HAVING consulted the College of Consultors, His Grace Most Reverend…
PENANG – The Church in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei has launched “The Extraordinary Missionary Year” on Jan 6, the Feast of Epiphany.
This ten-month long preparation will culminate with the “Extraordinary Mission Month”, convoked by Pope Francis for October 2019, to be celebrated on Mission Sunday on Oct 20. The aim is to increase greater awareness of missio ad gentes and give new impulse to the missionary transformation of Church life and pastoral activity.
The Holy Father also wants the whole Church to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundational mission document “Maximum Illud” (The Great Mission), written by Pope Benedict XV on November 30, 1919.
On Jan 6, Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang Diocese, declared during the Diocesan launching of the EMY2019 at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit here that the Maximum Illud, which calls for us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, is “still relevant, if not more so today than ever”.
He said, “The Bishops of Malaysia have decided to set aside this year, from the Solemnity of the Epiphany to the end of October, as the Extraordinary Year of Mission.
“The universal theme “Baptised and Be Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World” is adopted by the Penang Diocese.”
“Now, why are we doing this?” Bishop Francis, who is also President of the Bishops Conference MSB gave answer to his question “If we look at the Gospel today, three wise men came from the east to seek Jesus.”
Francis maintained “It is the same journey that every baptized person must make.”
He added “In our hearts, we make a journey to look for peace, for joy, for healing, for answers, for purpose in life. We make a journey to look for Jesus.”
Francis continued “After the wise men found Jesus, they went back to their own lands to share the story about the Saviour they have found. They were indeed missionaries of the birth of Jesus.”
Reminding the faithful of the words of Vatican Council II, Bishop Francis underlined that “Obeying the mandate of Jesus ‘to go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature’ (Mk 16:15), is not an option for the Church. It is her “essential task” for the Church is missionary by nature (Ad Gentes). Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity; she exists in order to evangelize (Evangelii Nuntiandi).
The Penang prelate also informed that for Penang Diocese, a series of Formations till June has been lined up to help the faithful to reflect and prepare to go out into the world as missionaries, followed by pilgrimages to be further inspired by the missionary saints and martyrs, who have become part of their journey in the Diocese.
KUALA LUMPUR – Meanwhile, at the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist on Jan 6, Archbishop Julian Leow (pic) informed the faithful that the Feast of Epiphany was chosen to launch EMY 2019 to remind us of “the Church’s responsibility to represent God’s mission in every aspect of life in all geographical places”.
He elaborated the four main dimensions of this celebration as highlighted by the Holy Father: 1) To have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in His Church through the Eucharist, in the Word of God, and in our personal and communitarian prayer; 2) To meditate on those witnesses of missions through the saints and martyrs; 3) To participate in biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological formation for works of mission; and 4) To undertake missionary charity as a commitment with the whole Church among the poor and marginalized.
“As Church, as BECs and as individuals, let us live our baptismal role by responding to the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ” urged Archbishop Leow.
“Let us be faithful and courageous living this grace and vocation bestowed upon us by proclaiming Jesus Christ crucified and risen for all,” he added.
He concluded with a prayer that we would “allow the Spirit of God to guide us and let us be like the star that led the wise men towards Jesus.”