[News]  [Addresses] [Carmelite sites]  
Secretariat of Missions: ocdmis@pcn.net + FAX ++39 06 85443212


Dámaso Zuazua, ocd, General Secretary for Missions

Meeting of the missionary animators or zealators Amorebieta-Larrea Centre of Spirituality
(Navare Province, Spain)

- February 26 - March 1, 2007 -
 

I n t r o d u c t i o n
 


Larrea: Casa de Epiritualidad

 

Dámaso Zuazua, ocd,

General Secretary for Missions

 

 

This Meeting of the missionary animators or zelators has been prepared specially for the European provinces. There will be another similar Meeting programmed for next September for the East and Far East, in Mangalore, India. The Secretary for the Missions will collaborate very willingly in the preparation of other zonal, regional, national or provincial Encounters, if this is what the regions want.

 

Now the initial idea has also been extended to the three American Provinces. Fr. General will explain the justification for this extension. The objective of this Encounter in the West (more than European) of our Mission animators has as a goal to reactivate Carmel=s missionary conscience. In many cases it is taken for granted, accepted as a component part of our Carmelite configuration, though there is no way to verify this accurately. The missionary conscience of Carmel in many cases appears to be asleep. In any case, we confess that on many occasions and in many contexts, it manifests itself as languid. Is Mission, the missionary conscience of Carmel, the missionary commitment among ourselves, a dynamic factor in our vocation and our pastoral activity?

 

It is true that we occasionally reflect on mission, in a sleepy, subconscious way, for example, the celebration of DOMUND, the Day for Carmelite Missions; or our occasional involvement with some concrete NGO campaign, but without excessive personal involvement,... In the majority of cases there lies a sleepy reaction before what should be one of the most stimulating factors of our being Carmelites. In many cases everything seems to be limited to a certain sympathy, to an approval, without any great personal commitment.

 

For this reason we have thought of this Meeting. It will serve to recall some well known principles, but which have never been put into practise. Our reflection and reciprocal information can stimulate us to value more the dedication of our missionaries, to be in greater solidarity with their needs, and to be a more committed and involved organization. In this Meeting of the Animators we come together full of hope, and to reaffirm our own conviction, as oxygen that breathes the missionary vocation into our communities.

 

I. Our missionary responsibility

 

The office of mission procurator has existed in the Order since the General Chapter of 1605. Fr. Pedro of the Mother of God[1] was elected. He was from Calatayud (Abilbitano@); he was the father of the Italian Congregation (1565-1612)[2]. The Constitutions sent out from this Chapter are also the first in the Order to speak of the Missions. Included, in the first place, is a chapter that mentions Ade conventu Missionum@, which exists in Rome and is Alike a seminary to where, with the consent of the General, those religious who are suitable are sent in order to sow the Gospel among the infidels@[3]. The future missionaries were prepared there by learning languages, and were taught how to refute errors and to come to terms with the customs of the infidels. Outside Rome, with the consent of the Definitory, they were able to found other houses Aextra et prope Romam@[4]and, with the same goal, as in other places[5]. It is the juridical base for the creation of our missionary seminaries, like those that existed in Louvain, Malta, Goa, Meulun (France), in Berdychev: the last two did not last long,...

 

In another part of the above mentioned Constitutions, it declares that the Procurator of the Missions is to be elected after the Procurator General and before the prior of the novitiate[6]. Chapter 14 describes the offices of the Procurator General and the Procurator of the Missions. The latter is competent to obtain briefs and letters from princes and other material matters, to maintain contact with those who have gone off on missionary journeys[7]. This is the first sign of missionary activity in our legislation.

 

In the past the AInstructiones Missionum@ were drafted. We recall, for example, those of 1904[8]. They were somewhat broader with respect to the previous drafts and were also approved by the Congregation of Propaganda Fide; they were sent out by the General, Fr. Ezequiel del Sagrado Corazón[9] with a Adefinitive@ character. The VI chapter was dedicated to the general Trustee (ASindico@)of the Missions, and the VII to the provincial zealators=[10]. Other Instructiones, those of the first Generalate of Fr.William of St Albert, were included in the volume of the general Instructions of the Order. Chapter III dealt with aspirants for the Missions[11], where we read: AThose of our brothers, who are the best, deserve all our admiration and praise, who have tirelessly given themselves and still give themselves to work in Missionary lands...We cannot forget that the Missions constitute the part of the Order@ (n. 182)[12]. In reality, these Instructions reflect and reproduce various ideas by the General in his Pastoral Letter Ade Missionibus adiuvandis@ of 1st March 1929[13]. Gathering together concrete proposals, he prescribes: 1) that in all our houses, of nuns and friars, there be daily prayers for the Missions; 2) that in our colleges and novitiates the reading of missionary reviews is to be encouraged; 3) that all our provinces, even those who do not have their own Mission, send missionary support to the Mission secretary,[14]... In the special General Chapter of 1926 (1st September - 7th October) the subject of the Missions was dealt with. Regarding n. 301 of the Constitutions, they decided that, in future, the procurator of the Missions be called Aa secretary@[15].

 

Other Generals have also written about the missions in their pastoral letters: Fr. Silverio de Santa Teresa, on the 25th anniversary of the proclamation of St. Therese as the Patroness of Missions[16]; Fr. Anastasius of the Holy Rosary to commemorate the III centenary of our Missions in India[17]; Fr. Philip Sainz de Baranda, highlighting the IV centenary of the first missionary expedition of the Teresian Carmel to the kingdom of Congo during the time of our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus[18].

 

The AStatua@, published by the General Definitory, are especially important in this dominion of the Order=s missionary documents, being the fruit of a meeting of missionary zealators, convoked by Fr. Miguel Angel Bátiz of St. Joseph and celebrated in Rome from 3rd - 7th March 1970[19]. It was established in them that every Province should have its Mission Zealator (n.1). It also stated that in our churches there should be a celebration, at least once a year, for a Carmelite Missionary Day (n.10). It was also decided to have a meeting of the zealators, at least every six months, with the General Secretary (n.11). Those who attended the meeting were received in audience by Pope Paul VI, who said to them, among other things: AWe hope that the ardent missionary spirit of Saint Teresa of Avila - even though an enclosed nun - and that of Saint John of the Cross, of whom you are sons, find a generous response in you and, in accordance with the modern needs, that you adapt to the growing breath of apostolic action in the world@[20].

 

 What does our legislation say today about the Missions? Describing the signs of the teresian charism, with an opportune observation, it states that with the growth of her ecclesial experience Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus was concerned for the people who were still not evangelized and for the immense missionary field. This is where we meet the full manifestation of her apostolic spirit[21]. The evangelization of people had always been a favourite task of the Order. It was our Holy Mother, she herself, who passed on to her religious family a missionary fervour and made clear that her religious should commit themselves to a missionary apostolate[22].

 

Turning to a more concrete plan, the Norms state that suitable projects should be thought of to help the missionary vocation flourish and grow among ourselves[23]. And in this field we read this proposal: ATo foster fraternal cooperation and communion among the missionaries, according to norms laid down by the General Definitory, inter-regional meetings of missionaries should be promoted as occasion offers, either for neighbouring missions or for a specific region@[24]. Every province and community is called to Acollaborate, even financially, out of their own resources with the work of the missions@[25].

 

The profile of the zealator is described in the following way: A...all provinces and semiprovinces ... will name a Zealator for the Missions ... his duty, under the Provincial=s direction, is to foster union between the province and the missions, promote the missionary spirit and obtain personnel and material resources for our missions@[26]. In modern day language we would say that he is to be a mission animator for the Province.

 

The recent World Missionary Congresses were providential occasions to reflect on our vocation and our Carmelite missionary tradition. In each one of them they formulated concrete projects to raise the conscientiousness of our missions and stimulate our participation in the missionary life of the Order.

 

The one in Nairobi (1994) presented the following proposals: 1) Encourage a mature fidelity to the missionary dimension of our teresian-carmelite charism. 2) Consider the new missionary horizons, beginning with the prophetic aspect and that of dialogue with other cultures, in the light of the magisterium of the Church, so as to find ways that arrive at an authentic enculturation of the Gospel. 3) The relationship between evangelization, the promotion of the human person, development, and liberation linked to a commitment to justice, should not be forgotten. 4) Have a preferential option for the poor in the light of the Gospel. 5) Undertake a missionary project starting from our teresian-carmelite identity, and with the witness of fraternal and praying communities, also in missionary territories. 6) Try to maintain always in our Missions some kind of work that is more directly linked with pastoral spirituality. 7) Nourish and spread a missionary spirituality starting from an experience of God in the reality of daily life, and with a commitment to faith, hope and love[27].

 

Possibly because of our missionary anaemia it does not follow automatically that these pronouncements will create the hoped for effect on a general level. But they always remain a reference point for reflection and for a will in Carmelite consciousness.

 

Four years later (1998) the II OCD World Missionary Congress was celebrated in Ecuador, Latin America. Here again there was a list of practical conclusions. Their principle headings being: 1) Enculturation. 2) The evangelization of the evangelizers. 3) The formation of our religious. 4) How to face up to missionary challenges. 5) The priorities in our missionary work. 6) The removal of certain obstacles. 7) The way forward to a progressive autonomy. This section concluded with a proposal that the General Secretary for Missions and the provincial conferences would have a follow up in order to evaluate how these resolutions were fulfilled[28].

 

Another encounter for missionary reflection was the International Meeting of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters in January 2002 in this house of Spirituality here in Amorebieta. The General of the Order, Fr. Camillo Maccise presided. The theme was: AHistorical legacy and evangelical dynamism@. The Actas of this meeting have been published[29].

 

Our missionary reviews ALa Obra Máxima@ (San Sebastián) in Spanish and AIl Carmelo e le sue Missioni@ (Morena) in Italian, have contributed consistently to inform and maintain our missionary calling. The same can be said for other provincial or regional newsletters, as AAvanzadilla@ (Madrid), AISAMIS@ (Sucumbíos), ATumaco@ (Colombia), AAmicizia missionaria@ (Arenzano), AHolfe für Indien@ (Graz), Ateranga@ (Montpellier). Though confined in their contents to a concrete Mission, they maintain and diffuse a healthy missionary attitude.

 

There has not been a shortage of guidelines, encouragement and suggestions. The deficiency, in this case, is in the diffusion and, above all, in the basic reception . But we, ourselves, should be the first to want to know all these resources so as to involve more the brothers of our provinces in the missionary consciousness of Carmel.

 

 

II. - Missionary animation

 

This is the task which is incumbent upon us. In the past they spoke of missionary propaganda, and missionary propagation. Today we have a different understanding; we are embarrassed by apologetics. We prefer to speak of missionary animation. What, in fact, does this term mean? It is not an expression that you will find in the Council documents. The Ad gentes decree states only that the Holy Spirit is the Asoul@ (anima) of the Church, and that the Spirit infuses the same Aspirit@ (animum) which descended on Christ[30]. But the term missionary animation is seen in the teaching which followed the Council and in the praxis derived from this. The Congregation for the Evangelization of People created an International Centre for Missionary Animation on 31st March 1974 in Rome. Today, in many parts of the world, there can be found formation courses for missionary animators.

 

Missionary animation is an ecclesial ministry. It derives from the Decree Ad gentes: ASo that each and every one of the Christian faithful might be well acquainted with the present state of the church in the world and might hear the voice of the multitudes cry Ahelp us@, information regarding the missions should be published so as to make them feel they have a part to play in missionary activity, and make them open their hearts to the immense and deep needs of men and women, and come to their assistance@[31]

 

It is an opportune and necessary ministry. We need to awaken our communities as well as to motivate them with a lot of information, with new incentives, and to do this if possible, with creativity and originality. A Christian or religious community which does not strive to be open suffers from the AJerusalem syndrome@ - At the time of the Acts of the Apostles, it failed to establish itself, was stagnant, it had no way to welcome new brothers and sisters, or recognize new frontiers. They felt scared or overpowered by the size of the task of evangelization all around them, to such an extent that it impeded them from seeing the universal horizon of the Church and its Mission. Now Evangelii nuntiandi recalls the double approach, in no way exclusive, of the first proclamation and of the proclamation to Athe multitude of people@ who are today, almost, dechristianised, to those who do not believe and to those not practising[32].

 

Many years later John Paul II expressed this in these terms: AWe cannot draw boundaries between the pastoral care of the faithful, new evangelization and specific missionary activity, and we should not think of constructing barricades...We should note a real and growing interdependence in the Church=s different works of salvation: there one influences the other, and there one stimulates and helps@[33]. Mission Aad extra@ and Aad intra@ complement each other, nothing excluded as a dilemma.

 

The same John Paul II recalled that missionary animation Amust be included as a principle element of parish pastoral activity, including associations and groups, especially of young people,...because the missionary theme can be a great help, making clear the main contents of missionary animation@[34]. We confess that we still have work to do to make people aware of this principle, and for it to be accepted and put into practise as the fruit of our conviction in the apostolate and in our pastoral activity. In the same encyclical the Pope states the two principle objectives of animation: Ainform and form the People of God so that the universal mission of the Church, creates vocations Aad gentes@ and cooperates in evangelization, and avoids presenting a narrow image of missionary activity...@[35].

 

It is not easy to define missionary animation. It includes a multitude of ideas, sentiments, principles and convictions. The field of missionary animation embraces as much as faith embraces. It is like the soul in the body, the first movement of pastoral activity which encourages and sustains its development. Animation means to communicate life and spirit. For the most part, missionary activity is a pastoral activity in order to create missionary awareness in people, in institutions, and in our communities. The Council tells us that Christian vitality and maturity is seen by the spirit and the universal missionary responsibility of each Church in presenting Aits contribution for the benefit of the entire Church@[36]

 

I announced in the first communication of this Meeting that the missionary animator is not a alms giver. He acts, reacts, spends, in harmony with theological, ecclesial, missionary and Carmelite criteria. The missionary animator promotes, stresses, stimulates, supports, emphasizes, encourages and facilitates missionary conversion, helping communities to consider the Mission ad gentes as a constant and privileged horizon. He awakens commitment.

 

Among the concrete goals for missionary animation, I wish to highlight:

 

- To infuse, promote, create and encourage a missionary mentality with information, and renewed motivations.

- To encourage spiritual and material cooperation,

- To promote and stimulate missionary vocations, not neglecting lay people, for the Missions.- To coordinate, and facilitate the connections between our environment and the Missions. Missionary animation presents us today with an additional requirement. Paul VI draws our attention to the importance of adapting our culture, our awareness, and our vocabulary[37]. We should respond to the new theological concepts, and the new kind of terminology [38] that is being used today, as well as the direct or indirect components of Mission, such as enculturation, inter-religious dialogue and the phenomenon of globalization. The same Pope, Montini, said during his talk to our provincial zealators: AIt is necessary to adapt our language to modern times, so that people can understand it. It is what you are doing@[39].

 

As animators, it is our duty to be up to date, well informed in these fields, with a new language, enriched by new concepts, new technics and terminology so that what we communicate uses present day terminology and is in keeping with today=s religious culture. For this reason John Paul II suggested, using a nice phrase, that we be Acentinelas de la manana@ (Aguardians of the future@)[40]. We should be aware that we need to renew our knowledge so that our missionary animation may be more effective.

 

Conclusion

 

The central theme of this Meeting is: AThe Carmelite Mission in an era of globalization and a new evangelization@. Our present evangelizing service is within the context of these two principle components: the new evangelization and globalization. These have not suddenly sprung up. For this reason we shall be looking at our missionary roots from an historical viewpoint; roots which are based on our charism, which we promise to live within the Church. Also we shall be offering an explanation of the new socio-religious connotation in which our present day missionary activity is being carried out. Likewise we shall also offer a general vision of the present state of Missiology with characteristic stress on theology and pastoral activity. Thus we shall renew our vocabulary and, at the same time, be up to date with the new concepts and the new ways of communicating them today.

 

As a Meeting of provincial missionary animators, formal and informal dialogue will take pride of place in these days: reciprocal information, inter-change of experiences, possible common initiatives,...This is the field of play in order to acquire, first and foremost for ourselves, a greater conviction of the urgent necessity of our task. Thus we shall be able to transmit this in our turn so that Carmel remains missionary and is converted into being even more missionary.

 

In conclusion, I would like to recall the Fr. General=s observation in his Informe to the Extraordinary General Definitory in Chile in September 2005: AThe Order=s missionary fervour is a measure of its intimate fervour... The spirit of our holy mother Teresa will not let us withdraw into ourselves. Therefore, I believe that in formation, that is to say, in the communication of our vocation the missionary spirit must occupy a more central and fervent place@[41]



[1]Acta Capituli Generalis OCD Congregationis S. Eliae, I (1605-1641). Rome 1990, p. 50

[2] Julián Fuertes Marcuelo, P. Pedro de la M.de D. - Una vida al servicio de la Iglesia, El Cairo 1990, pp.109.

[3] Constituciones Carmelitarum Discalceatorum Congregationis, S. Eliae latae. Transcripsit, introductione notisque ornavit P. Ioannes Marcus Strina. Ianuae 1968, cap. 17, p. 103.

[4] Acta Capituli Generalis...p. 12.

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid. chap. 9, p.122

[7] Ibid., chap. 14, p. 139.

[8] Typ. Iuvenum Opificium a S. Joseph, Rome 1904, pp. 64.

[9] Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, Rome 1913

[10] ibid., p. 50

[11] Rome 1932, pp. 48-56.

[12] ibid., p.50.

[13] Analecta OCD IV (1929) 31-35.

[14] ibid. p. 34.

[15] APrimum discussio orta est de ipso nomine. Et decisum est ut, ad confusionem vitandam et ad exemplum aliorum ordinum, non procurator sed secretarius pro missionibus O.N. vocaretur...@ Acta Capituli Generalis OCD, V (1901-1961), Rome 1996, p. 176.

[16] Carmel and its missions LI (1952), PP. 195-199; lii (1953), PP. 24-25, 49-50, 68-70, 94-96, 116-118, 143-146, 167-169, 190-193. Cf. Valentin de la Cruz, Fray Silverio de Santa Teresa. Burgos 1962, p. 201-202.

[17] Acta OCD I (1956) 55-64

[18] Ibid, 27 (1982) 149-152

[19] Acta OCD 12-15 (1967-1970) 174-184.

[20] Ibid, p. 107.

[21] Constitutions and Norms of the Discalced Brothers of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel. Rome 1987, ch. I, n. 7. P.33.

[22] Ibid., ch. VI, n. 94, p. 68.

[23] Norms, Rome 1987, ch. V, n.58, p. 163.

[24] Ibid, n. 61, p. 164.

[25] Ibid, n. 65, p. 165.

[26] Ibid, n. 64, p. 165.

[27] SIC, vol. 27 (1994), n.2

[28] SIC, vol. 31 (1998), n. 1, pp. 87-92

[29] Monte Carmelo 110 (Burgos 2002) pp. 854.

[30] AG 4.

[31] AG 36.

[32] EN 52, 55 & 56.

[33] RsM 34.

[34] Ibid, 83.

[35] Ibid 83.

[36] AG 6. The RsM of John Paul II restates the same idea that missionary activity is a Asign of maturity and faith and a sign of a Christian life that produces fruit@ (n. 77).

[37] EN 63.

[38] AThere has taken place in the XX century what has been defined as a linguistic change in culture. This is on an epoch level...Its rules were those ethical rules of sincerity and truth. Today we know that language is much more. Words reflect the subject and his/her experiences. He/she cannot help to formulate an experience interiorly, so as to live it in full awareness. For this reason language conditions and shapes even his/her future ...@ (Carlo Molari, Esperienza personale di fede nella maturità. Cassano Valcuvia 2005, p. 15.

[39] Acta OCD 12-15, p. 107.

[40] NMI 9.

[41] Acta OCD 50 (2005), p. 70.

 

     
 [
 English] [ Italiano] [ Español] [ Français ] [ Deutsch]
[ ] [  ]

Updated 12 mar 2007  by OCD General House
Corso d'Italia, 38 - 00198 Roma - Italia
 ++39 (06) 854431  FAX ++39 (06) 85350206