By Antonina Zielinska
When the Propagation of Faith started in the 19th century, the United States was mission territory made up of dioceses that spanned through many states, said Auxiliary Bishop James Massa.
“For Americans, giving is always repaying a gift,” he told the congregation at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, on Mission Sunday, Oct. 23.
Children from Catholic schools and religious education programs who either collected the most money or gave consistently throughout the years to benefit missions around the world joined St. James parishioners for their regularly scheduled Sunday morning Mass.
Bishop Massa and representatives from the diocesan Office of the Propagation of Faith invited the young representatives and their family and educators to receive awards recognizing their schools’ and parishes’ efforts.
“It is important to create mission awareness among young people, among the next generation,” said Msgr. Joseph Nagle, director of the diocesan office.
Therefore, he wants to encourage all Catholics to start donating to the missions at a young age, even if they can give only a little. He said the Mass and awards are a way to do that, but his office relies on educators to help explain and stress the importance of giving to the missions.
“Some people give by going to the missions, others go by giving. Without both, there is no missions,” Msgr. Nagle said citing a common missionary mantra.
“We are in the Lord’s debt all the time for all we have and all we are,” said Bishop Massa during his homily. Responding to the call of the missionaries who help those who have yet to hear the Gospel, those who are economically disadvantaged or are suffering from the effects of natural disasters and those who are being persecuted for calling Jesus Lord is a way to begin repaying a Christian’s debt of gratitude.
This year marked the 90th anniversary of World Mission Sunday, an international effort to help the approximately 1,100 mission diocese around the world with prayer, celebrations and offerings.
The following schools in Brooklyn and Queens were honored for their mission contributions in 2015-16:
School Enrollment under 250
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Academy, Dyker Heights
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy, Corona
School Enrollment over 250
St. Bernadette Catholic Academy, Dyker Heights
St. Joseph Catholic Academy, Astoria
Mission Incentive Award (schools with consistent yearly donations of any amount):
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Academy, Park Slope
Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy, Douglaston/Bayside
St. Francis Xavier CCD
Our Lady of Sorrows CCD
CCD Mission Incentive
Sts. Simon and Jude, Gravesend
Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy, Jamaica
Banner Award (Schools with a minimum of $2,500 in donations, though not the highest in their category or borough)
St. Sebastian Catholic Academy, Woodside
St. Andrew Avellino Catholic Academy, Flushing
Our Lady of Fatima School, East Elmhurst
St. Bernadette Catholic Academy ($5,600)
Special Mission Award
St. Francis Prep H.S., Fresh Meadows, (for support of sister school, St. Francis Secondary School) in Lare, Kenya