Up Front and Personal

Mission Sunday Is Part Of a Very Busy Month

The month of October holds special meaning for all Catholics. First, it is Respect Life Month, when we are reminded of the innate dignity and value of every human life, especially pre-born life, the elderly and infirm, also the poor and marginalized.

It also is the month dedicated to our Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary, whose feast day was Oct. 7. This feast recalls the great victory of the combined Christian fleet at Lepanto over the Ottoman Empire in 1571. Pope Pius V asked the faithful to pray the rosary for a victory. A feast day was established as Our Lady of the Rosary and churches named Our Lady of Victory also refer to this great event. The victory at Lepanto that saved Europe from invasion is attributed to the intercession of our Blessed Mother.

October is also Mission Month, a time when the work of missionaries throughout the world is acknowledged. Oct. 1 was the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, who is a co-patron of the Missions along with St. Francis Xavier.

Here at the diocesan Mission Office, it is time to mail mission materials, which includes the famous “mite box,” mission information and order forms to our Catholic elementary schools, high schools and parish religious education programs. We encourage those groups to include support of the missions via prayer and financial sacrifices in their fundraising. Ideas on how to encourage mission support are also included in the mailing.

In the last several years, about 60 percent of elementary schools and 25 percent of parish religious education programs have been raising and sending funds through the Mission Office. We thank them for their generosity.

The highlight of Mission Month is World Mission Sunday, which is always celebrated on the next to last Sunday of October, this year on Oct. 23. The day was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926 and this year marks the 90th anniversary of World Mission Sunday.

This year’s theme is “Mercy Changes the World.” Mass will be celebrated at St. James Cathedral-Basilica at 11 a.m., and at the end of that Mass, which will be broadcast live on the NET, those schools and CCD programs that have made significant donations to our office will be honored. Also, schools and CCD programs donating smaller amounts faithfully each year will be acknowledged. The schools and programs being honored are invited to St. James to receive their awards from Auxiliary Bishop James Massa.

There will be a special collection in parishes. Pastors have received a package with information to be used to alert the faithful. One might wonder what happens to a donation for World Mission Sunday. Your pastor sends the funds to the diocesan Mission Office and if your name is sent along with the funds, it is forwarded to the National Office in Manhattan so that copies of Mission Magazine may be sent to you.

Each spring, the national directors from around the world meet in Rome to report the offerings from their respective countries. The national directors are presented with a list of the projects and programs in the mission lands that need support from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. They decide on which projects most need assistance and funds are sent for those projects from each National Office. Those funds (your donations), may buy Bibles for catechists in Ghana, assist Sisters in South Sudan caring for orphans in Jesus’ name or may buy a scooter for a priest in Thailand so he may visit his parishioners who live far from the main church. It also may assist Christians who may be persecuted in some parts of the world. What’s more important is that wherever your offering might end up, it brings with it the Good News of Jesus Christ and His message of peace, hope and salvation.

So I wish you a happy 90th celebration of World Mission Sunday! Your prayers and sacrifices for the missions are greatly appreciated and help bring Jesus to those who are most in need.

Msgr. Nagle directs the diocesan propagation of the Faith Office.