1 May is the feast of St Joseph the Worker. St Joseph is remembered for listening carefully before acting humbly and generously. This year the feast comes a week after the launch in Sydney of our five-year Province Apostolic Plan 2019-24: ‘A Call to Mission in Hope’.
Our Province mission is a call to ‘mission in hope’ because hope in our world and in our Church is something we need at this time.
The recent killings of innocent people in Christchurch and Sri Lanka are stark reminders of the violence and evil that remains in the world. This evil denies human life and goodness. It removes the everyday desire we all share to live in a safe, friendly and hospitable world. It destroys hope.
But hope is not a simple remedy to be applied when we face human injustice and suffering. It does not arise just because we need it or ask for it. It is a gift that brings out the best of ourselves and one another when all seems lost, confused and hopeless.
It is a call to live our human lives with a renewed sense of depth and a commitment to what is most important.
The Apostolic Plan seeks to bear hope. It came to fruition after nearly two years of much consultation. It comes at a time when the Australian Church is hurting and vulnerable, and when 17,000 submissions from some 223,000 individuals have been offered for the upcoming Plenary Council.
We live in a time when hope is hungered for and when many within the Church, lay people especially, are standing up and speaking out.
In Sydney last week, I named five priorities for our Province mission for the next five years:
- Nourish our ministries though Ignatian Spirituality;
- Heal humanity and our world;
- Form the young in a faith seeking justice;
- Strengthen Jesuit and Lay partnership in mission;
- Serve Christ through the Church within our Jesuit and Ignatian tradition.
Over the coming months we will invite more reflection on these priorities and how they can be expressed by each one of us in every aspect of our lives, not just in our communities and ministries. Where can we find this new depth of life that we are invited to live and to ask of each other at this time?
Can we, as individuals, communities and ministries, become new messengers of hope? Can we allow these priorities to infuse our lives and works in new and life-giving ways?
A week after our launch we remember St Joseph the Worker. He listened carefully before he acted and when he acted, he did so with humility and generosity. He lived with hope and courage through much anxiety and uncertainty. He encourages each of us in our own time.
Fr Brian F. McCoy SJ, Provincial