From Plymouth to Syracuse

God provides, even in lockdown

Since the introduction of the Genesis Mission here in our diocese, we have experienced an awakening to the movement of the Holy Spirit, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who would have thought that a lockdown would be so providential? It has allowed us to work with you through modern technology to continue the mission. We are so grateful for the accompaniment of Genesis Mission in Plymouth through those uncertain times. It was truly life-giving to remain faithful to God’s call to “Go and make disciples.”

Genesis Mission training is increasing. 38 people have been through the training, 50 are in training, and 18 are about to begin. The participants come from all walks of life. They represent the entire spectrum of the Catholic Church. The discussions have been lively!

Bringing our missionary identity to life

The diocesan Office of Evangelisation is using the Genesis Mission training in various areas of pastoral care. We began by training anyone who had attended the Genesis Mission presentation in February. Our next step was to interview all the people who had been through the training. The response was overwhelming. The participants gave the training a 9.3 out of 10!

Many were keen to launch Genesis Mission in their parishes. So we scheduled three leader trainings, which Genesis Mission facilitated for us via zoom. We now have 11 groups in progress, with another 5 in the wings. Our diocesan strategy is deliberate. We bring training to areas of pastoral reconfiguration so that the key decision-makers have a better sense of the missionary identity of the Catholic individual, and of the parish.

Breathing life into pastoral areas

We are working in one pastoral care area, in which a priest has been named as the pastor of four parishes. This pastor has a burning desire to create a vibrant, missional community. He feels the Genesis training is a key element in making this happen. He invited representatives from each of the four parishes to be part of Genesis Mission training. We held the initial training session, which the pastor attended. He remarked that while he had invested in formation for all the attendees, he had never heard them speak about their faith so boldly. He was so encouraged!

Another pastor was so impressed with the in-person presentation in February that he began his own Genesis Mission training several months ago. The experience was beyond his expectations!

He said that in all his years of priesthood, he has never found anything that will produce the results of Genesis Mission.

He is currently facilitating another group, and has empowered 3 of his parishioners to start their own Genesis Mission groups. All three have been trained as facilitators. In addition, his catechetical leader will be starting 3 groups just for catechists. Having been through the training herself, she saw the value in training catechists have faith conversations with parents.

Simply Genius

As a diocesan Director of Evangelization, I am impressed with the Genesis Mission for several reasons;

  • Firstly, it is the first training I have found that offers human formation along with the theological formation. It helps the learner to realize that a life of holiness and surrender to the Holy Spirit is essential for witness and proclamation.
  • Secondly, it provides practical tools that are gentle and respect the individual conscience and free will of the other.
  • Thirdly, it follows the question and answer dynamic stressed by recent Popes. By allowing us to enter into the human condition we are able to make faith relevant to the human experience.
  • Finally, it shifts the focus to what Jesus cared about: the salvation of souls. This is a refreshing change from our individualistic, consumer-driven culture, and often the culture of our parishes.

Genesis Mission training is an immersion process by which we learn to go out of ourselves in order to breathe Life into a culture of death, to shed light where there is darkness, and to bring healing where there is suffering. I cannot say enough about how this has impacted me personally, and how it is shaping our approach to ministry at the diocese.

The way forward

We find the content of Genesis Mission to be in line with what we are reading in the new Directory for Catechesis. The Directory confirms the maxims and key concepts of the Genesis Mission. The Genesis Method pyramid reflects our real life experiences, and gives us a tangible indication of the impact we are making in the life of an individual we encounter.

Having spent the last four years working intentionally to discover a way to better equip our parishes, I am overjoyed to have found a practical way to support the missionary efforts of the parishes we serve. We are indebted to Genesis Mission, and to the Diocese of Plymouth, for this amazing offering.

In Christ,
Mary Hallman Director of Evangelization Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse.