“We must never tire of sharing the joy of the Gospel,” Fr Tom O’Reilly told those gathered last October in the Archdiocese of Westminster to look at how mission has evolved since Vatican II. Fr O’Reilly, who was Director of the Society in Britain for five years, and worked for a decade in Pakistan, underlined that “all of us are missionaries, rooted in our baptism”.
“Reading the signs of the times” he said, “we must listen and receive before we speak and give”. Using Rublev’s icon of the Trinity as a focus, he called for a Church that is “open, welcoming and hospitable”, particularly to people who are poor, strangers or migrants. A transcript of Fr Tom’s talk is available at www.columbans.co.uk or from the Columban Mission Office in Solihull Tel: 01564 772 096.
In 2016, the Columbans visited parishes in Westminster Archdiocese for the Annual Mission Appeal, and the day was offered in thanksgiving for the welcome, hospitality and generous support received. Participants sat at tables named after countries where Columbans work, and browsed stalls of Columbans, Pax Christi, CAFOD and Westminster Justice and Peace Commission.
Four workshops included a ‘Perspectives-on-the-ground’ meeting with three Columban missionaries – Fr Liam Carey who is based in Peru, Fr Denis Carter who worked for 17 years in Pakistan and Julia Corcoran who spent a year as a Columban ‘Faith in Action’ volunteer and visited Columban missionaries working on the US/Mexico border. Ellen Teague of the Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) team ran a workshop on ‘The inspiration of Laudato Si’. She highlighted Columban action on environmental justice and promoted a study programme based on the 2015 environment encyclical.
Mauricio Silva, the Columban Inter- Religious Dialogue and Lay Mission Coordinator, spoke about Fatima House, a collaborative project between the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the Columbans, which offers temporary accommodation to up to nine destitute women asylum-seekers. The Westminster Diocesan Agency for Evangelisation’s Fr Chris Vipers and Ausra Cane ran a workshop exploring ways to create a secure legacy for evangelisation in Westminster Archdiocese in response to Evangelii Gaudium.
The day concluded with Mass celebrated by the current Columban Director, Fr Peter Hughes, who used the Prayer of St Francis as an inspiration for Columban mission to work for God’s Kingdom on Earth. Bernadette Farrell’s Jubilee Song concluded, with the lyrics: “Through all times and through all ages, your Word is our living way. That the world be made new, keep your gospel people true. Let us once again with courage, rise and follow you.” •
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