In the SVD Australian Province, attempts at being prophetic about Christ present in the people who have been pushed aside have taken various forms over the years. Prophetic indeed, when Divine Word Missionaries are trying to recognise the face of Christ in caring for asylum seekers and refugees (Melbourne & Bangkok), advocating for people living with AIDS (Thailand), ongoing support for the plight of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Central Australia) and constantly raising funds to assist the many needed projects around the world (AUS Mission Office and MissionNZ).
Many have also dared to reach out in friendship to people at CANA communities in Sydney, who are suffering from loneliness, mental illness and addictions. The Missionaries also work in faith communities in more than 60 countries, with people of all faiths and none.
The long list of apostolates continues to extend the vision of Saint Arnold Janssen in the purpose and mission of Christ’s life. These are men who are not afraid of getting bruised by getting out and having a go at it. They have dared to encounter Christ outside the status quo.
Divine Word Missionaries – priests, brothers and lay partners – number more than 6000 strong, endeavour to see the face of Christ and to be the face of Christ in the world today.
But we all know that to keep the memory of Jesus alive is a dangerous thing to do. We have found ourselves scorned and challenged. We have felt the cracks in the ground. Yet, we have also found the humble Jesus in the poor. As religious missionaries we see no other way in this changing world. It calls to courage and generous response to God in faith, hope and love.
Our religious life has meaning only to the extent that it is a sincere and genuine service of the Church especially to those in need. We cannot afford to let our mission spirituality be relegated to an individualistic and domesticated dying ember. St Mathew chapter 21 strongly states that any “fig tree that bears no fruit” has no right to a place in the sun.
To all those who are walking in the ghettos and streets of life, stand firm, “success” is also found in hardship and disappointments. Only when the grain of wheat dies does it yield a rich harvest (see Jn 12:24).
Yours in the Word,
Fr Asaeli Raass SVD