“I am not everybody but I am somebody; I cannot do everything but I can do something; what I can do I ought to do; what I ought to do I will do by the grace of God.”
This affirmation was delivered by Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) President Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica to persons gathered at the Centre of Excellence last Sunday (September 22) for the close of the 1st AEC Mission Congress.
These words were said to him by the late Bishop Emeritus Charles Gachet FMI when Bishop Malzaire received the Sacrament of Confirmation, 50 years ago at age 12.
“And to this day I remember the saying because from my Confirmation, I felt charged to do something with my life and with the world in which I live,” he said.
The AEC President then commissioned all to “go forth” and join the Bishops of the AEC in envisioning the Church what it ought to be.
“Go out, teach, preach, sanctify the world in the way God has called you by virtue of your baptism. So, go forth and spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God,” he said, to applause.
Sunday’s programme, which was initially scheduled to take place at the Queen’s Park Savannah with a Closing Mass at 3 p.m. was changed to the Centre of the Excellence with a 9 a.m. Mass due to the adverse weather alert.
Among those in attendance were Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Archbishop Jason Gordon and Fr Tadeusz Nowak, representative from Rome.
Bishop Malzaire mentioned that over the past few days of the Congress, participants had been reflecting on the theme Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on mission in the world. “We have listened to many speeches and reflections and I’m sure those who attended the entire sessions are charged with energy to go and make a difference…”
Bishop Malzaire said that it is his responsibility to “commission” all to go forth to do what they have been charged to do by virtue of baptism, but in order to do so, he read a quote from a letter written to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples by Pope Francis.
It reads: “I hope that all communities will devote the necessary efforts to advancing along the path of pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they are presently….”
Mere administration, Pope Francis said, can no longer be enough.
“Throughout the world let us be permanently in a state of mission. Let us not fear to undertake with trust in God and great courage our missionary option, capable of transforming everything so that our Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structure can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for self-preservation,” the letter said.