Report on the USCMA Congress 2011
by Columban Sister Virgie Mozo
The USCMA celebrated the thirty years of Passion for God’s mission on the weekend of 28-30 October 2011 in Miami, Florida. More than 200 participants from different communities and organizations attended the meeting. The participants remembered and celebrated the commitment of the US missionaries in responding to God’s call to mission across the globe. During the meeting the participants shared stories about the work of missionaries who have gone before us. Some also shared their own stories. We also remembered and celebrated the people with whom we journey in our missionary endeavors, especially those who are our partners in mission.
Since its beginning the USCMA gatherings have provided an opportunity for missionaries from across the country and around the world to come together for the purpose of analyzing developments in the world and reflecting on their implications for the mission of Jesus in the world. It has evolved into a dynamic, missionary organization that fosters networking, resources sharing, and dialogue about the various dimensions of Mission in today’s world.
In the past decade the demographic make up of the US Catholic Church has changed dramatically. This reflects the inflow of migrants from Central and Latin America, the Philippines, Vietnam and other Asian countries. There is also a growing number of lay people participating in mission activities. Technological advances, especially in the area of communications, have also changed the face of mission. People are now using Facebook, Twitter, Internet Blogs and You tube to promote the Mission of God in the world.
There were many enriching moments at the three day conference. We had three keynote speakers:
The final speaker was Miguel Diaz the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. (He is the first Hispanic to represent the United States at the Vatican and he is also a theologian). He had a fishing theme encouraging us to “Push out into the deep.”
After every session we gathered in small groups to discuss the input and reflect on its relevance. Participants were pre-assigned to particular groups but we also had an opportunity to hear what other groups had to say in the Dialogue Sessions.
We marked significant moments of the 30-year life of the USCMA on both Friday and Saturday nights. On Friday evening we remembered and acknowledged the contribution of past conferences from 1982 right through to 2011. The 2011 award was presented to Amor en Accion (a missionary community of the Archdiocese of Miami, formed in 1976 by a group of young immigrants), in recognition for their commitment to mission and global solidarity.
On Saturday, we went to Notre Dame d’Haiti, a Haitian community for our Evening Mass. The celebrant was Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Miami. During the Mass he spoke in English, Creole and Spanish. After the liturgy, we celebrated with the Haitian Community. There was a wonderful variety of good food from different countries and cultures including delicious rice cakes which were prepared by the Filipino Community!!! We were also entertained with dances from the Latino and Asians Communities.
On our last day, four resolutions were passed during the Business Meeting:
1. To support an end to impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The USCMA joins the African Faith and Justice Network in its commitment to put an end to impunity in Congo and to promote justice in Congo and the Great Lakes Region in general by supporting the establishment of specialized court as recommended by the UN mapping exercise.
Celebrating 30 years of the USCMA with
3 Keynote speakers
and 4 Resolutions
and much more in between
Rev. Steve Bevans, SVD who spoke on Blessings and Challenges of Communion and Missionary Discipleship,
Sr. Madge Karecki, SSJ-TOSF who addressed the topic – Let down the nets for a catch.
2. Against partisan politics.
The USCMA called forth the legislative branches of Federal and State governments to seek true and effective economic policies which are needed to recover the economic and social strength which once marked US society.
3. Environment and Global Warming. Using the lens of the Sacred Scripture, the members of USCMA call for new laws from the US Legislature to protect the environment and to join other nations and International organizations such as the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in combating Global Warming. The USCMA also calls for concerted action on other environmental problems such as deforestation and the destruction of marine ecosystems.
4. Against trafficking of human beings.
As members of USCMA, in association with the Franciscan Federation and the Franciscan Action Network, the organiz- ation upholds the inherent dignity of each human person in the tradition of St.Francis and St Clare of Assisi. It denounces all forms of human trafficking as criminal acts that violate basic human rights and exploit innocent people. We pledged to work for the elimination of human trafficking and its causes: