Partnership in Mission Advances
Still others see their contribution to the Church and the world through Redemptorist “glasses.”
… they become Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer.
This is an exciting time to be a Redemptorist, and to be connected with the Redemptorists! It’s hard to miss the signs that our world is ripe for a renewed proclamation of the Good News. So many people on our doorsteps, in our kitchens, at our gyms, on our streets, in the places where we shop, and in our parishes and communities need to experience hope: to hear and feel the possibility of redemption, that there is something more for them, that God loves them as they are, and then leads them to more.
We often say that Redemptorists are “close to the people.” This used to refer to the people among whom professed Redemptorists ministered. Today, we might be witnessing the birth of a new meaning for this lovely old phrase. It should come as no surprise that some of those who are close to the Redemptorists seek to maintain their connection. They include friends or family members, benefactors, members of confraternities, and employees or co-workers.
Still others want to intensify their connection, and are more specifically drawn to the Redemptorist charism and spirituality. Wanting to learn more, they ask questions, look for reading material, and may recognize friends in the Redemptorist saints and blessed and find a spiritual home. If they formalize their Redemptorist connection, they become Redemptorist Associates. Circles of Associates usually gather around Redemptorist parishes, shrines or retreat centers. Associates aren’t looking for more to do, but want solid spiritual food that empowers them to better do what they are already doing.
Still others see their contribution to the Church and the world through Redemptorist “glasses.” They are deeply and intimately connected, and would answer “yes” to almost any fair request to engage in the Redemptorist mission. They are connected to the Congregation, rather than to one ministry or ministry setting. It is obvious, from their places of work and in the life choices they make, that they share the charism of proclaiming the Good News to the most abandoned. When they make a formal commitment that is received and welcomed by the Redemptorists, they become Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer. They may or may not be employed with the Redemptorists.
All of these are different facets of “Partnership in Mission,” an “umbrella term” under which a wide variety of people are connected to the Redemptorists in many diverse ways. Partnership in mission is essentially a synonym for lay collaboration. But language is always inadequate. The phrase “partnership in mission,” might convey that partnership itself is the goal. It is not. Partnership in mission must be partnership for mission. Partnership is not an end in itself. The aim of partnership is the ever more effective, shared mission of the evangelization of the most abandoned, particularly the materially poor.
In every Unit of the North American Conference, Redemptorists and lay people collaborate on many levels. However, this partnership in mission (collaboration) is often not organized or structured; there is usually no formal common formation of either Redemptorists or lay people for Redemptorist partnership in mission. The North American Conference Secretariat for Partnership in Mission plans to begin to work with the Provinces and Vice Provinces to bring some structure to current efforts. Most of us are not born collaborators: effective collaboration involves skills that can be taught, learned and practiced. We hope to support all, and to focus on offering formation for circles of Redemptorist Associates and potential Lay Missionaries. We will also devote significant attention to the formation of professed Redemptorists for partnership in mission.
Every Province or Vice Province has agreed with this focus. We will begin with a joint retreat for those identified within each Unit as potential leaders of circles of Redemptorist Associates at the Redemptorist Retreat Center in Oconomowoc on October 20-22. For a day-and-a-half before this retreat, we will gather with present or prospective Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer, and the professed Redemptorists who work with them, to begin that common formation.
There have been many exciting moments in the history of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, but few could match this one. We are offered the opportunity to draw closer to one another and go out in hope to share Good News with the poor by the witness of our partnership and by the power of our proclamation. In the Redeemer, we go forward.
by Anne Walsh – denverlink, march 3, 2017