Long live the mission!

The “Put out into the deep”[1] pronounced by the Incarnate Word on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret and whose echo echoes mystically ever since, has been received throughout the centuries by countless souls who, taking seriously the demands of the Gospel, are ready to die, like the grain of wheat, to see Christ in all souls and in all things[2]. Among them, we have the joy and privilege of wanting to be counted among the members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word who today find ourselves preaching the Gospel spread throughout the continents and in many places called “emblematic destinations”.

What are flagship destinations?

They are outposts, missions or mission destinations that are generally very difficult. They are those places where nobody wants to go[3], either because of the poverty of the place, because of the danger, or because of religious persecution, or because it is foreseen that in the short or medium term, there will be little fruit – we refer to fruits visible to the missionary and to the eyes of the world, because there is always much fruit, beginning with the holiness of the missionaries themselves. All these places “represent a tinge of honor for our little Religious Family, because they are mission stations where perhaps the missionaries will not see abundant fruits of their work, where vocations will probably not come from and where, perhaps, if we had not agreed to go, no one would have wanted to go because of the difficulties” [4].

For us, this is not simply a way of saying, but a demand clearly expressed in our own right: “There is no place where there is a soul that is forbidden to the missionary. To the humblest huts, to the highest altitudes, to the most rugged ravines, where there are fewer people, where less fruit is expected, where the people are more stubborn, where there are more difficulties… there the missionary must go with his staff, in his car, by plane, on foot or on horseback, by sulky or by boat… because that is his vocation and that is where obedience sends him” [5]. Such availability for the mission was reaffirmed by two General Chapters in 2007 and 2016, where it was decided to prioritize this type of mission, precisely because “the choice of outposts in the mission”, that is, “what we have come to call ’emblematic destinations'” is a non-negotiable adjunct of the charism of the Institute[6].

St. John Paul II already said: “The Church today does not need civil servants, administrators or businessmen, but above all ‘friends of Christ’ who know how to manifest love in an attitude of altruistic service that excludes no one”[7].

So it is that our missionaries should not be intimidated by difficulties, nor “frightened by doubts, misunderstandings, rejections, persecutions”[8]; and without being discouraged by the prognosis of scarce fruit or by the scarcity of means, today they carry on splendid missionary work in Syria, in the Solomon Islands, in Egypt, in Papua New Guinea, in Iraq, in the Gaza Strip, in Tajikistan, in Iceland, in Guyana, in the jungles of Peru, in Tanzania, in Taiwan, in Russia and many other “outposts”, knowing that their efforts and sufferings will not be in vain; On the contrary, they constitute the leaven that will germinate in the hearts of other apostles the desire to consecrate themselves to the noble cause of the Gospel, and in many souls the life of grace, even if they do not see it directly.

Because an authentic missionary of the Incarnate Word knows that he is chosen, taken from among men[9] for the most honorable mission of “being an instrument of salvation”. Because he is convinced that “he does not work for ephemeral or passing things, but ‘for the most divine of divine works,'[10] which is the eternal salvation of souls”[11] and with the true priestly zeal he is ever more enthusiastic about walking the royal way of the cross, with a lively desire that He reigns [12]. 12] Because in the depths of his soul, he personally feels the divine groaning of our Lord addressed to him: the workers are few[13] and he cannot avoid the sublime “mission of bringing the Gospel to all those – and they are millions of men and women – who do not yet know Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. 14] Because he knows that his vocation demands of him an unlimited gift of strength and time[15] and in imitation of Christ he wants to lose his life in order to save and conquer it to the full[16]. In short, because it is not possible to be ‘of the Incarnate Word’ and at the same time be “elusive to the missionary adventure”, our task is and will always be to seek emblematic destinies.

For we know that even when we spend our lives in these missionary outposts of the Church and are often ignored, forgotten or persecuted, we can count on the incomparable help and maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin who “consecrated herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son”[17]. 17] She is the one who inspires and sustains our efforts “even in the most difficult situations and under the most adverse conditions”.

“An authentic missionary of the Incarnate Word knows himself to be chosen, taken from among men for the most honorable mission of “being an instrument of salvation” (…).


[1] Lk 5:4.

[2] Cf. Directory of Missions Ad Gentes, 1; op. cit. Directory of Spirituality, 216.

[3] Cf. Directory of Spirituality, 86.

[4] John Paul the Great, ch. 30: “The Pope and Our Own Right”, IVE Press, New York 2011, p. 535. The text is commenting on what the Chapter Fathers discerned as elements of the charism of the Institute in the General Chapter of 2007.

[5] Directory of Popular Missions, 19.

[6] Cf. Notes of the V General Chapter of the Institute (Segni, Italy, 2007) n. 57-58 and Notes of the VII General Chapter of the Institute (Segni, Italy, 2007) n. 57-58. 57-58 and Notes of the VII General Chapter of the Institute (Montefiascone, Italy, 2016) n. 59, 77-78, 81.

[7] St. John Paul II, To seminarians and novices in Budapest (19/08/1991).

[8] Directory of Missions Ad Gentes, 147; op. cit. Redemptoris Missio, 66.

[9] Heb 5:1.

[10] Pseudo-Dionysius, quoted by St. Alphonsus, Selva de materias predicables, IX, 1.

[11] Directory of Spirituality, 321.

[12] Cf. Directory of Spirituality, 225; op. cit. 1 Cor 15:25.

[13] Mt 9:37.

[14] Directory of Missions Ad Gentes, 53; op. cit. Christifideles Laici, 35.

[15] Cf. Directory of Missions Ad Gentes, 146.

[16] Cf. St. John Paul II, To Priests, Religious and Laity Committed in Mantua (June 22, 1991).

[17] Lumen Gentium, 56.

[18] Constitutions, 30.