Encountering each other as ‘missionary disciples’

November 7, 2017
Pope Francis visits Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

By Genevieve Mougey

Back in 2013, four months into his new role as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis took a trip to a small island named Lampedusa in the Mediterranean Sea. The island is known to be the crossing point for many migrants and immigrants coming to Europe – seeking safe passage for themselves and their families.    

As noted in a previous Bread blog post, “…the number of people who are forced to flee their homes is increasing. It is not that many migrants are ‘attracted’ to places like the United States, but rather they are ‘expelled’ from their countries of origin by factors beyond their control.”  

Informed by his pastoral work in Argentina as a priest, bishop, and cardinal, Pope Francis wants people from all corners of the world to participate in a new way of encountering each other. The pope reminds us that we are called “as missionary disciples.”  

But what is missionary discipleship? In “The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium): Apostolic Exhortation,” the pope answers the question by writing, “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries,’ but rather that we are ‘missionary disciples.’ …each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are.  All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord.”   

We are asked to reflect and then encounter one another. How are we living our life as God’s people to encounter one another? The Holy Father’s answer came when he welcomed several migrant families and individuals into his city and home in 2015 and 2016.

Through that experience – the sharing of coming together with one another, especially with our migrant, immigrant, and refugee brother and sisters –  was the impetus for the “Share the Journey” campaign.

The two-year long campaign, which began in September, asks us to encounter each other. It asks us to be missionary disciples to each other.  At its heart, it is the vision of a united global family. The focus is people on the move—those in departure, transit, and host communities.  We are asked to promote opportunities and spaces for migrants and communities to come together and share stories and experiences with the aim of strengthening the bonds between migrants and communities. 

On Nov. 8, Bread for World will participate in the campaign by accompanying our colleagues from the National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry (NCADDHM) to Capitol Hill as they ask members of Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017. The legislation provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants or "Dreamers," who were brought to the United States at a young age by their parents., 

We ask for your prayers of solidarity, and to call (800-826-3688) your representative and senators and tell them to support and pass the Dream Act of 2017! I encourage everyone to find ways to act as “missionary disciples” and share in the journey together.

Genevieve Mougey is senior national associate for Roman Catholic engagement at Bread for the World.

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