These words come from Cardinal Rodriquez, who spoke at the 2010 Mission Congress in Albuquerque, NM, which took place back in October. Kim Smolik was invited to facilitate this conference which brought together the integral leaders from all over the world to dialog about mission in the Catholic Church. Throughout the conference, religious and lay examined emerging trends in mission, celebrated the many enterprises and accomplishments over the last year, and to came to see mission as growing in communion with one another.
The theme of the Mission Congress was “God’s Mission, Many Faces: A Portrait of US Catholics in Mission.” During the weekend, those present reflected on how mission brings together a variety of individuals, each contributing their own personal “brushstroke” to make strides in social justice worldwide. With FMS’ strong emphasis on community and solidarity with impoverished communities, our vision is on the forefront of mission today.
The Mission Congress was a model of community and relationship building among the religious and laity, a witness to the possibilities of partnership in mission. The congregation and leaders in attendance acknowledged the challenges of partnerships between religious and laity and envisioned how they could work together to make mission truly transformational for everyone involved. Mariam Mitry, Associate Director of FMS, had several conversations with religious interested in partnering with laity in mission overseas.
One of the key focuses of the Mission Congress was the essential role of laity in mission. “The laity,” said Cardinal Rodriguez, “should be involved in all levels of planning and carrying out mission.”
In creating effective partnerships and fostering authentic mission overseas, the leaders at the event stressed the need for formation on all levels, both for those lay missioners preparing for short and long term mission, as well as for the laity of the church in general. The speakers emphasized a need for increased teaching in social analysis and Catholic Social Teaching in North American parishes.
The Mission Congress was a time to reflect on the current identity of mission, how it has become less about “building institutions” and more about “building relationships.”
“(Mission) is about being with,” said Sr. Janice, another keynote speaker, it is about accompanying and advocating alongside those we come to know in mission.”
In closing at the Mission Congress, Kim Smolik noted the progress that had been made over the last ten years in mission, in how we have learned to grow deeper in relationship with others through spirituality and the ministry of presence. “Let us be encouraged,” Smolik said, “that we are able to see right now, our own growth, we are already on this journey together.”
Below see more pictures of the key figures who lead the Mission Congress and contributed to its success: