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500 expected for AEC Missions Congress 2019

by Renée Smith,

The Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) will host its first Missions Congress for the region in September 2019. Pope Francis is calling upon the Universal Church to participate in Extraordinary Mission Month (October 2019). Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Benedict XV’s encyclical Maxium Illud, which is considered to be the charter of modern missions.

Following an annual plenary meeting in Rome for the bishops of the AEC, a proposal was made to host the Congress in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain from September 19 –22. The AEC Mission Congress will be guided by the theme of Extraordinary Mission Month—Sent and Baptized, the Church of Christ on Mission in the world.

The AEC bishops held a press conference last Wednesday to launch the event. The panel comprised Archbishop Jason Gordon, outgoing AEC General Secretary, Fr John Persaud and Archdiocesan Director of the Pontifical Missions Societies (PMS) Deborah de Rosia.

Fr Persaud explained the purpose of the societies was to encourage all members of the Church to pray and sacrifice for the missionary activity of the Church. The four societies are:

Holy Missionary Childhood—children are encouraged to pray and sacrifice for the missions;

The Society of the Propagation of Faith—an annual collection taken up throughout the Universal Church to help mission churches;

The Society of St Peter the Apostle—an annual collection to help with the training and formation of priests and religious;

The Society of the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious—the society encourages priests and religious to cultivate a missionary spirit

“While sacrificial offerings are part of the work of these societies, evangelisation and spreading the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ are the hallmarks of the works of the PMS,” Fr Persaud commented.

“Mission should no longer be treated as something we do from time to time” added Archbishop Jason Gordon, who is also the current Vice President of the AEC.

Emphasising mission as the Church’s “deepest identity”, he hoped the Congress of the English, Dutch and French islands will bring people to “understand and live what mission is for us in the region”.

Archbishop Gordon noted two major objectives of the event are “formation” and “transmitting the faith into action”.

Five hundred persons are expected to attend the four-day congress, among them Catholic youth from primary, secondary and tertiary level institutions. Deborah de Rosia shared that these groups will be separated into various workshops based on their age.

Persons can look forward to the closing ceremony, to be held at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah which will include talks, a cultural segment and Holy Mass.