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Fr. Antonio message to Calavi 2021

 As usual on June 25, marking the anniversary of the death of Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac, new members are received into the SMA. To his new members the Superior General delivers this message of welcome and congratulations.

 

 

 

 Dear brothers, you have just taken your first oath. Thank you to you, to your families, to your formators of this year and the of previous ones, to all those who have supported you and will continue to do so. Thank you above all to the Lord himself who continues to call workers into his vineyard.

You are entering a great and glorious family and I would like to assure you of the support, the encouragement, and the prayer of us all.
During your oath, in front of the assembly you said: “… knowing the aim of the Society of African Missions, I swear to remain as a member for one year in order to take part in its missionary life and activity.” After a few years, if it is God’s will, you will say: “I swear to remain as a member for the rest of my life.”
 

To remain in the Society of African Missions! What is the meaning of the adjective "African", which is applied to the name "Missions"?
 

Today I would like to share with you a reflection on this adjective "African", a reflection that has been developed over the years, that is evolving and that surely also requires your participation. This reflection is directly related to the need to adapt our charism to today’s complex and changing context. It is also a contribution to the project “Journey Towards 2026” undertaken with the NDA Sisters for a greater awareness and updating of the common heritage of our two Institutes.
 

I see three aspects in the adjective “African” added to the name of our Society. The first is a “historical” meaning and it takes us back to the beginning of the SMA.
The main purpose of the SMA is the evangelisation of those countries in Africa which are most in need of missionaries”. This is the first sentence of the Fundamental Articles written by our Venerable Founder in 1858. Here Africa is passive. It receives a precious treasure: the Gospel, the Good News. This Good News is brought by missionaries from elsewhere. They are willing to sacrifice everything to bring salvation to the most abandoned. The 25th of June, the day of the death of our venerable Founder, is the symbolic date in which initiated an unbroken chain of lives generously given to the missions, right up to the present day. By joining the SMA today through your oath, you are continuing this generosity which is part of our DNA. This first meaning of the adjective “African”, therefore describes us as the Society of lives given for Mission in Africa.

 
A second meaning of the Adjective “African” I would call it “demographic”. Here we consider the people who respond yes to the voice that calls them to mission. From this point of view, the expression “African Missions” means that the members of our Society are more and more African. In the year 2021, our Society has 767 members of which 383 are of European and American origin, 313 of African origin, and 71 of Asian origin. If we consider the new permanent members of the last six years, we had 124 permanent oaths: 106 from African members, 13 from Asian members and 5 from European and American members. From a demographic point of view we can therefore conclude that our Missionary Society is African because the majority of its active members are African and they will be even more so in the near future. Here Africa is not at all passive, but active. I would like to urge you all today to unleash your creativity, your capacity for innovation, the great energies of the African youth to witness to the Good News of Jesus. We are the Society of African Missions because we want to release the energy of Africa for Mission.

A third aspect of the adjective African I would call, “Experiential”. This aspect concerns all the members of our society, no matter where they come from or where they are. We are the Society of African Missions because our missionary identity is characterised by the experience of proclamation, conversion and sharing of faith lived in Africa. These are gifts that we gather in Africa and that we can offer to all in the 17 countries of the continent or in the dozen other countries in America, Asia and Europe where we are present. I am thinking, for example, of the joyful participation in the liturgy, of the religious sense of life so spontaneous in Africa, of the joy of praying and thanking the Lord, of the sense of welcome and trust in Providence, of the international brotherhood that we have experienced.
We are members of the Society of African Missions to make known to all the world the typical gifts of Africa that can be shared in the joy of openness and fraternity.

Dear brothers, new members of the Society of African Missions: may the Holy Spirit who has guided you to this moment give you the full joy and pride of being worthy children of Melchior de Marion Brésillac. You are now active members of the Society of African Missions: Society of lives offered for the mission in Africa; Society for freeing Africa’s energies for the Mission, Society of those who witness in the whole world the welcome and the fraternity experienced in Africa.