Written by Sherry
Sunday, 08 February 2009 16:07
Here's a truly unusual group: the Family MIssions Company. A small group of lay missionaries (with their Bishop's blessing) founded 3o years ago by a married couple with 7 children. FMC works in Mexico, Spain, the Phillipines, and other places and provides missionary training for young adults at their home base in Louisiana.
This sort of (literally) mom-and-pop apostolic initiative is rare among Catholics in my experience. What is more impressive is that they have persevered for over 30 years, raising their own support, and still passionate about their mission. Take a look at their latest newsletter which has some very moving reflections by their young missionaries and check out some of their blogs. 20 year old disciples living among the poor to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Faithful little groups like FMC are worthy of our attention, our gratitude, our prayers, and our support. This kind of apostolic initiative by the laity is really, genuinely Catholic. After all, one of our rights as lay men and women guaranteed in canon law is "the right to evangelize the nations".
As I have written here before:
Of course, the assumption among so many Catholics is that evangelism is an "invention" of Protestants. But the fact is that historically, Protestants didn't evangelize hardly at all for the first 300 years of their existence.
For the first 18 centuries of Christianity, it was Catholics who did almost all the proclamation and frontier evangelization - including during the 17th century Catholic revival. Which is why it did not occur to people like Frances de Sales and Vincent de Paul to worry about whether or not they were being sufficiently "Catholic" when they set out on their evangelizing preaching tours of rural areas, little villages, etc. In those days, they knew that they were simply following in a long and venerable Catholic tradition, in the footsteps of innumerable Catholic missionaries and saints. We have almost completely lost touch with our own tradition in this area.
The Protestant missionary/revival movement as we know it didn't take off until the early 19th century - when the fore-fathers of evangelicalism began their fledging efforts and it was only in the last half of the 20th century that Catholic evangelism efforts, traditionally led by religious orders, collapsed - while evangelicalism revved up into a truly global movement.
Our current situation is a complete aberration historically. Talk about returning to the sources and a hermeneutic of continuity! It's time our discussion of continuity encompassed more than the early 20th century and dealt with critical areas of the Church's life and mission beside the liturgy!
As FMC notes on their homepage:
“God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense the moment has come to commit all the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and mission to the nations. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church, can avoid this supreme duty; to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” - Pope John Paul II