A lived and living legacy

Editorial by Kathy Gillis

We begin this New Year with an issue about the legacy of Scarboro Missions. To some people, legacy refers to dying and death, but I think legacy speaks of life and living, about our way of life, what we do, how we act, how we define and live our charism, how we use our gifts. It is about who we are, what we believe in and value. Our legacy includes what came before and what comes after. It is about learning from the past and from those who have gone before us. And it’s about the future, about devoting our lives to the things that matter, that make for peace. 

In 2018 Scarboro will celebrate its 100th anniversary. It would be impossible to cover the entire depth and breadth of Scarboro’s legacy thus far and the contributions of all who have been part of that journey. I apologize that we do not have a story on every mission, particularly Malawi and Thailand, two of Scarboro’s newer missions opened in the mid-1990s on the initiative of lay members. This edition touches on just a few of the highlights of Scarboro’s ongoing legacy. 

When Scarboro Missions was first founded, its focus was on conversion. However, the Church’s understanding of mission has changed. “If you look at the new paradigm of mission,” says Fr. Jack Lynch, “the focal point is not the Church but the Reign of God. The Church is the servant, not the finality of mission.”

For Fr. Jack, Scarboro’s mission today “is to be women and men of faith and hope who manifest our gratitude for God’s gift in our loving relationships with everyone. That is the challenge, to continue the mission as disciples of Jesus in the historical context of today.”

“We are messengers of reconciliation, we are bridges and hopefully bridge-builders among the different cultures and religions of the world,” says Fr. Dave Warren.

Guided by the words of Jesus, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” Fr. Ron MacDonell says, “My scriptural image is that of being rooted and connected to Jesus and to whatever work that God sends us, whatever work that we can accomplish in eradicating poverty and in being with the poor, in changing the world, in helping to bring about the Reign of God.”

I am proud to be part of a relatively small stretch of Scarboro’s legacy. When I started working here in 1988 I remember how much it meant to be able to combine faith and work so explicitly. These years have been a time of learning and profound transformation for me. Immersed in a community of priest and lay missioners giving first hand accounts of walking with the poor, among peoples of different lands and cultures, opened my eyes to the world. I discovered that I had not really understood the message of the Gospel and knew nothing of the social teachings of the Church. I am grateful to Scarboro Missions for this continued learning and for inviting me to participate in the building of the Reign of God. Their living legacy is steeped in compassion and love, justice and solidarity, openness and hospitality. May this living legacy inspire them as they continue their journey.∞