Working in several professions and using them in the service of the word of God and of Christ, this undoubtedly is a very important aspect of my missionary life.
Of course, I have to be competent in areas that are specific to the life of a priest, to have the ability to guide a Christian community and to make it grow in Christ. I have to know how to welcome someone, to listen to them, to say the right – i.e. evangelical – word, with great humility. The administration of the sacraments in the name of Christ requires technical skills similar to those of other professions: knowing how to speak in public, knowing how to gather one’s thoughts in order to express them intelligibly, understanding the liturgy in order to be able to uplift and enlighten the community. In short, I am describing my work as a parish priest in terms of the skills required.
What about the missionary component? Even if my responsibilities as a parish priest also include guiding a congregation in the direction of missionary activity, I cannot be satisfied with ‘just’ being a priest. However, I could be satisfied by exercising this profession in a language which is not mine, in this case Japanese, and this fact alone would justify my calling myself a missionary. But the truth is it’s more of a handicap. Whatever anyone might say, I will be learning Japanese all my life and am much more comfortable speaking in French. So, I am a missionary to the extent that I have the skills to get out of the Church to meet people who would not come to the Church by themselves. This is all the more true during a health crisis. So I started learning about the Internet with the aim of sending the word of God into people’s pockets. I acquired skills as a web developer in order to make it a profession that worked in the service of evangelism.
I have built several websites, the most iconic one providing a biblical journey through the liturgy and which, among other things, automatically distributes the word of God for each day by email. But I also created one for the diocese of Sapporo, as well as for MEP in Japan – not to mention the Sunday Masses broadcast on YouTube every week or even my own blog.
In summary, all the skills that one can learn are welcome in the life of a missionary priest, and they should certainly not be limited to ecclesiastical skills.
Fr François-Xavier Haure, MEP