East Africa Assembly 2107
The annual assembly for the Mill Hill missionaries working in Uganda and Kenya was held on the 3rd to the 7th of January at Ukweli Pastoral Centre in Kisumu. 36 members from various missions were able to attend the assembly. Despite the decline in numbers, it was an assembly with more members from the South and East than West, signaling the shift in the demographics of the society. For the first time the average age for the assembly was under 40, a sign of a vibrant, enthusiastic and hopeful new breed of missionaries ready to carry on the mantle.
Fr. Bernard Phelan led the recollection helping us to reflect on the journey of discipleship; from call, listening, responding, following and witnessing to the master.
The focus was on the attitude Jesus wanted his disciples to embrace; one of loving service rather than being master and lord. He reminded us that as disciples we need to embrace the attitude of mercy rather than judgment, an attitude of washing the feet of others rather than being waited upon. Fr. Bernard hinted at the ills generated by being judgmental and authoritative, a trap that missionaries, especially missionary priests may fall into.
In the last three consecutive annual assemblies, one topic that kept coming up as a particular concern was clericalism in the society. So this year, we invited Tina Fox, a lay missionary who helped to found the Catholic Lay Missionaries group in Kenya that currently has 18 missionaries working with people on the margins. She shared with the members her experience of a clerical Church that treats the laity as second rate Christians.
She reminded us of our common priesthood by virtue of our baptism.
Members were moved when becoming aware of the many ways in which we inhibit the missionary vocation of the laity in the Church. Pope Francis reminds us that the Church is the laity and it is the time for the laity. She implored us to make it a reality through our loving service in empowering all the baptized to live their missionary vacations in the Church.
Philip Adede Amek mhm