By Jim Lindsay, Executive Director
Annually, World Mission Sunday is observed on the next-to-last Sunday in October. As described by Pope John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is “an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world.”
Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow – as new dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of men in various parts of the world hearing Christ’s call to the priesthood, as areas devastated by war or natural disaster are rebuilt, and as other areas, long suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and the Church. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics from around the world is so urgently needed. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith worldwide.
Mission dioceses – about 1,100 at this time – receive regular annual assistance from the funds collected. In addition, these mission dioceses submit requests to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for assistance, among other needs, for catechetical programs, seminaries, the work of religious communities, for communication and transportation needs, and for the building of chapels, churches, orphanages and schools. These needs are matched with the funds collected each year. The world’s national directors of the Propagation of the Faith vote on these requests, matching the funds available with the greatest needs. These funds are then distributed, in their entirety, to mission dioceses throughout the world.
Please be generous in the World Mission Sunday collection. This is an opportunity for us to realize that all of us, by virtue of our baptism, are called into the Church’s mission. Your support will allow more people to hear God’s Word and to have their faith nourished and strengthened.
I also ask that you remember the missionary activity of the Church in your prayers, not just on World Mission Sunday, but throughout the year. And please consider being a missionary yourself!
It is a source of hope and passion for our Church and for our world that Catholic lay people – men and women, young and old – are giving their gifts in order to help bring about God’s reign, alongside priests and religious brothers and sisters. Lay missionaries serve full-time from as little as one week up to several years in hundreds of different programs, such as Redeemer Ministry Corps, Cabrini Mission Corps and the Maryknoll Lay Missioners. They teach in schools, provide health care in hospitals and clinics, run soup kitchens, offer clerical support in social service agencies, serve in after-school programs for at-risk youth, work with people living with AIDS, do pastoral work in parishes, operate clothing rooms for the poor, build homes for low-income families, and perform so many more good works.
Men and women who serve as lay missionaries may be recent college graduates, senior citizens or those retired from the workforce, or at any point in between. They may be married or single, with or without dependent children. And whatever they do and wherever they serve, they are helping to meet the needs of the poor and those who live on the margins of society.
If you would like more information about lay mission opportunities, please contact Catholic Volunteer Network via their website at catholicvolunteernetwork.org.
Presented October 16, 2011 at a parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia