"Go and make disciples of all nations"
From the moment that Jesus gave the Great Commission, his followers had a clear calling. No matter what was happening in their lives, they had a calling, a calling to be "missionary disciples". Going into all the world and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus, showing people what it means to be His disciple and inviting people they meet into relationship with Jesus Christ. And this calling wasn't just for his disciples in that moment, but to every generation of disciples that followed. This is a calling for you and me.
PECS began with the vision of a priest in the United States; this vision was caught by Don Pigi Perini and the journey began as more and more countries and parishes joined the worldwide community of PECS.
In 1983, Father Michael Eivers (1928-2017) was searching for a way to lead his parish of St Boniface into ongoing spiritual growth. His fear, at that time, was that his parish was becoming a “spiritual filling station”, surviving from Sunday to Sunday. His search led him to Seoul, South Korea, to the church of Pastor David Cho which had 250,000 members across 20,000 cells creating a spirit of evangelisation through the work of the Holy Spirit.
In 1987, Don Piergiorgio (Pigi) Perini (1929-2020) of Sant'Eustorgio, Milan, visited Father Michael Eivers to experience the cells. He knew that evangelisation is the call and mission of every Christian and saw the rediscovery of this call through the system of parish evangelisation cells. Don Pigi worked alongside 40 parishioners to share the commitment of transforming the parish into a community burning with faith and committed to evangelisation, to become a “parish on fire”.
In 2012, Father Victor Vella of Holy Innocents’ parish, Orpington, wanted to move forward as a parish focused on mission, rather than maintenance. He visited Sant'Eustorgio's parish in Milan, the home of the Parish Evangelisation Cells in Europe and was inspired by their impact on parish life at Sant'Eustorgio. The Parish Evangelisation Cell System emphasises the importance not only of small groups, but also of Eucharistic Adoration and the regular proclamation of the “kerygma”, the basic truths of the Gospel.
On 12 April 2015, Divine Mercy Sunday, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, approved the statutes “of the Body of the International Service of the Parish Evangelisation Cell System for the support and development of this international instrument of evangelisation”. This official recognition of PECS was celebrated in September 2015, at an audience in Rome with Pope Francis.