Our missioners in formation arrived just last week. Susan Slavin of Centerpoint, NY and Sandra and Byrce Bradford of Detroit, MI began their intensive mission formation classes on Monday, August 23, 2010. This past Sunday was their first mass celebration at St. Camillus where in 13 weeks from now they will be commissioned for their three years of service in Africa.
During the mass, Rhegan Hyypio, FMS program director and Return Missioner, introduced her mission students. Susan, Sandra, and Bryce came before the altar to receive a blessing from Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, O.F.M. and the congregation applauded them with great enthusiasm.
The timing just seemed right for the missioners. Not only did they receive a blessing for the beginning of their journey, but they also witnessed the baptism of a baby girl named Amani. The weekend at FMS had already been filled with the message of peace, but Amani means “peace” in Swahili. During the baptism, the congregation renewed their baptismal vows and the choir specifically chose to sing an African hymn about peace, in honor of the newborn baby Amani.
“Baptism,” observed Bryce Bradford, “is a commissioning, a welcoming into the family of God, and open call to study the gospel.” He likened the ceremony of baptism to his call to mission, having the mission to go out and express the love of his faith.
The recessional hymn at mass was appropriately “We Are Called”, in which the lyrics – “We are called to act with justice, to love tenderly, to serve one another” – epitomize our missioners in formation. They have discerned their call to the ministry of presence and they have begun their formation; they are intent on preparing themselves to live out their baptismal call and serve with a message of peace and love.