Fr. François du Penhoat, the provincial superior of the Lyon province of the Society of African Missions (SMA), has shared his reflections on the future of SMA communities in France in a letter addressed to the province members and all those engaged in the Mission. Through his words, he highlights the crucial importance of SMA communities in the contemporary missionary landscape.
In this letter dated February 9, 2024, Fr. François du Penhoat discusses the necessity for SMA communities to be vibrant signs of the Kingdom, emphasizing that despite the praise received, there is still a long journey ahead. He underscores the close relationship between community life and the Mission, reminding that holiness is the foundation of all missionary action.
The evolution of missionary practices in France is also addressed, with the emergence of new evangelizing trends focusing on grassroots approaches and the use of modern communication tools. However, Fr. du Penhoat warns against forgetting the essentials: the Mission takes root in holiness and simplicity of life.
SMA communities, whether parish teams or large communities, embody missionary diversity in various urban or rural contexts. Their commitment is praised, as are the challenges they face. From Montferrier to Rezé, through Les Cartières and Menton, each community reflects the richness and complexity of the mission in France.
Engagement in the local Church is a vital aspect of SMA community life in France. Members are called to respond to the emerging needs of dioceses while preserving their own missionary identity. Harmony and collaboration with ecclesiastical authorities are encouraged to best serve the cause of the Gospel.
At the heart of each SMA community lies liturgy, a source of communion and strength for the mission. Hospitality, cultural diversity, communication, and the integration of new members are values and practices that nurture community life and foster everyone’s development.
By cultivating a culture of synodality, SMA members can face the challenges of evangelization with courage and determination, transforming mountains of indifference into vibrant testimonies of Christ’s presence.
In conclusion, Fr. François du Penhoat expresses his gratitude to all those who contribute to the vitality of SMA communities in France. He calls on everyone to fully engage in community life, as it holds the key to evangelization and spiritual growth.