From the Director - The biggest changes are ahead of us

New Regional Director - Fr Brian Vale"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every purpose under the heavens.” (Eccelesiastes 3:1)

As I begin to appreciate that I am entering a new year I am reminded that time is a constantly evolving backdrop to my life. Some things within me and around me remind me that this is indeed a “new” year and other things hardly seem to change. On November 23, 2017 Pope Francis sent a video message for the 7th Festival of Social Doctrine of the Church in which he said: “Being faithful involves the capacity for change.”

Pope Francis said: “The Word of God helps us to distinguish between the two “faces” of change: the first is trust, hope, openness to the new; the second is the difficulty of leaving certainties to head for the unknown.” He also noted that if we stay in our enclosure we feel calmer and it is more secure but encouraged us to “go out, to depart and start up new processes.”

In 2018 St Columbans Mission Society is celebrating 100 years since our founders, Fr Edward Galvin and Fr John Blowick, were given the official permission from Rome to answer the call of our Missionary God to “go out, to depart” and to begin a new mission to the people of China. 100 years later that initial fervour and excitement has changed and the number of our priest members is diminishing. The energy and style of being a missionary, the style of missionary presence is also evolving.

The “new processes” of mission today demand a more measured, more honest and transparent living out of the missionary charism. The Word of God is speaking to us through a different situation. The recent findings in Australia of the Royal Commission on Institutional Sexual Abuse of Children is calling the Church to a much more humble, more transparent style of presence which values dialogue.

It may be a little scary but there is a sense that the biggest changes for our Church and for St Columbans Mission Society are ahead of us. Yet we are all still called to dream and not stay in the security of our enclosures. Dreams set the framework of our thinking and our style of living is framed by how we see our future. At my stage in life I am grappling with how to be patient, adjusting to a new rhythm of waiting in our rapidly changing world. I am used to waiting for the Word of God, the Resurrected Jesus in my prayer life. I seem to live on small shifts or hints from God. I try to live in the present, in the now and live in hope. Hope is an experience of enduring, persevering, which has meaning and gives me a sense of mission.

For many of us in this part of the world this is a time for vacation and hopefully some rest. I plan to use some of this time to appreciate that our Creator God is the God of space and time who is offering these moments to me as a gift. Hopefully I will come to a deeper sense that God is present, is caring for all of us and watching over us at the beginning of this new year.

Fr Brian Vale

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