The Catholic Mission Forum (CMF) is the name for the collaborative effort in the United States by various mission agencies, based in Washington, DC. Convened several times a year since 2001 by the United States Catholic Mission Association (USCMA), the purpose of the CMF is “to engage in dialogue and promote collaboration among the various agencies for mission in the Church in the U.S.” The CMF facilitates reflection on the elements of mission as articulated in Church documents and on the contemporary experience of missioners, both international and domestic. CMF members view their appropriate place in the overall missionary thrust of the Church in accordance with Cooperatio Missionalis by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. From its inception, the CMF decided, as an effective means of achieving its purpose, it should prepare and host a Mission Congress every 5 years.
How the Catholic Mission Forum Came About
The Catholic Mission Forum emerged out of the Steering Committee of the Jubilee Mission Congress in 2000. In 1997 the Committee convened around its table key missionary dimensions of the Church in the US. Its purpose was to bring about more communion, collaboration, and reconciliation among the groups in the US Church who deal with missionary issues. In so doing, it provided a forum for representatives of mission communities to reflect on the key elements of Catholic mission as articulated in the Church’s documents.
Mission Congress 2000 gathered nearly 750 delegates to celebrate the gift of the mission of Jesus Christ. Among the participants were Bishops, Priests and representatives of Religious mission institutes, diocesan and parish mission endeavors, and programs engaging laity in mission and volunteer service. It was an event that witnessed to the faithfulness of the US Church to the mission of Jesus Christ. Through interaction, dialogue, workshops, keynote presentations and informal meetings, participants reflected on current trends in light of the past, and envisioned the future direction of mission.
The proceedings and insights of the Congress called for action steps. The Congress created a broad agenda for continuing attentiveness to key mission issues. To accomplish this, the original Steering Committee agreed to reconvene, changing its name to henceforward to be known as Catholic Mission Forum (CMF). Member Agencies of the CMF include Catholic Bureau of Black and Indian Missions, Catholic Extension Society, Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), Catholic Volunteer Network (CVN), Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), United States Catholic Mission Association (USCMA), along with several USCCB offices and committees – Cultural Diversity, Evangelization and Catechesis, Home Mission, Latin American Church. The CMF engaged the ongoing services of USCMA for coordination, support, and financial management.