolic personnel through “Fidei Donum” arrangements.
IV. SOCIETY FOR MISSIONARY UNION (P.M.U.)
This was founded by Fr. Paolo Manna an Italian Priest, a member of PIME Society. A talented linguist and lover of missionary work. He worked in Burma but Himself he was not successful in missionary apostolate due to poor health. However he had a profound and deeply felt experience of the enormous needs of the missions. He hoped to inculturate the Gospel with the cultural values of the people of Burma and show respect of their traditions. He was recalled back in Italy where he became editor of the Society’s magazine. His contribution shows power of press in the missionary work.
We have collections for:
1)Holy Land made on good Friday to maintain the historical birth place of Jesus Christ. This helps to defend our heritage, promote our faith and nurture it well.
2)Lenten Campaign done in the Lenten season to promote initiatives of peace, justice, reconciliation and harmony through Catholic Justice and Peace Commission.
3)Peter’s Pence done on 29th June to support the Holy Father in his ministry of charity
1.As we keep struggling with limited financial resources, poor infrastructures, vast distances, language barrier and even insecurity in some areas. We must keep our faith and remain focused on mission
2.As leaders we should build the capacity of our sisters through seminars, Workshops and regular meetings.
3.We should organize well and promote in our communities the celebration of designated universal days, namely, Epiphany, Vocations And world Mission Sunday.
4.We should develop sustainability strategic plan for our communities and succession plan in the event of change of leadership in the PMS Diocesan Offices to allow continuity.
5.We should promote transparency and accountability in our Structures by embracing best practices of timely submission of reports for accountability and transparency
6.The Apostolate to make children conscious of their duty to support poor and needy children of the community is urgent. However, we should adhere to the children safety and protection policy.
May God bless you to become true witnesses and builders of his kingdom. May the Holy Spirit shower you with his gifts as we seek ways to make our country a shining star in evangelization.