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October 23, 2011

Maryknoll Mission Symposium: Chicago Theological Union, October 6-8, 2011


Maryknoll, or The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, is celebrating 100 years of proclaiming the gospel around the globe.  In continuation of our centennial celebration, Maryknoll held a three-day symposium this past October 6-8 at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, where many priests, religious, educators, lay people and seminarians gathered to talk about mission.  CTU became a hotbed of people on fire for mission, with around 200 coming together to learn more through the theme “The Gift of Mission.” 

As the event began, it seemed that the excitement in the air was as thick as mist.  People came from around the world to partake in the gift of mission. The young, the not so young, religious, and lay people, all empowered by this fire of wanting to tell a story, shared three enthusiastic days for the mission of the Church in today’s world.  As the event unfolded, the essential questions of mission were addressed.  How do we do mission?  Why do we go in mission?  Where do we do mission, and more importantly, what is mission?

As we addressed these questions however, the gathering attempted to contemplate them through the scope of our present time in history.  In a more rapid globalized world, mission has evolved but has also remained faithful.  Our founders seemed to defined mission as, “Going to a nowhere place, serve people’s nobodies and under the world’s eyes, accomplish nothing.”  Today, this perspective has not changed much.  As speakers addressed the crowds, it seemed the underlying theme still remained; our priority is to the forgotten of society, the marginalized, the segregated and the oppressed.  However, the symposium also offered a new face to mission that addresses the new needs that have arisen.  The gathering offered new perspectives as mission now involves interreligious dialogue, ecological concerns, doing mission in a globalized economy, peace-making, and mission within diocesan parishes.  These themes were not considered many years ago but we can now clearly be contemplated as being part of our missionary identity in today’s world.  It seems then, that some issues are new and must be addressed; however, the identity of mission remains the same.

Many of these questions still remain open to debate and discussion.  However, the commonality among all gathered was the “must” of mission.  Once one is touched by the gospel, one is impelled to tell the good news.  In this sense, the call of every Christian is to go and tell this good news.  Jesus reminds us, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”(John 20, 21).  We then, are sent, to share this gift that must be made known.

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