Faith Matters

Archbishop Eamon Martin: Irish Catholics need to rediscover their 'missionary genes'

Pope Francis has designated October as an extraordinary month of mission. Picture by AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

IRISH Catholics need to rediscover their "missionary genes", Archbishop Eamon Martin has said.

Speaking on the first day of the extraordinary month of mission, which has been called by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Armagh said he saw signs of changing attitudes, "especially so here in Ireland where more and more we are speaking of 'mission' in the Church, rather than 'maintenance'."

"In many ways the missionary option should come as second nature to us here in Ireland, with our proud tradition of missionary outreach," he said.

"But to be truly in 'mission mode' within Ireland will mean opening ourselves up in the Church to a new way of being, a new way of thinking, a new way of praying, a new way of communicating our teaching."

Dr Martin reflected on some words of Pope Francis from his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: "I dream of a 'missionary option', that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church's customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today's world rather than for her self-preservation."

The logo of the extraordinary missionary month is a missionary cross where the colours refer to the five continents: red for America, green for Africa, white for Europe, yellow for Asia and blue for Oceania

"The theme which Pope Francis has chosen for this extraordinary month of mission is 'baptised and sent'," explained Dr Martin.

"Clearly he wants to rekindle in every baptised person that sense that we are all called to mission, to witness, to teach, to win others for Christ."

Dr Martin, speaking as he gave the homily on Tuesday at the opening of the Irish bishops' Autumn general meeting in St Patrick's College, Maynooth, said that the Irish Church should welcome the challenge "to rekindle the joy of the Gospel in our country; to find again the youth and courage that inspired Saint Columbanus and the great Irish missionaries of ancient times; to rediscover the adventure and excitement of the founders of the Irish missionary movements in more recent centuries".

"So many of our people, especially our young people are longing for meaning, purpose, hope and values that will last; they are not finding these in the shallow and empty promises of life without Christ," he said.

"Ireland, and much of Europe, has again become that new continent to be won for Christ."

It was, Dr Martin said, "time to revive our missionary genes, to renew our hearts for mission".


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