Many others wanted to come but logistics were made difficult for them because of last minute scheduling due to the delay of the international meeting in Rome this year. So, this was our first national meeting, but in future we voted to include the few Missionaries of Mercy that there are in Canada.
Just some random thoughts, not in any particular order:
This was a get-together that was most encouraging, most inspiring. The priests were wonderful. Honestly, I learned a great deal about the desires of Pope Francis for the Missionaries of Mercy. In presenting the thoughts of our break-away session group to the gathering at large, I was able to phrase things in such a way about the desire of Pope Francis that quite the round of applause was made in agreement. This was most heartening.
Also, I was able to make and renew friendships. This was much different than the international meeting, which has its own character and purpose, what with being ad limina Apostolorum, but this national meeting was much more personal, much more – how to say? – allowing much greater freedom of expression. Those who made presentations were most animated, passionate, highly expert in the fields in which they have dedicated themselves to be Papal Missionaries of Mercy.
There was, in fact, some indications of the desire to add the appellation Papal to the title “Missionaries of Mercy.” Indeed, our local Vicar Forane in this Diocese, heavily into his Canon Law studies, not a Missionary of Mercy, says that the closest thing in Canon Law that might describe our place in the Church is Papal Legate. This would have to do with the special faculties for absolution. However, there were some who were into international aspects of going out into the peripheries which caught my attention, having me immediately think of analogies for other types of ministry much needed in the Church and which would benefit from this Papal freedom to go out to those in need more easily. I will attempt to follow up on this bit of thinking outside the box, something I think Pope Francis would not only allow but encourage.
There was time for networking. One priest in particular who is well known to and highly respected by Father Gordon MacRae let me know some of the finer points of international law, speaking with the highest authority. A revelation. He was able to answer questions which I’ve had for very many years. Great!
I cannot emphasize enough that I was entirely surprised by joy, by truth, by a deeper introduction to the very Heart of our Lord by the Bishop from the New Evangelization. He made many interventions, took down our suggestions – one of which, from yours truly, he will provide to the Holy Father in a few days from now (though he wants me to provide my suggestion also in written form that he might send this along in different ways (also useful in the Holy See, he said). He also provided a conference (rather technical, as might be expected) and then a more at ease homily (which I am most happy to say was surely the best homily that I have heard, by far, without comparison, on the new evangelization, using the example of Saint Marianne of Molokai (January 23, 1838 – August 9, 1918), the great friend of Saint Damian the Leper. This homily was so stunningly beautiful, simple, profound, far reaching, spiritual, that is, pointing to the Lord Jesus through one of Jesus’ saints, that I rejoiced in that… [well, you get the point…]
We all very much hoped that we would have another such encounter, perhaps in the year following the international get together planned now for 2021 in the Vatican.
There are certain presentations – captured on video – that I think would be great for the Church at large to hear, but they were most personal, and it just wouldn’t be right for me to share them.
In sum, I think these days were very good for me, healing, really. So, very happy.