.- Announcing the agenda for its third ever United States Mission Congress, to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico from October 28 to 31, the United States Catholic Mission Association described a need “to put our Church in a constant state of mission.” The association's director notes that the gathering is occurring at an important moment for missionary activity in the church.
“The 2010 Mission Congress comes at a time when world-wide mission is the focus of many Catholic initiatives in recent years,” Fr. Michael Montoya announced on Friday.
He cited the bishops' 2008 Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, themes of global outreach during Pope Benedict's visit to America during the same year, and the resolution made by Latin American and Caribbean bishops three years ago to launch a “continental mission” throughout their countries.
Those bishops' vision of far-ranging missionary work, described in the papally-authorized “Aparecida statement” of 2007, is a conscious inspiration to the American organizers of Mission Congress 2010. They will be hosting Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, to discuss the vision of a “continental mission” and its importance for the United States and all North America.
At least 16 U.S. bishops are reportedly attending the congress. Two of them, USCCB vice-president Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon and Bishop Michael J. Warfel of Great Falls and Billings, will lead a workshop on the domestic missionary dioceses known as “Catholic Home Missions.”
Other speakers will include the Hispanic ministry expert Fr. Gary Riebe-Estrella, and Maryknoll Sisters president Sister Janice McLaughlin, who will bring to the congress nearly 40 years of experience in African countries. Participants will receive a bilingual manual containing information on American and global missionary initiatives.
Fr. Michael Montoya described the manual as “a charge to go forth and continue promoting mission and global solidarity.”
Fr. Montoya said the intention of the congress, which is held every five years, is to “invigorate mission identity and leadership in the U.S. Church,” and to showcase the diverse “faces and creativity of U.S. Catholics in mission.”