I am to celebrate my 34th anniversary as an ordained priest this year, and lately I have discovered that I am a child of missionaries. You should have seen the looks of shock among the parishioners when I declared this publicly during a Sunday homily. I had to calm them down right away by modifying my statement and say — “a child in faith” of missionaries!
Yes! I was brought up in a parish where most of the priests I have known, in participating at Masses, were missionaries from Europe, the United States, Australia and even New Zealand. I remember how all of them exerted efforts to celebrate the Mass and preach in my local language in weird accents that kept me awake waiting for mispronounced words that made no sense, if not humorous.
Today, the young foreign missionaries in New Zealand are the children in faith of missionaries of yesteryears. Most of them come from Asia and the Pacific where many Kiwi and Aussie missionaries went and worked before. In Asia, vocations to the priesthood and religious life flourish in countries like India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Worldwide, the biggest number of young vocations come from many countries in Africa.
Poverty is at the heart of the essence of the Church. This means that all local Church will always be in want. No local Church will ever be completely self-sufficient. Poverty keeps the Church catholic; the Church will always need someone to reach out to them be it financially, spiritually and even personnel.
MissioNZ, the Pontifical Mission Societies in New Zealand has able to contribute to help in the formation of seminarians in the Major Seminaries in Fiji, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Uganda, and the Diocesan Seminary in Auckland.
Vocation may not flourish as it was before in the Western countries, including New Zealand. But the Holy Spirit continue to work mysteriously in the young men and women in Asia and Africa. They once were missionary- receiving countries. Today, the Holy Spirit is still attentive to the longings of many hearts that pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send labourers to the harvest fields. MissioNZ appeal to generous hearts to help sustain the formation program of young seminarians and candidates to the religious life.