Category Archives: Church (ecclesiology)

Jesus is not an isolated missionary, nor are we

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“Go and make Christ known to all nations.” The missionary spirit is once again coming to the table. As Christians, we are baptized to come into communion with God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to live as adopted children of God faithful to the life of the Church. The sacrament of Baptism makes us disciples of the Lord. We can’t forget, nor can we neglect, to make the Lord known to all people by the witness of our lives. Our call is the same as the Prophet Isaiah’s, “Here am I; send me” (Is 6:8). The preaching of the Lord’s Kingdom is not reserved to few; no, the mission to proclaim the presence of the Kingdom is given to all the baptized in all places. Hence, we work doing the new evangelization. Catholics as missionaries in this country needs renewal. We Catholics can’t leave the missionary work to the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, the Evangelicals or the Muslims. If we truly believe that the Lord has given us Himself as the way, the truth and the life, then we ought to share this experience. Moreover, in living the Gospel, following the teaching of the Church, the reception of the sacraments, we care for those live on the margins (think of the corporal works of mercy).

I see in Pope Francis calling us to be attentive to the missionary impulse again as fundamental to our faith and life in the Church. The Pope comes as this missionary notion from his own spiritual formation received as a member of the Society of Jesus. No doubt he thinks of the early founders of the Jesuits, and he likely recalls the Jesuit saint Francis Borgia, the third Jesuit Superior General who spent much energy on missionary vocation of the Jesuits, of translating the faith and the Exercises of Loyola into a more concrete expression. We can say that Pope, like Borgia, knows that the missionary work we are called to perform is a ministry that takes on a variety of aspects: preaching, teaching, sanctifying, interceding, healing, guiding others in the spiritual life, administering and governance.

Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus address needs to be studied and prayed about. Think about the points highlighted.

This Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 10:1-12.17-20) speaks to us precisely of this: of the fact that Jesus is not an isolated missionary, does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples. Today we see that, in addition to the Twelve Apostles, He calls seventy-two others, and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near. This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone, He has come to bring to the world the love of God and wants to spread that love with a style of communion and fraternity. For this reason, he forms immediately a community of disciples, which is a missionary community. Iright from the start, He trains them for the mission, to go [on the mission].

Beware, however: the purpose is not to socialize, to spend time together – no, the purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and this is urgent! There is no time to waste in small talk, no need to wait for the consent of all – there is need only of going out and proclaiming. The peace of Christ is to be brought to everyone, and if some do not receive it, then you go on. To the sick is to be brought healing, because God wants to heal man from all evil. How many missionaries do this! They sow life, health, comfort to the peripheries of the world.

These seventy-two disciples, whom Jesus sent ahead of him, who are they? Whom do they represent? If the Twelve are the Apostles, and therefore also represent the Bishops, their successors, these may represent seventy-two other ordained ministers – priests and deacons – but in a wider sense we can think of other ministries in the Church, catechists and lay faithful who engage in parish missions, those who work with the sick, with the various forms of discomfort and alienation, but always as missionaries of the Gospel, with the urgency of the Kingdom that is at hand.

The Gospel says that those seventy-two returned from their mission full of joy, because they had experienced the power of the Name of Christ against evil. Jesus confirms this: to these disciples He gives the strength to defeat the evil one. He adds, though: “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)” We should not boast as if we were the protagonists: the protagonist is the Lord [and] His grace. Our joy is only this: [in] being His disciples, His friends. 

May Our Lady help us to be good servants of the Gospel.

Pope Francis

Sunday Angelus Address

8 July 20013

A new bishop for Oakland: Jesuit Michael Barber

Michael C. Barber arms.jpgFather Michael Charles Barber, SJ, was ordained a bishop today for service in the Diocese of Oakland. Last eve he professed his Catholic faith and took the oath of fidelity. The Sacrifice of the Mass with the Rites of Episcopal Ordination were offered at 11am pacific time.

With prayer to the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands by Metropolitan Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Jesuit Bishop Carlos Sevilla (emeritus bishop of Yakima) and Bishop Thomas Daly. Sevilla is also a member of the California Province of Jesuits. For trivial purposes only, Bishop Gordan Bennett, SJ, bishop emeritus of Mandeville, former auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, is also a California Jesuit.
Father Barber is the first member of the Society of Jesus to be elected a bishop by his fellow Jesuit and Pope, Francis. The appointment was made on May 3. Barber is the first Jesuit to be a bishop who will serve in the USA since Bishop George Vance Murry (Youngstown, OH). 

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When the Church is closed off, it gets sick…we need many witnesses


A Saturday May 19th Q&A session with the various members of ecclesial movements and Pope Francis was inspiring to me. More than 120 thousand attended the events. The pope said much; much of it not available in print but what is available is here due the translations of the Vatican Information Service. It is hard to nail the pope down on all the things he said because a fair of amount of talks are off-the-cuff. This 3 minute video presentation by Rome Reports gives a good sense as to what we are supposed to be about. Nevertheless, there is enough to reflect on and to see where we find ourselves viz-a-viz Francis’ response.

Q: “How were you able to achieve certainty of faith in your life, and what path can you indicate to us so that each one of us can overcome our fragility of faith?”

A: “I have had the good fortune to grow up in a family where the faith was lived in a simple and concrete manner … The first proclamation is in the home, within the family, right? And this makes me think of the love of so many mothers and so many grandmothers in the transmission of the faith. … We do not find our faith in the abstract, no! It is always a person who preaches it to us, who tells us who Jesus is, who gives us the faith, who gives us the first announcement. … But there is a very important day for me: September 21, 1953. I was almost 17. It was the ‘Students’ Day’…. Before going to the festival, I went to my parish and met a priest I did not know, but I felt the need to confess. … After confession I felt that something had changed. I was not the same. I felt a voice call me: I was convinced that I had to become a priest. This experience of faith is important. We say that we must seek God, go to him to ask for forgiveness … but when we go, He is already waiting for us. He is the first one there! … And this creates wonder in the hearts of those who do not believe, and this is how faith grows! With an encounter with a Person, with an encounter with the Lord.”

Regarding fragility: “Fragility’s biggest enemy curiously enough, is fear. But do not be afraid! We are weak, we know it but He is stronger! If you are with him, then there is no problem! A child is fragile–I see many today–but they are with their fathers and their mothers so they are safe! We too are safe with the Lord; we are secure. Faith grows with the Lord, out of the very hands of the Lord.”

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The Church by the numbers 2013


On 13 May 2013, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, SDB, the Secretary of State and Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the assistant in the same office, presented the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (the Church’s Statistical Yearbook) to Pope Francis and the rest of the Church.

This annual publication is official document outlining ever imaginable stat one would want to know, and more.

The statistical information in the Church Yearbook refers to the year 2011 which details the Catholic Church in the 2,979 ecclesiastical circumscriptions. That is, the dioceses and other administrations of the Church around the planet.

As already known, the Church is diminishing in Europe and growing in Asia and Africa.

General statistics:

  • From 2010 to 2011, the number of bishops increased from 5,104 to 5,132;
  • The steady increase in the number of priests which began in the year 2000 has continued. From 412,236 priests in 2010 to 413,418 in 2011;
  • The number of permanent deacons registered a strong increase: from 29,000 in 2001 to 41,000 in 2011;
  • Candidates for the priesthood, diocesan and religious, have increased since 2001 (112,244) by 7.5%. In 2011, there were 120,616 registered;
  • The number of Catholics in the world increased from 1.196 billion in 2010 to 1.214 billion in 2011, an increase of 18 million faithful.

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Clarence Gallagher, SJ, RIP

The Church mourns Father Clarence Gallagher, SJ, who died yesterday in England.

My friendship with Father Clarence didn’t run long or deep as though who studied under him or sought him for spiritual counsel. But knowing him was a delight; he was helpful in some matters pertaining to me several years ago when he was just leaving the office of rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO), Rome (1990-95).
His mission in England and later in Rome was as being the formation director of Jesuits in formation and who also served as professor, spiritual father, Dean of Canon Law and Rector of the PIO. Moreover, he was also a judge in the canon law courts of the Second Instance of the Lazio dioceses. Father Clarence is remembered for his humor and availability in a Church facing many ecclesial changes in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s as he ably guided people of all ranks in the Church through the changes that came with the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and later the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Church.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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