Monday, July 22, 2019

Paris Foreign Missions and Young People

A diocesan priest waiting to go to Africa on a mission assignment writes about his experience living with over a hundred priests of the Paris Foreign Missions Society. He writes about his stay at the Society House in France in the recent Kyeongyang magazine. In the past, he was involved working with the young.

Walking around the property he noticed the many memories of the young bishops and priests who over 170-180 years ago came to Korea to die. They came to a small country in the Far East in their 20 and 30s in the springtime of their lives to help build the Christian community among Koreans. He fixes his hands in prayer and gratitude. Many of them died a martyrs' death.

Not too long ago he ate his meals with over 30 young people who from early morning to late at night were learning about life on the missions, giving him great joy. They were filled with enthusiasm. He was curious about their presence and asked one of the priests. They were there from all over France to learn and share.

The Society began a program about 15 years ago for the youth of France following the mission objectives of the society from the beginning. They have about 150 selected for the program, conducted 4 times during the year. They are sent to Madagascar and the countries of Asia to work with their priests for 3 months to 2 years.

He met a young woman who was just recently married and was attending the mission school. She and her husband will be going to the Philippines for 2 years. He was under the impression that the Church in France was in decline this news gave him a new way of seeing the French Church.

This movement within the society naturally helps to discover vocations to the religious life. Even now there are those at a young age working on a mission who go on to become seminarians and missioners. But the first objective of the school is not the development of vocations but to form missioners to work in different countries with their members. During the program, they give the volunteers an understanding of vocation to many different ways of life. 

He would like to see this also develop within the Korean church. What the Church has been trying to do in recent meetings with representatives from the different countries, the Paris Foreign Missions has been doing for some time.

The young people will always be an important element within the church. Recently Pope Francis in a talk to the young people of a diocese in France recommended three values he hopes they will pursue.

First, he called on them to always be “builders of bridges between people, seeking to advance a culture of encounter and dialogue, to contribute to the coming of an authentic human fraternity.”

Secondly, caring for the smallest and poorest amongst us, the Pope told them, “you can light stars in the night for the many who are tried in various ways”.

Thirdly, "God takes us to where humanity is most wounded, where men and women, beneath the appearance of a shallow conformity, continues to seek an answer to the question of life's meaning." Rejoice and Be Glad Apostolic EXhortation #135.

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