We can be missionaries right where we are

| November 19, 2014 | 2 Comments

Susanna Bolle (center) is pictured with her brother, Luke, his wife, Amy, and their children: Isabelle, 7; Elijah, 6; Gabriel, 5; Maggie, 3; and Vivian, 7 months. Bolle recently attended a Family Missions Company conference in Louisiana, where Luke and Amy are training to become missionaries with FMC. Photo courtesy of Susanna Bolle

French poet Leon Bloy once wrote, “The only real sadness in life is not to become a saint.”

Avoiding this sadness is the very goal of Family Missions Company. Founded in 1997, FMC is a lay Catholic apostolate devoted to proclaiming the Gospel to the world, especially to the oppressed and suffering poor. My brother, his wife and their five children are training to be full-time FMC missionaries through a three-month intensive formation program called Intake, where they will study, work, pray and live in community with other FMC missionaries. After serving in Louisiana and Mexico, they will be sent to their first year’s mission post in countries that could include Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, the Philippines or India.

In early November, I attended FMC’s “Proclaim” conference, which sought to encourage a response to the “missionary impulse” that Pope Francis speaks of in “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”). I was deeply humbled by the selflessness of the many young adults and families I met who have responded “yes” to the Lord’s radical call to foreign missions. As part of FMC, they will embrace poverty not only in their own lives but also by feeding the poor, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned and relying on God’s providence in everything.

Keynote speaker Carole Brown emphasized the words of Pope Francis in “Evangelii Gaudium” where he acknowledges that, “Sometimes it seems that our work is fruitless, but mission is not like a business transaction or investment, or even a humanitarian activity . . . it is something much deeper, which escapes all measurement.” Pope Francis warns us against getting “caught up in ourselves, in a careerism which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status.” We must have confidence in the unseen work of the Holy Spirit and work on “renouncing the attempt to plan and control everything to the last detail, and instead letting him enlighten, guide and direct us, leading us wherever he wills.”

The FMC missionaries commit to serve for at least two years, being led to remote villages and towns where the world doesn’t recognize, applaud or reward their work. But in their gift of self they are truly joyful because they know that real happiness is found in being a saint.

Attending the conference inspired me to make it my goal to fulfill the decree made in “Ad Gentes” — “to be a leaven” in the world and “dispose it always in accordance with Christ.” For me this means being a missionary in the environment where God has me right now. I am asking the Lord to challenge me outside of my comfort zone, whether that means sacrificing a night of sleep this winter to volunteer at an overflow shelter or saying yes to an invitation to speak at my parish. When the Lord comes to my door knocking, I do not want to respond with laziness and apathy.

As St. John Paul II professed, “open wide the doors for Christ!”

Bolle works in the Office of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. She attends the Cathedral of St. Paul and Nativity of Our Lord. Her home parish is St. John Sacred Heart in Sherwood, Wis.

Read more on CatholicHotdish

Tags: , ,

Category: This Catholic Life