CHAPTER VI: COOPERATION
No. 37 of Ad Gentes addresses parishes and dioceses about their role in spreading the Faith. Since they are the communities where Catholics manifest their faith corporately and publicly, they must make manifest in their activities the goal of the Universal Church, which is to “bear witness to Christ before [all] the nations.”
The Council Fathers, however, say that this missionary spirit cannot grow in a parish or diocese unless the diocese or parish enlarge its interests beyond its own borders: “The grace of renewal cannot grow in communities unless each of them expand the range of its charity to the ends of the earth and has the same concern for those who are far away as it has for its own members.”
Parishes and dioceses learn this outreach already through the missionaries who have come from them: “Through those of its sons whom God has chosen for this special work the whole community prays, collaborates and works among the nations.” We Mariannhill Missionaries are agents of this kind of outreach when we train and send out missionaries. The missionaries are sent out to the missions as members of our community, but they are also members of their own parish and diocese, and should be regarded as such by them.
The document goes on to say that it would be good for dioceses and parishes to establish some direct contact with the missions through their own missionaries or “with some diocese or parish in the missions.” This will make visible the diocese’s or parish’s communion with the missions. Besides this, the document says, it will contribute to the spiritual growth of both partners.
There are examples of this outreach right here close to home. From 1965 to 2006 the Archdiocese of Detroit staffed the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Recife, Brazil. Now since 2000 the archdiocese has taken charge of St. Ignatius Parish in the Cayman Islands, where it employs two priests.
On the parish level a good example is Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights MI. In 2008 they adopted the parish of Holy Family in Kagongwa, which is in the diocese of Kahama, Tanzania. They have helped build the church and the rectory, as well as have financed many other projects. Every second year a group of parishioners from SS. Cyril and Methodius goes to Tanzania to spend some time working in the parish.
But this should not shrink the diocese’s or parish’s interest in the missions only to the places which they have adopted. It is advantageous to do diocesan and parish missionary projects, the document says, “provided the worldwide missionary effort is not neglected.” They should keep up their interest in the worldwide missions and support them by their prayers and contributions. Rather than shrink their missionary interest, the projects should open their minds and hearts to all missionary efforts.
Mary, as the Archdiocese of Detroit prepares for its Synod in November, pour into the heart of its people a great love for their brothers and sisters and a desire for their conversion both here at home and far away. Amen.