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Centennial Symposium

Mission as Holy Folly

bullet Sr. Maria Theresia Hörnemann, SSpS
Mission as Holy Folly - Words of Welcome
bullet P. Nestor Shwerz, OFM
Contemplativi nella missione

bullet Risposta: P. Arlindo Pereira Dias, SVD
bullet Sr. Maria Burke, SSpS
Comedy and Compassion

bullet Response: Fr. Pio Estepa, SVD
bullet Fr. Antonio Maria Pernia, SVD
Comedy and Missionary Communion

[Deutsch | Italiano]
bullet Response: Sr. Judith Vallimont, SSpS

During the joint death centennial of our Founder St. Arnold Janssen and our mission pioneer St. Joseph Freinademetz, a Symposium “Mission as Holy Folly” was organized on December 6, 2008, in Collegio del Verbo Divino, Rome. Our confreres from all the three Roman SVD communities, including the participants at Nemi (attending the International Renewal Program), about 30 Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit - both from the SSpS Generalate Via Cassia in Rome and elsewhere, as well as several invited guests took part in the Symposium.

This event, attended by over 120 participants and organized at the initiative of both the SVD/SSpS Generalate Mission Secretaries Fr. Pio Estepa and Sr. Mary John with a helping hand from many, was a day of reflection and communion. The Symposium, which began at 9.30 in the morning, included three major topics such as Comedy and Contemplative Mission, Comedy and Missionary Compassion, and Comedy and Missionary Communion.

The first speaker for the day was Fr. Nestor Shwerz, OFM. Talking on the theme Comedy and Contemplative Mission, he helped the participants reflect “How does contemplation nourish missionary listening and proclaiming of the Gospel as ‘divine comedy”.

When it was the turn of Sr. Maria Burke, SSpS, to speak on the theme Comedy and Missionary Compassion, she invited her listeners to ponder over “What wisdom can missionary congregations reap from living out the drama of ‘inculturating’the Gospel amid various peoples?” Recollecting her missionary experiences while she lived and worked for many years in the islands of Papua New Guinea, Sr. Maria gave several valuable thoughts to the participants to become more compassionate to each other and to our collaborators in the mission.

Soon after a sumptuous lunch, it was Superior General Fr. Antonio Pernia who addressed the floor. The topic given to Fr. Pernia was Comedy and Missionary Communion. In his well structured and highly reflective talk highlighted “What wisdom can religious congregations reap from living through the drama of forming multicultural missionary communities?” Fr. Pernia developed this topic in three steps – following the Latin American scheme of “See”, “Judge” and “Act”. First, an observation (“see”) about “disorder in religious orders”. Secondly, a reflection (“judge”) on “wisdom from disorder”. And thirdly, a recommendation (“act”), consisting of a few points about “forming inter-cultural communities”.

The Symposium was concluded at 4.30 in the afternoon with a panel discussion. Sr. Mary John, SSpS was the moderator of the session, and General Councilor Fr. Arlindo Pereira Dias, Mission Secretary Fr. Pio Estepa and Sr. Judith Vallimont, SSpS responded to some of the questions and reflections that came from the part of the participants.

The invitation for the Symposium carried this introduction: Faith inspired humor consists in contemplative welcoming of the sundry incongruities within oneself as experienced through one’s life story. It is the first bold leap of faith….out of chaotic situations that may look as absurd tragedies…towards trusting hope that everything works for the good of those who love God (Rom 8:28).

Mission as Holy Folly!

St. Arnold Janssen went around asking for help to found a formation house for foreign missionaries.

Fr. Fugmann (curate in Kempis) responded sarcastically: “Go ahead, you have all that it takes. Firstly, you have the needed stubbornness, and secondly the required piety. Thirdly, you are impractical enough.”

Bishop Paredis of Roermond: “Fr. Janssen, chaplain of the Ursulines in Kempen, came to see me. He wants to found a mission house…and yet he has nothing! He is either a saint or a fool.”

Archbishop Melchers of Cologne: “We live in a time when everything is shaking and sinking… and you want to start something new?”

Fr. Arnold replied: “It is because things are now collapsing that new ones need to be put up in their place.”

Mission as Holy Folly!

Thomas Kallanchira