VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A globalized world racked by a “crisis of identity” needs contemplative missionaries, John Paul II says in a message to Mariannhill Missionaries on the occasion of their general chapter.
In the message published today by the Vatican Press Office, the Pope comments on the theme of the meeting, “Revisiting Our Identity and Spirituality as a New Era Dawns,” and states that the real challenge for the missionary is holiness.
John Paul II said the Mariannhill Missionaries must proclaim the Gospel in “an increasingly globalized world which in many ways is troubled by a crisis of identity and by ambiguous thinking.”
“In the new era that is unfolding, you must be true missionaries and true saints, for holiness is at the very heart of your vocation,” the Pope said, recalling the message left by Abbot Franz Pfanner, founder of this missionary family.
“In fidelity to the Benedictine-Trappist tradition on which your consecrated life is founded, your missionary apostolate will flourish and produce fruit to the degree that it is firmly rooted in the tenet ‘Ora et Labora,'” the Pontiff stressed.
This principle, he explained, guarantees “the equilibrium of the contemplative missionary, the witness who remains immersed in prayer even while grappling with his urgent active commitment.”
“In a world where human drama is too often marked by poverty, division and violence, following Christ demands that consecrated persons respond courageously to the Spirit’s call to a continual conversion, in order to give new vigor to the prophetic dimension of their vocation,” the papal message concludes.
The general chapter of the Mariannhill Missionaries has elected a new superior general and board of councilors. The new superior is German-born Father Dieter Gahlen, 54, who has worked in South Africa.
The general councilors are Father Siegfried Mandla Jwara born in 1957 in Braemar, South Africa, until now provincial superior; Brother Thomas Fischer, born in 1962 in Oberwinden, Germany, who has been on mission in Zimbabwe and is the first lay brother to be elected a member of the general government; Father David Fernandez, born 1948 in Prioro, Spain, who is a missionary in Zimbabwe; and Father Peter Grand, elected vicar general. He was born in 1942 in Susten, Switzerland, and has worked in South Africa and in Zambia.
The Mariannhill Missionaries were founded in 1882 as a religious congregation of Mariannhill Trappist Monastery in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. Today the missionaries number 384 priests and brothers. They have communities in Europe, North America, Africa and Papua New Guinea.