October is Mission Month in the Catholic Church, and one of the many great missionary activities included is the celebration of World Mission Sunday. This year, the 91st annual World Mission Sunday takes place this weekend, October 21 and 22, 2017. Through the work of our Diocesan Mission Office/The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the World Mission Sunday celebration and collection connects us with the loving work of missionaries throughout the world as well as “encounters of the heart” taking place here in our own diocese. (Note: Your church offering envelopes for last week included a World Mission Sunday envelope…and contributions are welcome in the weekly collection or directly to the Mission Office by December 11.)
Our recent experiences with Dorothy, delegate from our Sister Parish in Oyugis, Kenya, certainly provided many “encounters of the heart” as we recognized and celebrated our common experiences as Catholics and as brothers and sisters in Christ. Although we may be very different in many aspects of our daily lives, we journey together on the road of faith toward the same destination – an eternity in heaven.
This year’s World Mission theme is “Mission: The Heart of Christian Faith.” Pope Francis challenges us to dedicate ourselves to the work of missionary discipleship. How are you called to mission? Are you being “nudged” to answer the call to serve as a catechist in our faith formation program? Are you being called to act and advocate on behalf of unborn children? Do you hear the social justice call to respond to one of the many social or economic issues in our society? These are all avenues, along with the World Mission collection, to respond to our individual calls to serve as missionary disciples. Discipleship can begin “at home”, in our own communities.
As Catholics, through the World Mission collections, we have an opportunity to collectively combine our resources to carry out our baptismal call as missionary disciples. Collection funds enable the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach some of the most marginalized of our brothers and sisters on all ends of the earth. Your generous contributions help train teachers and catechists to proclaim their faith and educate others, as well as help build churches and chapels in mission stations and dioceses for people to worship, hear God’s word and receive the sacraments.
You are invited to step into the heart of our faith, into the heart of Christ, by supporting missionary efforts with your prayers, your words, your sacrifices and your actions. This is the Great Commission that Father LeRoy referenced in last week’s homily – “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
“For an increase in our own missionary spirit, so that, nourished by the Eucharist, we may help the message and love of our Lord be made known in every corner of the world, let us pray to the Lord.”