On Saturday 21st April, for an event sponsored by St John the Evangelist Bath, over 250 people came to the Apex Hotel for the day to hear Michelle Moran speak; including members of Bath Catholic Deanery parishes, other local faith communities and Clifton parishes from Stroud, Swindon, Bristol and South Somerset.
In Michelle’s keynote address “Come Follow Me”; she referred to Bishop Declan’s three year plan, saying that so many things in life can rob us of hope, but the Bishop prophesies A Future Full of Hope . We have gathered here today in a hotel and Canon David Ryan trusted there would be enough people to pay the bills. Doing things differently shakes us up! We are doing something new and different! Encountering each other in a new way for the purposes of the Gospel. God is doing this.
She referred to Bishop Declan’s motif of the anchor saying what a wonderful image this is for us. It does not promise us protection from difficulties. We remain free, but it gives us assurance that the Lord is with us. She applauded the Bishop for beginning with Year of Mission. So often people want to “get ready” for Mission. But the reality is, we will never be ready. The call is to be Mission now, in this place. Mission is about being transformed. God is at work in the world; all we are called to be is a co-worker. What this depends on is not our skills but how open to the Lord we are. If we pray “Come Holy Spirit!” our life will be transformed. She described episodes of encounter with Jesus in the Gospels. The tax collectors, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well. The woman had to put down her jar. We can ask “What do I need to leave behind?” “What is our excess baggage as a Faith community?”
For a group exercise she referred to Cardinal Martini of Milan who said if we want to find a description of evangelisation to focus on three areas. 1) Is the Gospel being celebrated? 2) Is there witness and proclamation? And 3) Is there service given to humanity? She asked us to consider how this happening now in our communities and what more could be done.
In the afternoon during “God’s Holy People” she said that this refers to all of us. It is not about “who” we are but “whose” we are. It is weak people who were chosen to get the Church off the ground. This is very reassuring for us. After Pentecost, the disciples were no more qualified to do their work, but they had the Holy Spirit now. She referred to Pope Francis new exhortation On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World . Holiness is for everyone. We each live the path to holiness in our own way; in the ordinariness and the circumstances of our everyday life. Pope Francis told her in a private meeting that we are in a special time of the Holy Spirit. A quickening of the Holy Spirit. She spoke about the two moves of the Holy Spirit. The “CENTRIPETAL” that draws us more into God- through prayer, quiet reflection, meditation and Scripture. And the “CENTRIFUGAL” – the force that send us out into the streets, our neighbourhood and workplace to witness and be a light of the world.
This is what it means to be “God’s Holy People”. It is what Pope Francis meant when he says that life does not HAVE a Mission but IS a Mission. We can say “I am a Mission!”
Michell Moran is a founder of the Sion Community and has been a member of the Pontifical Council for Laity for 11 years based at the Vatican. Pope Francis has asked her to work on establishing new structures for Mission in the Church.