EARLIER this year, Pope Francis highlighted his passion for the Pontifical Mission Societies—known here as Missio Scotland—saying the mission is at the heart and identity of the Church, and the worldwide network reflects the rich variety of the 'people with a thousand faces.'
Now, a new initiative by the various National Offices of the PMS throughout the world—entitled #WeAreStillHere—aims to shine a light on some of the faces of those who have continued to serve the communities in the mission countries and territories in which they work, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the pandemic has understandably created feelings of fear and uncertainty, the Church in the missions has been a beacon of hope and courage through it all and the video (above) showcasing the initiative sees missionary priests and religious sisters providing hopeful messages, while also asking them to continue to support their life giving and life saving work.
The missionaries featured in the video—who we should remember are there serving the people before, during and after troubling times such as these—come from a myriad of different backgrounds and are spread across five continents.
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon in Myanmar—who visited Scotland in 2016—features in the video. He is an outspoken advocate for human rights, religious freedom, inter-religious harmony and peace and justice in his homeland.
Spanish-born Bishop Kike Figaredo, who helped set up the Arrupe Centre to educate and care for disabled children in the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang in Cambodia is also captured on film.
Fr Anton Grech, a Maltese priest serving the Q'eqchi natives in the rainforest of Izabal in the Diocese of Jalapa in Guatemala is also included in the video along with Sr Veronika Cibaric, a Croatian Sister of Charity living and working in the Solomon Islands with the Buma Community, most notable for her educational programmes with children and formation programmes with young women.
While there are missionaries speaking in various languages in the video such as: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Maltese, Swahili, Korean, Tagalog and Burmese, which shows the universality of our Church, their message of unfaltering commitment to mission—even in moments of great adversity—is uniform.
As we journey towards World Mission Sunday on October 18, we must remember these men and women who are the beating heart of mission in our prayers and generosity. They are out there for us, we must be there for them.
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