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Vicariate of Asia-Oceania: next steps

Portrait Benoit Bigard 2018
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As you know, the statutes of the Vicariate of Asia-Oceania have just been adopted in General Council Plenary. This is an important step that has just been taken for the construction of the future Vicariate. The implementation of this newsletter is also an important step. What more do we need to do now?

What further step to join the Vicariate?

It is legitimate that facing the unknown of a new structure, facing years of parallel progress, facing the diversity of languages and cultures, a certain apprehension exists. But I would like to go back to a fundamental element of our Christian life and our Assumptionist life: 

“It pleased God to make all the fullness and reconciliation of Jesus Christ live by him and for him, on earth and in heaven, having made peace by the blood of his cross. And you who formerly were strangers, whose bad deeds showed deep hostility, now God has reconciled you to the perishable body of his Son, by his death, to make you appear holy, irreproachable, unassailable. But you must, by faith, stand strong and firm, without allowing yourself to be deported out of the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became the minister.” (Col 1,20-23) 

The purpose of the coming of Christ on our Earth is therefore to reconcile everything in him: human beings between them; human beings with the whole Creation; human beings with God. And it is the fundamental role of the Church to continue this work of reconciliation, of communion, of unity beyond all that separates us. The divisor is the Devil (that’s the meaning of the word diabolos), the reunion is the Christ…

So obviously the forces of division, hate, separation, withdrawal are strong and present in each of us and in all our societies, it is our natural slope. On the contrary, wanting to build unity, communion, reconciliation, in short the Kingdom of God, is not the easiest slope. It asks us to allow ourselves to be traversed by the Grace so that Christ himself is our strength of communion and unity and allows us to go up the opposite slope of our natural tendencies. At our level, the constitution of the Vicariate of Asia-Oceania is a small stone in the service of this fundamental mission entrusted by Christ to the Church. Let’s ask ourselves: are we thirsty for unity? What more can we do internally to join our whole being in this communion of our communities from Asia-Oceania?

What more to share our passions and fraternity?

This newsletter will need the contribution of all. It will require efforts: efforts to publish what makes us live, efforts to translate it into other languages, efforts to go and read what the brothers of other countries want to share with us. 

Yesterday, during a conference at the Catholic Institute of Paris, one of the speakers noted one of the difficulties of social networks like Facebook or YouTube. You know that there are algorithms that aim to make us read essentially the articles or videos that interest us. And this has a perverse effect because Facebook relies on the network of our friends and friends of our friends, and on the type of articles we like to read so that, little by little, we find ourselves only between us, with our friends, only with the same subjects and at the limit of the sectarian phenomenon. So yes, we can stay in touch only with our “friends”, with people who speak the same language as us and who have the same ideas as us, but it has nothing to do with the Mission of the Church, which consists in proclaiming the Gospel and building the brotherhood of the Kingdom of God beyond any frontier.

Let us all wonder: what more can I do to get out of my usual networks, to share my passions, to learn about what is happening beyond my own country? According to my gifts and my talents, what will be my contribution to this newsletter?

What further step should we take to take root in the culture of the Gospel?

Finally, rest assured, the communion brought to us by Christ is not a standardization. It is a communion in difference that allows everyone to be more himself in his identity, in his culture, in his talents. It certainly requires rooting in one’s culture, but it requires also a critical step backwards. It is when one is comfortable with one’s own roots that one can easily go to meet the other and let oneself be jostled. Without fear of losing its specificities. What further step should we then take to appropriate our own culture without remaining on superficial aspects and agreeing to let it be challenged by the values of the Gospel?

Yes the vicariate is coming, but what further step will we take?

What further step to join the Vicariate?

What further step to share our passions and fraternity?

What further step to take root into the culture of the Gospel? 

Benoît Bigard, Provincial of Europe

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