Quoting the SACBC Vision Statement “Evangelising Community, Serving God, Humanity and all Creation,” Fr Jerry Browne, the Director of The Pontifical Mission Societies, said there is a great opportunity for interplay between the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) and the SACBC in terms of their Vision Statement. He gave a short history of how the Pontifical Mission Societies started and highlighting the importance of supporting the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies. He said it is important to understand that the Pontifical Mission Societies are not about funding only. He noted that most people have a misconception about the Pontifical Mission Societies as they interact with them probably only when there is a collection for Pontifical Mission Societies.
He said the Pontifical Mission Societies are not funding agencies but a world-wide network present in every local church; a network of prayer, formation and charity. And that is the emphasis that need to be kept in mind. The charity comes in giving, which comes in terms of collections and that money is used for the evangelisation mission of the church. Fr. Browne said it is important that the other two aspects are kept in mind when these societies are promoted. Noting that there is a lot that needs to be done about promoting the spiritual nature of the societies to help people come into deeper understanding of the spirit of evangelisation that underlies all of these societies.
He said since every baptised person is called to be a protagonist of mission, because all are missionary disciples, the paradigm that need to be developed is for people in parishes, communities and dioceses to see themselves more as a missionary church rather than a maintenance church. The Director of Pontifical Mission Societies added that there’s a need to focus on our baptismal call to be proclaimers of the word and give witness to our faith in our daily living rather than simply attending church and fulfilling our daily obligation. Going back to the SACBC Pastoral plan he said, “Evangelising Community, Serving God, Humanity and all Creation” is a missionary document. Therefore, “we have a duty to somehow give witness to our faith in our daily living.”
Fr. Browne said his mission in his many years of priesthood was to build a community. He advised that if communities are built and catechized the money will come. He said often we are so focused on getting money to run programmes that we lose the whole mission of the church. Among some of Fr. Browne’s hopes is that there would be a possible establishment of a degree programme for formation of catechists and youth leaders.