Father Anthony Chantry, the National Director of Missio in the UK, the Pope’s official charity for world mission, has explained his life as a missionary, also giving some valuable insight into what Africa’s biggest slum, in Kibera, Kenya, is like.
Speaking to the bishops’ conference in a podcast, Father Chantry said: “I’ve been in a hundred slums throughout the world and they’re all the same, they all follow the same pattern. “
Listen to our interview with Fr Anthony Chantry, Director of Missio.
“There are people who, because of the economic situation, perhaps the social situation, are confined to very densely populated areas without facilities. By that I mean no electricity, no water, no communications, no drainage, no sewage, etc., in most places most of the time.
“And yet in those places that I have been and worked, the people generally never lose hope. There is always a sense that actually God is with them, that God is accompanying them, perhaps for some feeling that God is also suffering with them.
“And so it is that our story that we present for World Mission Sunday really encapsulates all of that.”
Speaking about a nun called Sister Mary, who lives in Kibera, Father Chantry described what motivated her to “accompany people”.
He said: “Sister Mary, lives in Kibera with the people, which is immensely difficult for her and her fellow sisters because they will share the same deprivations as the people they are serving.
“So her whole philosophy, if you like, her whole spirituality, actually is to accompany people, to be with them, to share in their suffering as far as they can, and to listen.
“An enormously important part of mission is to listen, to listen to where people are, to listen to their culture, to listen to their innate spirituality. Because I have not met anyone in Kenya yet who does not believe in God, they may not believe in the God I do, but that’s another question.”
Father Chantry also had some advice for the ongoing synod in Rome, explaining how the experiences of missionaries can help inform the Church’s role in society in the 21st Century.
He said: “I think that missionaries, or those who have devoted their lives to mission at the synod, will encourage people to listen if they’re worth their salt. They have been listening to people they’ve served, so they understand what that’s about and how difficult that is.
“If I were there, I would say be courageous. Be courageous. Risk, calculated risk. Oh, yes. But try to find ways in which we can do what we are called to do, and that is the mission to proclaim Christ to the world. Try new ways, try to be inclusive, and try to be reaching out more to others in different ways.
“Try to recognise the presence of Christ, working in all sorts of different ways as his kingdom, his, not ours, his kingdom comes to cooperate with that whole process of God redeeming the world.”
Podcast: Wisdom from Encounter
Father Anthony Chantry joins us for this Catholic News podcast to discuss World Mission Sunday. Celebrated on the penultimate Sunday of October, it’s a chance to support missionaries and the churches, hospitals and schools where they do the Lord’s work, in countries where the Church is new, young or poor.
World Mission Sunday
World Mission Sunday – the one day in the year when the entire global Church comes together in support of mission – will happen on 22 October 2023.
Papal Message: World Mission Sunday
In his message for World Mission Sunday, Pope Francis is inspired by the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.
Setting hearts ablaze in Kenya
Kibera, Kenya, is the biggest urban slum in Africa. It’s rife with all the problems poverty brings – malnourishment; addiction; abuse. But missionary Sister Mary meets the challenges of life in Kibera with faith and friendship.
Missio have produced everything you need to take part in this global celebration of mission in your parish.