To commemorate the close of the first Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Mission Congress last Sunday, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu thanked all the Bishops of the AEC, clergy and participants, but “first and foremost” God the Father, the Blessed Trinity for granting them “this wonderful day”.
“We say thank you; we love you,” the Nuncio said, with special mention of Archbishop Jason Gordon, visiting bishops from French-speaking territories and Fr Tadeusz ‘Ted’ Nowak, representative from the Vatican. Similar sentiments were also offered for Pope Francis.
“This has been wonderful,” he said, to applause from those gathered at the Centre of Excellence. He observed that when Pope Francis took up office in 2013, one of the first things he did was convoke an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.
The Nuncio highlighted that when Fr Nowak presided at the morning Mass on Saturday (September 21), he preached a “wonderful homily” on Matthew 9:13, the eyes of mercy.
It is this theme of mercy that was emphasised throughout the Mission Congress: “…our Archbishop preaching again this morning has called us again to mercy; Pope Francis’ Jubilee of Mercy; the representative for Cardinal Filoni preaching on mercy….” Cardinal Fernando Filoni is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples under which the AEC falls.
“So, what is the message we are taking home at the end of this missionary congress?” Responding to his own question, Archbishop Nwachukwu answered: mercy. He added “To become missionaries of Christ’s mercy, to become ambassadors of Christ’s mercy.”
The Archbishop then invited the Archdiocese’s Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) Director Deborah De Rosia on stage.
“We are going to try something; If I fail don’t laugh at me,” he joked with the congregation. Archbishop Nwachukwu then led an impromptu song: ‘I’m in Christ Jesus and I’m new.’
These words, he said, was the message he hoped to give to Fr Nowak to take back to the Vatican: We are baptised and we are new.