World Mission Sunday is held each year on the second-to-last Sunday of October. The precise date varies each year and in 1978 it landed on October 22.
St. John Paul II made a reference to this reality during his first homily as pope.
So often today man does not know what is within him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair. We ask you therefore, we beg you with humility and trust, let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life.
Precisely today the whole Church is celebrating “World Mission Day“; that is, she is praying, meditating and acting in order that Christ’s words of life may reach all people and be received by them as a message of hope, salvation, and total liberation.
St. John Paul II, a missionary pope
Many have seen this as providential, as St. John Paul II spent the remainder of his pontificate “on mission.”
He traveled the world more than any other pope and urged everyone to be missionaries in their everyday life.
As he pointed out in his apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici, “In our times, the Church after Vatican II in a renewed outpouring of the Spirit of Pentecost has come to a more lively awareness of her missionary nature and has listened again to the voice of her Lord who sends her forth into the world as ‘the universal sacrament of salvation.'”
St. John Paul II was a champion of the missionary vocation of the Catholic Church and used every opportunity to stress this fundamental truth.
God certainly has a plan and sometimes we can see glimpses of it, recognizing the hand of providence in the coming together of various events.