“When I’m done with formation, I can get busy with what really matters…”
I’m as guilty of this comment as any priest or brother. We see the mission and want to focus all our energy outward. However, our own formation is crucial to our mission; and to be effective, formation must continue throughout our lives.
You and I need renewal to reshape our lives according to Christ’s gospel; only then can our hearts be shaped like His. New challenges require ongoing formation so our lives will open to new possibilities. Sometimes I embrace renewal; sometimes I resist. You know this too; it’s where we are both flawed and graced. It’s where the mystery of God resides.
The Redemptorists take renewal seriously. This year, each member is participating in a renewal program called “Renewed Hope, Renewed Hearts, Renewed Structures.” These retreats help us deepen our commitment to our common life, learn from collective wisdom and challenge ourselves to engage people who need to hear the Gospel. Renewal calls us to move from away from comfort and familiarity and seek skills and a renewed missionary spirit that makes us effective missionaries (Constitution 90).
At the same time, confreres and lay missionaries from the worldwide Redemptorist family celebrated our 25th General Chapter, held in Thailand this past November. We evaluated our missionary activity in light of current realities: growing need for evangelization, new faces of the poor and abandoned, fewer Redemptorists, and more laity involvement in the charism of the Congregation. At the heart of this discussion is growth in missionary spirit and listening to where God calls us.
Our seminarians are being formed in this missionary spirit. In the spirit of Alphonsus, they accept the challenge to bring the Gospel to the most abandoned poor. Please join me in prayer for our men, those seeking their vocation, and all people discerning God’s call. Without our prayers, they have a tough time listening to the voice of God.
This New Year, I share my prayer with you during your own renewal. How will God speak to you? Will you be open to God’s direction, or will the challenge be too much? God bless you for your prayers and generous gifts that make so much possible for your Redemptorist seminarians.
In Christ the Redeemer,
Father John K. Schmidt,
Director, Co-Redemptorist Association
P.S. As you plan your giving for 2017, please include the Co-Redemptorist Association. Begin that commitment with a gift today.