This first of two presentations will look at the results of the 2001 Seminar, where participants reflected together on the past, present, and future of the missionary Church. Such periods of reflection are good, first of all, for gathering what is emerging as common wisdom about the past. It helps build a kind of resource of what has been done well, and what perhaps should not be repeated. These periods of reflection are good, too, for getting a sense of where people find themselves in the present, providing a shared point of departure for looking into the future, and for indicating what values and ideas ought to be carried forward. They help provide a continuity between the best of the present and what we hope to experience in the future.
This presentation will be in two parts. The first part will survey some of the salient ideas which emerged in that seminar. Anyone who has read through the results of the seminar as published in the July-August issue of the SEDOS Bulletin will know that there are too many ideas to treat here. I have singled out seven of them as particularly important for the future which we are trying to prepare for here. These seven have particular relevance for the work of the missionary Church in the next two decades, the focus of our reflections in these days. There are others, to be sure, which could be examined. But these seven offer an important basis for the next steps we hope to take in mission.
The second part of this presentation moves to looking at what was absent in the reflections from 2001, and should be preoccupying our attention. I have singled out one area which struck me especially, and which, to my mind, needs our attention now. My hope is that you will find this opportunity to reflect on this area helpful in your own work in guiding your institute.