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Visiting speaker says God already present in mission territories

A former PNG Divine Word Missionary will tell a Melbourne conference tomorrow that the missionary interacting with people in mission countries increasingly respects that God is "already present in their world in a profound and vibrant way".

Fr Roger Schroeder is Associate Professor of Cross-Cultural Ministry at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Illinois. His first missionary experience was in the East Sepik region of Papua New Guinea in the 1970s, shortly after the country gained its independence.

He is the keynote speaker for the second conference of the Australian Mission Network. The AMN is an initiative of the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI), the national body representing 192 religious congregations in Australia.

"To enter into someone else's garden is to allow the other person or people to show the missionary around their world," said Fr Schroeder.

"How local people are dealing with the post-colonial situation, how indigenous people previously received the Christian message, and communities' aspirations for self-expression means missionaries today must listen to the people's stories," he explained.

"People's needs become clear when we listen. The missionary doesn't bring his or her own solutions into other people's situation."

He said that in many places in the world, missionaries and local people are living in violent situations.

"Accompanying people who are living through violence can be dangerous. The missionary must be a companion in Christ seeking justice and reconciliation with the people who accept him or her into their sacred places."

Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes

Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes
Catholic Theological Union | Cross-cultural Ministries

15 May 2003