General – in our parish and at home
Today’s "mission fields" can be found both within and beyond one's own town, province and country. The traditional definition of mission fields has long been obsolete. "Mission" is no longer associated with priests and religious going off to some exotic place far away from home to win souls for Jesus. In fact, today's mission fields are as close as our own homes and families, even our own parishes. And today's missionaries are as much lay women and men as priests and religious. While foreign missions still enjoy particular focus and attention, missionary work is also needed right at home.
Modern culture, even though founded on and rooted in fundamental Christian values and virtues, no longer claims a public and direct connection with Christianity as a source of guidance and support. In order for us Christians to respond to our missionary calling, we need qualities that take an intentional commitment on our part. This means that we wish not only to be God's face, hands and feet after the example of Jesus, but we also seek, affirm, and nurture the things of God which are present in many different cultures, faith traditions and ways of life. Some of these are:
- We evangelize by attraction instead of force;
- We evangelize through the love, joy and compassion we exude;
- We engage both reason and heartfelt faithfulness as we face the challenging questions of a pluralistic world;
- We have the courage to engage in a spirit of respect and love the questions of meaning and dilemmas of pain and suffering which mark the lives of multitudes of people in today’s world;
- We foster a spirit of grace and humility by a commitment to rigorous self-examination (both individually and personally), prayer and community life; it is thus that we avoid the traps of triumphalism, judgment and self-righteousness.
- We are committed to finding creative yet faithful ways to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ, ways that speak to a culture adrift, a culture which in some ways has become a casualty of its own success.
- We live the tension between Tradition (that which is timeless in our Christian heritage, the core beliefs and doctrines) and traditions (those things which can change over time).
Church documents and reflections, especially since Vatican II, have voiced repeatedly the call of all the baptized to mission. We are modern missionaries in the workplace, in our schools, in our homes, families and parishes. Besides this primary place of mission, a growing number of lay women and men do feel called to “mission abroad.” This missionary work, however, embraces a more inclusive and incarnational theology of mission than was the case in the past.
In the Canadian Oblate world, Sheila Sullivan and Normand Péladeau are lay missionaries currently serving in the Oblate mission in Meru, Kenya.
For more on their experience, click here
For other examples of modern-day lay missionaries, go to
Blessing of the Animals at Labrador City Cathedral, click here.
Sheila and Normand, Summer 2006, click here.