By Gerard Gough

AS MISSION Month got underway, Missio Scotland held its annual conference in the Xavier Centre at Carfin on Saturday October 1, which saw attendees, both lay and clerical, travel from all over Scotland to attend the event.

With this being the Year of Mercy, the conference reflected that in its theme, which was ‘The Church is commissioned to announce the Mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel.’

Fr Vincent Lockhart, Missio Scotland’s Acting National Director was the keynote speaker at the conference and gave an insightful talk that spoke of: mercy and forgiveness being a core issue for individuals and communities; the incarnation and the crucifixion being the climax of that; how the Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God and bring Jesus’s message to the world; and how love and mercy are two qualities that always endure.

Fr Lockhart also used personal experiences to explain how small acts of love and mercy can go a long way in creating deeper relationships both with one another and also with God.

After a break for lunch, Patricia Carroll, Pastoral Resources Director for St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese—who provides adult faith formation for lay parish leaders—delivered her talk, which focussed on the merciful gaze of Jesus and she invited attendees to discuss how they could replicate that gaze in their everyday lives and interactions with people.

Fr Lockhart was pleased that the conference aptly managed to convey the sense of family in the Church, which is central to Missio Scotland as an organisation.

“I think it was very useful that the conference focussed upon the spiritual foundation of Missio and the work of missionaries,” Fr Lockhart said. “Missio is perhaps better known for helping to provide education for seminarians and poor children and supporting religious and parishes in parts of the world where there is immense poverty. However, at the end of the day, Missio is about maintaining a sense of family in the Church, where we share our crosses together and have the presence of Christ among us. It is about the Church here in Scotland sharing what we have with the Church elsewhere and enabling the Church in poorer countries to bring hope and practical aid to the wider community in which they live.”

Everyone at Missio Scotland looks forward to the continued growth and success of the conference in the years to come.