Next year’s (2017) Filipino Christian Communities in Sweden General Assembly will be the 9th FCC Assembly spearheaded by the Filipino Mission in Sweden. The first such assembly was held August 2009 at the St. Nikolai Parish in Linköping. During that event, a decision was made by those who participated that this activity would be made annual. So a raffle was done and The Filipino Christian Community in Helsingborg was chosen as the host community for the Second General Aassembly (2010). This was respectively followed by Stockholm (2011), and Malmö (2012), Göteborg (2013), Trollhättan-Vänersborg (2014), Örebro (2015), Gävle (2016).
We belong to the Congregation of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ or the “Passionists”. This religious congregation has a long and proud history of sending missionaries to faraway lands. We imbibed the missionary spirit of our founder, St. Paul of the Cross, who in his lifetime had long been dreaming of evangelizing Northern Europe, North America and even Asia.
Our biggest challenge has come from Western Europe and North America, the places where our congregation first took its missions. The toughest missionary territory in the world today is secular culture characterized by individualism and materialism. It is in these territories that our churches are emptying and losing, our seminaries and religious houses no longer having a regular flow of new life, and our preaching often ineffective.
A pilot project called ‘Restructuring’ was launched by us the Passionists, to rekindle the fire we previously used. By going to distant lands, we deliberately reenter the secular culture as missionaries wanting to bring those who were scattered back to the sheepfold of Christ, our One Shepherd. Two priests were at first chosen and sent to this mission in Sweden. And now, we are four. Oftentimes, a given project, despite its goodness and effort, would also be driven by a particular ecclesiology and ethos making certain exclusivity in its embrace, a distinct character of the Filipino Christian community here in Sweden. The appeal was to the mainstream and the invitation was for persons to be solid as one at home in the Catholic church.
The Filipino Christian Community in Sweden through the leadership of us four Passionist priests and the sponsorship of the Catholic community in Gothenburg launch the theme “That All May Be One” as a response to the call of our Congregation in particular and of the Catholic Church in general. We can ask ourselves why we are together in one missionary team with one missionary project!
Giving witness to Christ today requires that we build communities wide enough to hold our differences. What we need is not a new technique, but a new sanctity; not a cooler projection, but a more inclusive embrace; not some updating of the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world, but a more courageous radiation of its wide compassion; not some new secret that catches peoples’ curiosity, but a way of following Christ that can hold more of the tensions of our world in proper balance so that everyone, irrespective of temperament and ideology, will find themselves better understood and embraced by what we hold most dear. We have to remove bickering and division among us. Let us be united as One in Faith and One in Trust to God, our Father, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and in the Holy Spirit, our Guide.