Educating Tomorrow’s Missionaries Today

Fr. Arturo Aguilar
December 3, 2010

In his Message for World Mission Sunday just last month, the Holy Father invites all Catholics “to live intensely the liturgical and catechetical, charitable and cultural processes through which Jesus Christ summons us to the banquet of His word and of the Eucharist, to taste the gift of His presence, to be formed at His school and to live ever more closely united to Him, our Teacher and Lord.”

Fr. Aguilar - U.S. Regional Director

Fr. Arturo Aguilar

Fr. Arturo Aguilar is the U.S. Region director. Read more of his writings below.

I am moved by the phrase to taste the gift of His presence, for I find it is that which is the heart of the missionary. Having tasted the gift of His presence, the impetus is to share it.

This resonates with me and, I would venture, finds resonance in every missionary heart.

On page two of this magazine is a statement of mission of the Society. One of our aims is to “foster among all baptized people an awareness of their missionary responsibility.” We Columbans take this goal to heart. Here in the U.S. Region, one of the most effective ways we participate in the evangelization and missionary formation of the local Church is through resources we develop for mission awareness.

Our mission education programs provide an opportunity for parishes and schools to connect with and grow in their call to continue Christ’s mission and ministry in the world. We are reminded by Pope Benedict that the people of our time ask us “to make Jesus seen, to make the face of the Redeemer shine out in every corner of the earth before the generations of the new millennium and especially before the young people of every continent, the privileged ones to whom the Gospel proclamation is intended.”

Through our well received and widely known Come and See! and Journey With Jesus programs, for example, we have helped young people open their hearts and engage in mission. Blessed with the joys and sorrows, the work and relationships of our lives of ad gentes mission, we aim to assist the Church in understanding missionary activity and, out of our mission experiences, to act as agents between God’s people in other lands and cultures. Walking with God’s people, we learn from them about their cultures and faith experiences and at the same time share with joy the Good News as we have received it.

For over twenty-five years we have helped people, especially young people, engage in mission and in solidarity with the poor. In the twenty years since we have kept data, we know that over 2,250,000 children and young people have been introduced to mission by over 150,000 teachers and catechists using our mission education curriculum.

At the Mission Congress held last month in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Missionary Society of St. Columban was honored to receive the Mission Award from the U.S. Catholic Mission Association. This is given annually by the USCMA to organizations or persons that exemplify a mission minded understanding of the world, the Church, and all people.

In a note accompanying a donation from a fifth grade class, one student wrote, “We realize that $67.00 won’t make living conditions perfect in Peru, but it’s a start anyway.” Yes, it is indeed a start on what we hope will be a lifelong commitment to answering the baptismal call to mission. The Columban Fathers are grateful for the opportunity to educate and witness to those who are students today but may become missionaries tomorrow.

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Columban Mission.