A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Mission of Proclaiming the Gospel

Bishop Jean-Louis Papin, bishop of Nancy and Toul, (France), ordained to the diaconate, as a step towards priesthood, Julien Boury MEP (Paris Foreign Mission Society) and Ludovic Mathiou MEP on 22 June 2013, in Paris. Fr Georges Colomb, superior – general of the MEP informed them of their future mission territories: Julien, India, and Ludovic to Thailand to prepare for work in Myanmar.

An OrdinationJulien, Ludovic, ordination will make you servants in the Church, so that it may be truly the servant of all people. Because if you are ordained deacons, it is not primarily for your own benefit, but for the good of the human community and each of its members. Our Pope Francis, since his election, has not ceased warning us against a Church that exists only for itself and is forgetful of its mission. We have heard him addressing this same warning to priests and bishops, and, beyond them, to all those who exercise a ministry or a responsibility in the Church. Just as the Father sent his Son into the world, in the same way Christ sends his disciples to the ends of the earth to teach and baptise, so that men and women might have life in abundance. The mission of proclaiming the Gospel is so essential to the Church that Pope Paul VI declared, in his wonderful exhortation on evangelisation [“Evangelii Nuntiandi” 1975]

“Evangelising is ... the special grace and calling of the Church, its deepest identity.

“Evangelising is ... the special grace and calling of the Church, its deepest identity. It exists to evangelise, that is, to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace.” These words of Paul VI were frequently referred to during the recent synod on the New Evangelisation in Rome. Certainly we must proclaim the Gospel to those people who are already members of the Church, because we all need to be evangelised. Besides, how could we proclaim the Gospel if we did not allow ourselves to be evangelised? Even more, we have to proclaim it to those who, while being distant from the life of the Church, approach us for one reason or another. But we cannot be content with that. We have to leave our traditional gathering-places to go out to those who will not come to us, and who ask nothing from us. The Church is truly Christ’s only if it goes out of itself to become in some way a Church outside- the- walls. “The urge to be missionary is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community”, wrote Benedict XVI in his apostolic exhortation on the Word of God.

Dear friends, you are going to be ordained to this ministry under the title of the Paris Foreign Mission Society, in this way becoming part of the long and beautiful line of those who have left their country and their homes to go and meet people and cultures other than their own. A number of them have given the most radical and finest witness to the Gospel, that of martyrdom [ Twenty –three in fact – translator’s note]. As the bishop of a diocese in Lorraine, allow me to mention here St Augustin Schoeffler who died because of his faith in Tonkin in 1851, and Nicolas Krick who with his companion Augustin Boury, was killed, three years later, in 1854 while trying to bring the Gospel into Tibet. Their fate, along with that of many others, tells us that there is no true service of the Gospel without the gift of self which can be total. Most of those who left for distant missions had deeply understood that. And are we not disciples of Jesus, the Servant, who gave his life to proclaim the Kingdom?   

From “Missions Etrangeres de Paris” September, 2013.

Translated by Brian Quin, s.m.


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