For the Redemptorists, God’s mission remains the same — to preach Christ’s redemption to the most abandoned. But the context and the manner with which God’s plentiful redemption is preached changes through time.
Responding to this inevitable reality, the Redemptorist Vice-Province of Manila held its Mission Conversation organized by the Secretariat for Apostolic Life (SFAL). In attendance, either on-site or online were professed Redemptorists and lay missionaries of the vice-province representing the five communities of Baclaran, Lipa, Legazpi, Laoag, and Formation. Also present were mission partners and volunteers and a few representatives from the Province of Cebu.
The two-day conference held on September 13-14, 2021 was an opportunity to look back and reflect on the vice-province’s missionary endeavours since the start of the quadrennium and especially during this challenging time of the pandemic. It was also a venue to plan further as the vice-province moves forward in its missionary life. The various areas of the mission of the vice-province that were the focus of the conversation were Popular Mission (Urban and Rural), Social Mission, Shrine Mission, Youth Mission, and Environment, Ecumenical, and Mission to the Indigenous Peoples.
Starting off the two-day conversation was a theological reflection that was presented by Fr. Amado Picardal, C.Ss.R. via an online platform. His reflection was about “Fulfilling the Church’s Mission in the Time of the Pandemic and Beyond”. The main question that he posed which sets the tone for the conversation was “How can the Church carry out its mission at present” mindful of the contemporary realities that we have to face as God’s people? He proposed five areas that must be significantly considered namely, (1) care for the most affected, (2) new forms of communion and solidarity, (3) evangelization and education, (4) worship and liturgy, and (5) social action.
The Secretariat presented the collated report from the different communities of the vice-province in the various mission fields recognizing the gaps, threats, and opportunities presented by the current pandemic. The latter discussion was devoted to identifying possible mission practices and pastorally responsive engagements that can be adapted by individual communities or the vice-province as a whole.
The two-day gathering culminated with a Eucharistic celebration coinciding with the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross presided over by the Vice-Provincial Superior Fr. Victorino Cueto, C.Ss.R. In his homily, he affirmed that the vice-province in its own way has tried to understand what it means to be missionaries in this time of the pandemic. He further challenged the vice-province to continue to be “scandalized by the cross”. Indeed before we can celebrate the glory of the cross, we must be mindful that it is first a scandal. He urged the vice-province “to continue to be bothered by the cries of the poor, because the cross of Christ is the cross of the people, the cross of the wounded world.”
Fr. Rico John Bilangel, C.Ss.R.