Monday, May 16, 2011
Why Participate in the Missionary Cooperation Plan?
Every summer dioceses across the country participate in the Missionary Cooperation Plan (MCP). This is a program mandated from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and specifically the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. This is not an “optional extra” in parish life. It is our Catholic way of participating in the missionary outreach of the Church.
Some parishes say that they do not want a missionary and will just send us a collection. The collection is not the primary purpose of the MCP; it is raising awareness among parishioners about the extent of the Church’s missionary endeavors. Hearing the stories of missionaries helps to concretize life in other parts of the world and what the Church does to proclaim Christ to the world.
Other parishes say they do not need to have a missionary come to their parish because they do twinning with a parish or a diocese in another country. Global Solidarity with dioceses or organizations in other parts of the world is wonderful because relationships of mutuality can develop. Supporting a diocese or parish in one country helps people to learn about that country. What about mission in other areas of the world? Missionaries coming to do mission appeals help to widen the circle of our understanding of mission.
Still other parishes, staffed by a particular religious congregation will not participate in the MCP because they only want someone from their congregation. Or a parishioner has a friend who is a missionary so they only want them to speak at the parish. This practice limits what people can learn about mission to a particular place and mission project because they come from one congregation or organization. So much more is being done by many mission groups that it would be a shame to limit what we can learn about the scope of the Church’s mission.
The Missionary Cooperation Plan, like the Prophet Isaiah, urges us to: “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes” (54:2). We are challenged to open up to people of other places, languages and cultures. The encounter promises to be enriching for our parishes.
Missionaries come to the Archdiocese of Chicago every summer. Make sure your parish does not miss out on this opportunity to encounter the missionary spirit as lived out in in another place and another culture.