This weekend brings a special day for the Church, and for each of us.
Each year, the Church celebrates World Mission Day and this year it falls on October 18.
All Christians are called to “pray fervently” for the mission of the Church and to help the Church materially, said Fr. Tadeusz Nowak, general secretary of the Pontifical Mission Society of the Propagation of the Faith, at a press conference on October 16 in Rome.
In the context of this pandemic, which has highlighted the dependence of humanity on divine providence, he called Catholics to look for inspiration to the missionary figure of Pauline Jaricot, the founder of the Society, who will soon be beatified.
This is a “special” year for the Mission Society, explained Fr. Nowak.
On May 26, Pope Francis approved the recognition of a miracle attributed to Jaricot. This woman from Lyon, who longed for the Gospel to reach the “ends” of the earth, created the Society from a “simple concept”: she began by inviting a dozen people to pray for the mission of the Church and to contribute one penny a week for this purpose. What happened next “was nothing short of a miracle,” the priest continued.
“Pauline Jaricot was completely dependent on God’s providence,” noted the secretary. During this pandemic, Christians are “more aware than ever” of this dependence.
On October 18, World Missionary Day, “we are all called, (…) wherever we are, to pray fervently for the mission of the Church” and to “do what we can at the material level to support this mission,” he urged. Following the example of Pauline Jaricot, he expressed his desire that Catholics would unite to make this day a “success.”
Money is also needed
Archbishop Giampietro dal Toso, president of the Society, for his part, highlighted a problem: with the advent of the pandemic, many churches have been deprived of collections.
Thus, many grants for the year 2020 have been dedicated to helping priests and religious communities in their daily lives. Whether helping a monastery in Morocco or families in need in Bangladesh, he said, the Society make it possible to shed light on “many hidden situations.” Finally, the prelate recalled that the issue of finances is also important although it is not the priority of the Society: “Money is also a necessity, just as every soul needs a body.”
Present on the sidelines of the press conference were Marco Gibelli and Lucia Truttero, a missionary couple living in a Milanese suburb, who testified to their experience. In a vulnerable neighborhood, they share “the joys, worries and daily life” of their neighbors, most of whom are of foreign origin.
“Following Jesus as a missionary is also possible when you have a job and children” because everyone is called on this path by virtue of their baptism,” they explained to I.MEDIA. “While Covid-19 has made it difficult to be close to the poorest, they invite Catholics “not to stay at home within four walls as if the world did not exist.”
The mission of the Church never stops
“Being a missionary means responding to the call of your baptism,” says Sister Anna Cambongo, a missionary in Angola. During her 19 years of consecrated life, this religious has dedicated herself to the sick, trying to see Christ in every suffering person.
“In this time of pandemic, when travel is difficult, our first mission must be prayer, as St. Therese of the Child Jesus said,” reflected Fr. Vignandas Gangula, an Indian missionary, to I.MEDIA.
This year’s theme, “Here I am, send me” (Is 6:8), reminds us that “all the faithful are called to reconfirm their necessary and urgent participation in the evangelizing mission of the Church,” added Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
This must be manifested through prayer, sacrifice, reflection and material help. He also noted that being a missionary presupposes the presence of the Holy Spirit without whom “we can do nothing.” According to him, the particular context in which this day will be celebrated should not make us forget that “the mission of Jesus given to the Church never stops,” the prelate said.