Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Great Age of Mission: Some Historical Studies in Mission History

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Great Age of Mission: Some Historical Studies in Mission History

Article excerpt

The Great Age of Mission: Some Historical Studies in Mission History. By Lawrence Nemer, S.V.D. [Studia Instituti Missiologici Societatis Verbi Divini, No. 100.] (Sankt Augustin, Germany: Steyler Verlag. 2013. Pp. 194. euro19,90 paperback. ISBN 978-3-8050-0615-6.)

It is appropriate that the first chapter in The Great Age of Mission. Some Historical Studies in Mission History by Lawrence Nemer, S.V.D., is "My Pilgrimage in Mission," his narrative of influential intellectual, spiritual, and personal factors that shaped his life through almost fifty years of teaching seminarians in the United States, England, Australia, and Asian countries. One significant factor in Nemer's approach to church history was his interaction with Protestant scholars, especially Leslie Newbigin, Max Warren, and R. Pierce Biever. Past president of the Missionary Institute London, and most recently faculty member at Yarra Theological School in Melbourne, Nemer explores nineteenth- and twentieth-century Catholic missions in this collection of selected articles, most written after 2005. His teaching philosophy embodies his historical study of "big issues" through a study of "smaller issues" (p. 11), a plan observed in the book's overall organization (Western Scene, Asian/Oceanic Scene, African Scene). With a focus mainly on men's mission congregations, some chapters paint a wide geographic sweep, as in his study, "Catholic Missions in Oceania and the Pacific (1910-1920)." Other chapters analyze a detailed context and shorter time period such as "Australian Divine Word Missionaries Go to 'The Missions': The First Recruits."

Nemer's goal in historical research and teaching is to have students develop a dialogue with church history, as, for example, noting mission concern for peoples and individuals, openness to circumstances, and emphasis on mission spirituality (p. 25). Without denying the often nationalist approach to mission and willingness to collaborate with colonial powers (although there were differences on the point among European countries), Nemer also indicates the expressions of mission stemming from the Second Vatican Council, such as the importance of Christian witness, the "seed of the Logos" within the world, dialogue, and affirmation of local culture (pp. …

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