Looking back at 2015

What a year it has been.

Apart from being the hottest year on record, highlighting and giving real urgency to Pope Francis’s frequent calls for world leaders to address the issue of climate change, 2015 was an exceptionally bad year for international peace and security.

In November, the world was stunned by the horror and brutality of the terror attacks in Paris, which served as a timely reminder of the escalating conflict in many parts of the world especially the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

“Today Jesus weeps because we have chosen the way of war, the way of hatred, the way of enmities,” the Pope said, in the aftermath of the attacks.

He spoke of the approach of the Christmas season; yet while lights, parties, bright trees and even Nativity scenes will decorate homes, “the world continues to wage war. The world has not understood the way of peace.”

YearofMercyThe year of 2016 has been proclaimed by the Holy Father as an extraordinary Jubilee Holy YEAR OF MERCY. A special logo depicting a lost soul being carried by the crucified Christ, reminds us that it could well be the merciful father carrying his prodigal son. It is extremely rich in meaning, linking the parables of the prodigal son with the good shepherd. The message is clear: No matter what we may have done, He will find us and carry us home!

Mercy must surely begin at home – in the family – where parents and children, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins and extended family members forgive one another for hurts or transgressions. I call this passive mercy.

But there is a more challenging kind of mercy – one that puts the suffering of others first and creates the change that will take away that suffering, replacing it with love and compassion!

It is this active mercy that is my vision for the missions this year. A mercy that will replace ignorance with understanding and learning to help us create new leaders; mercy that will replace unemployment with the dignity of work; mercy that will give people the skills and ability to make work for themselves and thus support their families and contribute to building up their community.

My passion for education is great, and I often think of the words of the late Nelson Mandela: ‘Education is the only thing nobody can take away from you.’ It’s my hope that you’ll also share my passion, to make this Year of Mercy a meaningful and memorable one in Africa.

May I add my personal wish that 2016 brings peace and goodwill to the world, and peace to your heart, and may you enjoy God’s richest blessings throughout the coming year.

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