The Missionaries of God’s Love began within the Disciples of Jesus covenant community in Canberra in 1986, under the guidance of Fr. Ken Barker. Some young men, who belonged to the covenant community, approached Fr. Ken, expressing a call to priesthood, but also wanting to remain part of the community. They agreed to meet weekly before the Blessed Sacrament for a year in order to listen to the Lord’s direction. At the end of that time they began to share a common life together in a fraternity house, seeking to live the Gospel in a radical manner, by imitating Jesus in his poverty, and developing a strong life of prayer and brotherhood. They began to understand that their commitment to contemplative prayer, adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and charismatic worship, was meant to empower them to bring God’s love to others, especially to the alienated and marginalised in society.
Jesus said, “I have come to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were blazing already” (Lk 12:49)
The Missionaries of God’s Love exist to share Jesus’ mission to bring this fire to the earth. It is the fire of God’s love, burning in the heart of Jesus, which took Him to the Cross. It is also the fire of the Holy Spirit poured out at Pentecost, and now experienced in a new way in the Church. The Missionaries immerse themselves in this fire through the grace of “baptism in the Spirit,” through daily meditation on the Cross of Jesus, and through Eucharistic adoration. With this fire burning within their hearts, they give all for the sake of the Kingdom and, commit themselves to the spreading of the Good News of God’s love to the ends of the earth.
We consecrate ourselves to the Lord through vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and to offer ourselves for the preaching of the Good News to the ends of the earth.
When the Missionaries take vows they call upon the fire of the Holy Spirit to empower them and they consecrate themselves to the heart of Jesus broken in love for the world, placing themselves under the mantle of protection of Mary the Mother of God, who they trust graciously intercedes for them.
The Missionaries seek to have Jesus’ attitude of trust in the Father’s provident care, living in absolute dependence on the Father (Lk 12:22-32). We also seek to be detached from all things and relationships, not storing up treasures on earth (Mt 6:19-21). At the appropriate time in their journey, brothers give away all that they own to the poor and follow Jesus in a radical way (Mk 10:17-22). The Missionaries live a simple way of life in regard to food, clothing and housing. All that we do have, we hold in common. Our poverty enables us to move lightly on the journey and is lived in a spirit of joyful simplicity, filled with gratitude for the goodness of God who provides so bountifully for us.
The Missionaries embrace celibacy in imitation of Jesus for the sake of the Kingdom of God (Mt 19:12). It is a beautiful gift from the Lord, whereby He captures a brother’s heart and, expands the heart in love for all men and women. This celibate love cannot be contained. It is a love that reaches out to the lost and needy to offer the Good News. It makes the brothers uniquely available to be sent in evangelisation and enables them to give their undivided attention to the Lord (1 Cor 7:32-35). To fulfil the celibate vocation, the Missionaries maintain a deep and strong prayer life. In addition, the way of life of the brotherhood provides an atmosphere of acceptance, sharing, affection, and challenge, bringing a healthy balance to our lives, enabling us to live celibacy joyfully and freely.
Following Jesus, we want to be obedient to the Father’s will in everything (Jn 5:34). We submit ourselves to the way of life of prayer, brotherhood, evangelisation, order and discipline, making it our very own. We seek to discover God’s will for us through communal dialogue, consultation and discernment. Brothers are in obedience to the Moderator and whoever he appoints in authority. Authority is exercised in the spirit of Jesus, as a servant who washes the feet of brothers (Jn 13:1-20). Brothers in authority are meant to listen, dialogue, consult, and facilitate the gifts of others. They are not to “lord it over” anyone (Mk 10:35-45). Often the spirit of obedience requires an individual to give way his own will for the sake of the common good.
Our life springs from the experience of the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”. This the grace that renews sacramental baptism, opens one to charismatic gifts, brings one into deeper conscious relationship with Jesus as Saviour and Lord, and brings personal transformation, enabling a person to yield the fruits of the Spirit in a new way.
A distinctive feature of the Missionaries of God’s Love is that it is a consecrated group within a Catholic charismatic Covenant community, the Disciples of Jesus. The Disciples of Jesus community is a lay community located in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. The Community is made up of people from all walks of life, all states of life, and all stages of life. Members are dedicated to developing a Catholic way of life which is true to their baptismal calling. They seek to live out their baptism by developing a way of life that is true to the gospel, and by bringing the Good News of Jesus to others through various works of evangelisation.
The formation process for the Missionaries of God’s Love occurs in a supportive environment of a brotherhood house. We are challenged to grow in loving relationship with the Lord and with others. We aim to help brothers grow toward personal maturity in every way. We seek to have a good harmony and balance between the spiritual, human, intellectual and apostolic dimensions of growth. We focus on the individual needs of each brother and seek to help him develop in his own individuality, while also learning to be part of our community.
We invite any young man interested in the Missionaries of God’s Love to “Come and See” and experience our way of life. They may then choose to enter into a time of “active discernment”, during which they prayerfully consider our way of life whilst keeping in regular communication with us. This leads into a one year pre-novitiate in Canberra. This period fosters discernment “from the inside” by living with the brothers and sharing their life and mission. Following pre-novitiate discernment, they are invited to enter the novitiate program. On completion of the novitiate program brothers are invited to profess initial vows.
Having professed initial vows, brothers have the opportunity for further study and training in our Seminary House in Burwood, Melbourne. Most of our brothers go on to prepare for priesthood and undertake several years of theological study at the Catholic Theological College , East Melbourne. Final vows are usually professed 5 years after initial vows. Our brothers are ordained first as deacons and then as priests.
There are two formation houses in Canberra with one overall formation program for both pre-novices and novices.
The pre-novice year entails living fully the way of life of prayer and brotherhood, while gaining some initial mission experience. The aims of the pre-novitiate are:
- to deepen in personal discipleship with Christ through prayer, study, community life, and service;
- to grow in experience and understanding of the vision, life and mission of the Disciples of Jesus Community;
- to grow in experience and understanding of the vision, life and mission of the Missionaries of Gods Love; and
- to actively discern whether this is your life-calling.
The novitiate is a year of deepening in the spiritual life through setting aside two hours a day in contemplative prayer, having regular opportunities of 3 days of retreat in solitude, receiving teaching on the way of prayer, being guided in spiritual reading, and writing reflections on this reading, living the brotherhood life, learning more about scripture, liturgy, and the teaching of the Church, gaining more insight into the realities and challenges of living a celibate life as a priest or consecrated brother, and preparing for taking initial vows at the end of the novitiate.
At initial vows, a brother is invited to dispossess and to begin living on the providence of God within our common life. To take initial vows, he needs to be convinced that the Lord has called him to our way of life and that as far as he is aware this is his life from this time forward. His capacity to endure in the way of life will be tested during the next five years before he has the opportunity of professing final vows.
The novices and pre-novices live together in the two houses of formation.
The novices and pre-novices have separate formation programs but they share a common life in the houses, prayer together, meals, recreation and sport, and various ministry activities.
Once the novitiate program has been completed, Brothers have the opportunity to begin theological studies in our Melbourne House. Men are called to deepen in their personal journey with Christ. We seek to have a good harmony and balance between the spiritual, human, intellectual and apostolic dimensions of growth. There are opportunities to deepen in their personal and communal prayer life as well as ministry opportunities in our parish, with the poor and with young people.
The brothers study at the Catholic Theological College (CTC) where they complete their studies for ordination. Those brothers not going onto the priesthood have the opportunity to study and develop there talents in a range of fields.
As Jesus formed his first companions into a band of brothers, so He unites us in Him. Jesus is the centre, the source and the means of our brotherhood. Our brotherhood is a beautiful gift of the Lord, a mystery which embraces us. It is being with Jesus and in Him with one another. It has intrinsic value in itself and has to be protected from over-commitment to apostolic work. Yet it is not an end in itself – it exists for the sake of the spreading of the Gospel. It is a school of love, where the love of Jesus is made flesh in our lives.
In our brotherhood, we seek to be loyal to one another, upholding one another’s good name and keeping basic commitments for the sake of brotherhood. We relate in a friendly way, greeting with a cheerful embrace. We honour one another in speech and affirm and build one another up in reverence and respect. We encourage and correct one another when necessary, but always in trust and love. We seek to live in the light with one another, and when relationships are damaged we seek reconciliation, offering forgiveness to one another in the Lord. We seek to avoid competitiveness and jealousy, and try to have compassion for the weak and those who we find difficult to love.
In our brotherhood, we have many times of laughter, recreation, and celebration. There are also times of sorrow, tension and sickness. We learn to bear all in a spirit of humility and love. The pervading atmosphere of the brotherhood is freedom and joy in the Lord, and the sense of unity in the Spirit that is very precious indeed.
The Missionaries of God’s Love has a vigorous prayer life. Personal prayer is crucial for a life with Jesus. Brothers seek to develop an attitude of continuous prayer in the heart. Silent adoration of Jesus in the reserved Eucharist is highly prized; brothers are committed to at least one hour of adoration when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed each day. We aim to develop the gift of contemplation – that loving attentive gaze of the heart upon Jesus. Reading of Scripture and meditation on the Word of God is important, as well as the reading of spiritual books. The examen and regular use of the sacrament of reconciliation are also crucial for growth.
Our communal prayer has different expressions. We are committed to Eucharist as the centre of our whole common life and mission. We also celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours, chanting the psalms, at morning, evening and night. We have times of charismatic praise and use of charismatic gifts, praying over one another and ministering to one another in the Spirit. We especially value prophesy as a means of the Lord speaking to us words of encouragement and direction. We also have times of intercession and spiritual warfare, being vigilant against the tactics of the evil one. We have times of fasting and self-denial using it as a means of praying for the salvation of others. Our whole life involves self-denial in union with Jesus on the Cross because to love means to sacrifice oneself, and to follow Jesus means to die to oneself
The Missionaries of God’s Love exist to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to the ends of the earth. We preach the fire of God’s love in Jesus crucified. We call people to conversion, a profound change of heart, and acceptance of Jesus as their personal Saviour and Lord. We lead them into the experience of the baptism in the Spirit and assist them in becoming genuine disciples of Jesus. We offer them the opportunity of living in a committed Christian community and equip them with the gifts and skills necessary for them to become evangelists themselves. We do all this through involvement in specific ministries such as youth camps, university outreach, spiritual retreats, catechumenate, programs for renewal, evangelising rallies, schools of evangelisation, healing ministry, street evangelising, pilgrimages and so forth.
By the grace of ordination, those brothers who are priests are consecrated and sent to proclaim the Good News to the poor in a special way (Lk 4:18-19). They do so in the authority of Jesus as head of His body, the Church. Our vision of priesthood is essentially apostolic, prophetic and missionary. We share in the universal mission of the Church to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. We seek to develop creative alternative methods of evangelization. We can be sent wherever the Lord opens a door, and we expect that the Missionaries of God’s Love will go well beyond Australian shores. Nevertheless, the Missionaries also have a ‘heart’ for Australia, and in particular our indigenous peoples, to assist the Australian Church to be more on a missionary footing in such a secular godless society. We have a particular calling to the youth of Australia, who are lost, alienated and marginalised. In the midst of darkness, we promote a culture of life.
The Lord has called us to go out on mission throughout Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. We currently have missions in Canberra, Melbourne, Darwin and in Manila in the Philippines. In all of these areas we seek to bring people into a living relationship with Jesus by proclaiming the Love of God through the Power of the Holy Spirit. Our ministry always has a particular focus on bringing the Gospel to Young people and to those who are poor or marginalised.
The Missionaries of God’s Love brothers in Darwin were invited by the Bishop in 1996 to conduct a chaplaincy to the aboriginal people through the St. Martin de Porres community. This includes a chaplaincy to the Darwin jail in which most of the inmates are Aboriginal men. They also have a part-time chaplaincy at St. John’s College, which is a boarding school with a large number of Aboriginal young people. The Sunday Masses at St. Martin de Porres are very lively and filled with joyful praise and fellowship. The experience is one of acceptance, healing and reconciliation. The focus of the mission is on reaching aboriginal men, since they tend to be shy of the Church, and are caught up in other concerns. There is also a focus on young people, since they also tend to be reluctant to come to Mass and can be victims of addictions of one kind or another.
The aim of the mission is to bring people into the experience of the Baptism in the Spirit and into community experience, and to help them to be equipped to become evangelists themselves among their own people.
This ministry is special to the heart of God since the Australian Church, and the Australian nation as a whole, will only come to full healing and maturity when our Indigenous Peoples are able to share their gifts and contribute fully in a way that enhances their own aboriginal identity.
Since coming to work in the Philippines in 1996, it has been the MGLs priority to reach out to the urban poor. The MGLs work predominantly with people who live in “squatter settlements” which are shanty towns with limited water supply and electricity, and with crowded conditions. The MGLs provide both spiritual and practical assistance to enable the poor and marginalised to develop their lives to the fullest extent possible.
One of the primary focuses of the ministry of the Missionaries of God’s Love is young people. A strong and dynamic youth group is seen as essential for the health of the parish and for its future growth. The MGLs also conduct Life in the Spirit seminars which empower people in the Holy Spirit and help to bring their Catholic faith alive. Many non-Christian sects are causing havoc amongst the people who have a simple, devotional faith and can be easily confused by false doctrine. The “new evangelization”, which the MGLs are bringing, offers Catholic people an opportunity of a deeper personal conversion and a new relationship with Jesus as their Saviour and Lord.
The MGLs are also helping to build the Disciples of Jesus Community in the area. Many people who have been baptised in the Holy Spirit want to the join the community for further formation, discipleship, and to be equipped to become evangelists themselves among their own people. Young people are also inquiring about a vocation to consecrated life and we expect that many will take up this calling as MGLs.
While most of the middle-class population in Manila speaks English very well, the brothers find that it is necessary to learn Tagalog in order to communicate well with the poor. They are seeking to build a community in the Holy Spirit with the poor. Their initial focus is on young people, but the intention is to have a community which embraces all ages and states of life
The Missionaries of God’s Love have been entrusted with the parish of St Benedict’s, Narrabundah, Canberra. While caring for the pastoral needs of the parishioners and facilitating growth in the parish, the MGL priests have established a Eucharistic Centre for the region. This Centre fosters extended Eucharistic Adoration (over 60 hours a week), charismatic worship, a healing ministry, outreach to the poor, youth ministry and spiritual renewal. The life of the Centre revolves around the Sunday 7:00pm Charismatic Mass. Each Friday evening at 5:00pm, there is also a popular Healing Mass. The Centre offers regular retreats, days of healing and evangelizing outreaches. The focus is especially on reaching the young and, those who are most alienated and marginalized. There are three vibrant youth ministries catering for different age groups, as well as a creative ministry to the urban poor.
The MGLs have been associated with St Benedict’s parish Burwood since the Hephzibah Community (later Disciples of Jesus) established its Melbourne centre there in 1990. The brothers have been officially part of the parish since 1993, when Fr Bill Durkin, the Parish Priest, offered the newly vacated parish convent to the brothers, for our use as a house of studies for our seminarians. In 2006, Archbishop Denis Hart asked the MGLs to take care of the parish pastorally, and Fr Tony Schick was appointed Parish Priest. Having the care of a parish and mission in Melbourne, in the same location as our House of Studies, is a great opportunity for the seminarians and consecrated brothers to gain practical mission experience integrated with their studies as well as providing a great impetus for renewal for the parish.
Our vision for parish work is not only to bring renewal but also to offer all the traditional forms of parish pastoral care. Particularly, we seek to be an evangelising (“Eucharistic”) centre reaching far beyond the physical boundaries of the parish. There are many youth ministries at St Benedict’s and young people come from all over Melbourne to the Sunday evening (5pm) Mass. Eucharistic Adoration is offered for over 85 hours per week, with the eventual aim of becoming “perpetual”, 24 hours every day. Our hope is to help equip the laity to grow in a life of holiness and to be missionaries in our culture and society, bringing God’s love and life to a hungry world.
Lord Jesus, send the fire of your Spirit into our hearts.
Inflame us with a deep hunger for prayer,
an enduring desire to do the Father’s will,
a burning zeal to spread the Good News of the Kingdom
and a thirst for the salvation of all men and women.
Draw us into the fire of love in your heart so that,
embracing your Cross,
we may be truly missionaries of your love
to all whom we meet.
Now and always. AMEN.
Immaculate heart of Mary, I entrust myself to you
Draw me into the heart of Jesus your Son
Share with me the mystery of his Cross
And the fire of his Spirit.
Gentle mother, since Jesus gave me to you from the Cross,
I am yours.
Nurture me in his love and help me to pray
Guide me in his Spirit and teach me his ways.
Pure and chaste virgin, as I place my life in your hands
Bring me closer to Jesus your Son,
Make me obedient to the Father and humble of heart.
Have eyes of mercy on me in my weakness
Protect me from the evil one
And bring healing grace to my life.
So with your spirit of gratitude and praise
I may have your heart for the mission
To spread the Good News of God’s Love.
Now and always. AMEN.
The Spiritual Association is for lay people who wish to unite their lives with the Missionaries of God’s Love in a spirit of prayer and sacrifice both spiritual and practical. The Spiritual Association, which was formed in 1989, enables lay people to join together to become a vital storehouse of prayer and support for the Missionaries of God’s Love.
The aims of the Association are:
- to share the way of life of the Missionaries in a manner appropriate to one’s state in life;
- to intercede for the Missionaries by prayer, fasting and/or self-denial; and
- to help the work in practical ways as the opportunity arises.
Some will be drawn to offer financial support but this is not necessary for membership.
Some principles which are fundamental to the Missionaries of God’s Love and also for the Spiritual Association are:
- to be centred on the Eucharist, daily Mass if possible, and an extended time of prayer each day before the Blessed Sacrament;
- prayer and fasting;
- growth in personal holiness, through ongoing repentance, self-denial and charity;
- evangelization by bringing the Good News of Jesus to the poor; and
- to have devotion to Our Lady, praying the Rosary daily and trusting in her mantle of protection.
In general, these practices are goals rather than binding requirements on Association members. A newsletter is sent to members of the Spiritual Association four times each year. Each newsletter commences with a brief exhortation by Fr Ken or one of the other Missionaries, tells members what the Missionaries are doing and ends with details of forthcoming events and prayer requests. Major events which members are encouraged to attend (e.g. Ordinations and the annual Celebration of Vows and Promises) are highlighted in each newsletter.