Mission does not end with a flight back to the U.S. It does not end with the completion of a term of service or a year of volunteering. 

Every three years, our returned missioners from across the country gather in Colorado for three days to reflect on this fact. This weekend, our retreat centers around the theme, “Reverse Mission: the Challenges and Hopes.”

Mission abroad was only the first step.  Now, we carry all the knowledge and stories we’ve learned from our international brothers and sisters in Christ, and move forward living out those lessons and values instilled in us as Franciscan lay missioners.  And we recommit our lives to service through prayer.

This weekend, you too can take time to reflect on your commitment to mission in your everyday life. Whether you spent years in a foreign country or currently spend a few hours a week volunteering in your community, stop to think about what the time had meant to you. How have you witnessed God in those experiences and the people you encountered? Look ahead: How can God continue to use you as an instrument of peace and love?

Recommissioning prayer at the 2010 Returned Missioners Retreat.

The following recommissioning prayer is a beautiful way to celebrate an end while embracing a continuing commitment to answer God’s call to act with justice, love tenderly and walk humbly.

Consider using this prayer with your volunteer community at the end of your time together, or as part of a graduation ceremony, good-bye party, retreat, or short-term mission trip. Participants can either receive the blessing from the leader, or partner-off to trace the sign of the cross on each other. You may choose to use oil or holy water.

Recommissioning Prayer
As we prepare to leave this place in order to continue the mission God has set before us, we take time to bless one another by tracing a cross on the forehead, ears, eyes, lips, heart, hands and feet as directed in the following prayer:

Receive the sign of the cross…

…on your forehead. It is Jesus Christ who strengthens you with this sign of love.
…on your ears, that you may hear and be guided by the voice of God.
…on your eyes, that you may see the glory of God every day of your life.
…on your lips, that you may speak of God’s justice, peace and love.
…over your heart, that the Spirit of God may dwell there.
…on your hands, that Jesus Christ may be known in the work you do.
…on your feet, that you may walk in the way of Jesus Christ.

As you go, remember to live simply, love generously, serve faithfully, speak truthfully, act peacefully, remember constantly, pray daily and leave the rest to God.