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October 22, 2006
Why Do We Have a World Mission Sunday?

    This weekend we celebrate the annual World Mission Sunday.  This celebration has been given the place on the liturgical of the next-to-last Sunday in October. This day was originally organized by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.  The purpose of the day is to give Catholics an opportunity to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer, the sharing of time and talent in places that need our help, and almsgiving.

    You may wonder why we have a separate celebration for World Missions when we also have an annual mission appeal in all our parishes.  There are two major differences between the two practices.  The annual mission appeal is done mostly by religious communities or organizations that are specifically committed to the work of the missions.  In order to maintain their work in the third world, they need our help.  Thus, the dioceses are asked to cooperate with the religious orders.  The other major difference is that the annual mission appeal event if mostly a monetary appeal as opposed to a major reminder of our Catholic missionary spirit.

    Every year the needs of the Catholic Church grow.  There are presently about 1,000 Mission dioceses worldwide.  New dioceses are formed, their needs being many and often without monetary support.  Areas devastated by war or natural disaster need to be rebuilt.  Countries that have long felt the suppression of the state are given the opportunity to revitalize their faith but have no resources to pass on the Gospel message.  Some of the specific needs for which young dioceses need aid are: catechetical programs, seminaries, communication and transportation, as well as the building of chapels and churches.   

    As mentioned above, World Mission Sunday is not solely a time of monetary appeal.  The young churches throughout the world are definitely in need of our monetary assistance and they are very appreciative of our support but there is more to the day than money.  The Missionary character of the Church has several prongs of needs.  One very important prong is that of prayer.  St. Therese of the Child Jesus was a Carmelite nun who never left her cloister from the day she entered its doors at the age of sixteen.  She died at 24 years of age and is now the patroness of Missions.  How did this happen?  St. Therese loved the work of the Church.  She loved all of God’s people, especially the poor throughout the world.  She spent many hours praying for the priests and women religious who were dedicating their lives to the work of the missions.  In short, her heart was in the Missions.  Our hearts need to follow her example.

    World Mission Sunday is also a good time for us to take inventory of our own gifts and talents and how we are making good use of them.  There are many ways by which we can support the mission of the Church.  We do not all have to go to foreign countries.  If we have good office skills we may be able to help an organization that needs our skill.  If we are strong and healthy we may be able lend a hand in work related to our gifts.  There are a multitude of ways by which we can help one another in this world.  What we need is love and a desire to help.  We can all do this regardless of how old or unskilled we may think we are.  Enjoy the celebration.

                            Lorette P. Nault