Take the October Challenge: Write a Personal Mission Statement By Glenmary Father Jerry Dorn

Siena_largeA recent trend in the self-help/personal development field is to have seminar participants write a personal mission statement. Many of you have probably been part of efforts—at work, at church, in your community—to capture in a few sentences the “mission” of your group: who you are, what you do—and why! Such an exercise—while often a struggle— can certainly help clarify the purpose of an organization. If the process is successful, the resulting mission statement reveals what is unique about a group and its work. But as I think about personal mission statements, I wonder: How different can the personal mission statements of individual Catholic Christians be? Isn't the main clause of everyone's statement already pretty well-crafted by the fact of our baptism? Our mission is to be in mission, for we are all called to be missionary. The People of God have been called into mission ever since the first disciples heard these words from Jesus himself: “Come, follow me.” The annual observance of October as mission month provides an opportunity for each of us to examine just how well we are responding to that personal call to be in mission today.Sometimes it seems that Catholics in the United States, with so many material resources at their disposal, put Jesus' call to mission aside while pursuing personal and career goals. They choose not to listen too closely to Jesus' insistence that to save your own life, you must first lose it. Responding to Jesus' call does not have to mean becoming a professional missionary—although we could certainly use some more of these both here at home and overseas. It does mean, however, growing into one's baptismal call to become a sacrament of God's love for others. Sitting down and writing a personal mission statement, and reviewing it each October, could be a good way to see if you are putting that baptismal call at the center of your life. Let me offer part of Glenmary's mission statement as a way to get you started: “Alive with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Glenmary Home Missioners go out to rural and small-town USA, where the Catholic Church is not yet effectively present, proclaiming and witnessing to the Good News of Jesus Christ and the power of God's love, mercy and justice transforming the world!” Take the first phrase, “Alive with the fire of the Holy Spirit,” and then fill in your name and the specific locations/circumstances in which you live and work each day. End with the phrase which begins “witnessing to the Good News of Jesus Christ….” Does it fit you? Why or why not? Does this exercise help you get greater clarity about the role of mission in your life?Most Catholics will never leave home and family in order to proclaim and witness God's love in the faraway places where professional missionaries serve. Most Catholics will live out mission in the ordinary circumstances of daily life, trying to be a light in the midst of darkness. Figuring out how to proclaim—and be—Good News is a challenge for each of us. Mission month is a good opportunity to spend a little extra time reflecting on how we are doing as missionaries right now in 2002. God bless! Father Jerry Dorn is the president of Glenmary Home Missioners. Photo Caption: These students from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich., are among over 500 who visit the Glenmary Farm in Eastern Kentucky each year for a life-changing plunge into mission.

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