U.S. Catholics in Mission

Exploring what it means to be a U.S. Catholic in mission is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Sisters Pat Lowery, Mary Ann Tregoning, and Anne Louise von Hoene recently attended the U.S. Catholic Mission Association’s 2010 Congress in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year’s theme was, “God’s Mission, Many Faces: A Portrait of U.S. Catholics in Mission.”

Sister Pat reports that the initial keynote speaker, Rev. Gargy Riebe Estrella, SVD, Ph.D., spoke about God’s mission with many faces. He emphasized that we are all human beings in communion with and relationship with each other. He discussed the need to be bridge builders and to build a church that is a community of communities.

Sister Janice McLaughlin, MM, President of Maryknoll Sisters, gave a keynote address on, “Turned Upside Down: Learnings and Challenges (A Missioner’s Journey in South Africa).” She spoke about the three weeks in which she was arrested and placed in solitary confinement in Rhodesia for following up and reporting on government abuses, calling this the “best retreat” of her life. She highlighted three areas of concern in mission: the environment, human trafficking, and poverty and inequality among people.

The third keynote speaker was Cardinal Oscar Rodriquez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who spoke about faith, joy in life, and personal, ecclesial, and pastoral conversion. He noted the ecumenical character of mission, which does not proselytize but invites the other to accompany us, to listen to each other, and to joint action. He stressed that dialogue is best done by one versed in their faith, and noted that Mary was the educator of the disciples. He spoke of encounter, conversion, discipleship, communion, and formation.

Our Sisters enjoyed attending some of the 15 workshop/dialogue sessions. There were 22 bishops at the opening ceremony and liturgy, and some stayed on until the next day to participate in an open dialogue session. Sister Pat shares, “Most striking for me was an appreciation of and meeting so many different peoples of different cultures, situations in life, and languages, and some whom I did know and did not expect to see there – and all in mission.”

December 1, 2010