In 1926 Pope Pius XI, instituted World Mission Sunday for the universal Church. He asked Catholics to pray, learn about the missions and give donations for those working in mission territories as well as all the people they served. His concern was to foster a sense of responsibility in all Catholic people for supporting the Missions throughout the world. Today, Sunday, October 22 will be the 97th year of celebrating World Missions Sunday.
The yearly World Mission Sunday celebration reminds us that the call to bring the Gospel to others remains as necessary today as it from our very beginnings in 1st century Palestine. In our world today, being missionary is not only those called to go to other cultures, languages and lands, it is also, perhaps even more of a challenge, to bring the Gospel to our city, our neighborhoods our society. For centuries, dedicated men and women took up the call of Jesus to bring the Gospel to others. This call led many people to sacrifice greatly in order to share their faith in the message of Jesus with others. We, here in the USA, are the beneficiaries of dedicated priests, religious men and women and faith-filled laity who brought the "Good News" of Jesus to our lands. However, vocations to religious life and priesthood have diminished sharply in the past few years.
Pope Francis reminds us, “Many parts of the world are experiencing a dearth of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Often this is due to the absence of contagious apostolic fervor in communities which lack enthusiasm and thus fail to attract. The joy of the Gospel is born of the encounter with Christ and from sharing with the poor. For this reason, I encourage parish communities, associations and groups to live an intense fraternal life, grounded in love for Jesus and concern for the needs of the most disadvantaged. Wherever there is joy, enthusiasm and a desire to bring Christ to others, genuine vocations arise.”
St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast we celebrated October 4, soon after other men began to follow after him, sent his new brothers out "two by two" to bring the Gospel to others. Francis tried to live all his life the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted to share the deep love he had for Christ with others. His deep devotion to the missionary spirit he instilled in his followers as he sent them out as missionaries. It is that sense of being sent to bring Good News to others that motivated St. Francis is also what Pope Francis encourages we who are Church today to also live.
This weekend, we recommit ourselves to our common vocation through Baptism to be missionaries, through prayer, participation in the Eucharist, and by generously sharing our gifts. The annual World Mission Sunday collection provides critical financial support to missionaries and communities of faith in the most economically disadvantaged regions of the globe through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Working with limited means, local churches bear witness to the Gospel amid scarcity, conflict and instability. Missionaries address all forms of material and spiritual needs to build up the church, affirm human dignity, alleviate poverty, encourage dialogue and inspire hope.
Overseen by Pope Francis, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith has a 200 year history of solidarity. Today, when you contribute to the World Mission Sunday collection, you make it possible for the Pope to provide support to:
- 844,000 catechists teaching the faith
- 258,540 Religious Sisters caring for children and families
- 38,140 seminarians preparing for the priesthood
- 26 million children in primary schools
- 12,000 clinics caring for the sick and dying
- 8,750 homes for orphaned children and the elderly
When it seems that so much divides us, World Mission Sunday rejoices in our unity as missionaries by our Baptism, as it offers each one of us an opportunity to support the life-giving presence of the Church among the poor and marginalized in more than 1,100 mission dioceses. If you are able, place a donation to support World Mission Sunday in the second collection basket today, or you can make a donation online at WeAreMissionary.org/wms.
Cardinal Cupich, in his letter for World Mission Sunday, encourages us to follow Pope Francis' call to bring Christ's message to our world. The Cardinal's letter is below…
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today we observe World Mission Sunday and proclaim in the words of Pope Francis, “everyone has a right to receive the Gospel.” In his annual message, the Holy Father reminds us that as baptized Christians, we are duty bound to announce the Gospel without excluding anyone. Through this worldwide Eucharistic celebration, all of us participate in the missionary movement of the Church with our prayers and activities, material offerings, our sufferings and our personal witness.
Reflecting on the theme for this year, “Hearts on fire, feet on the move,” Pope Francis invites us to kindle the fire of Christ's love in our hearts and to actively share our joy. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, we go forth and bring this Good News to all corners of the globe.
The World Mission Sunday collection, organized by the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, contributes to the building up the Church in over 1,100 dioceses and territories that are too young and many too poor to sustain themselves. Our offerings support the formation of seminarians and religious men and women, assist in the construction of schools and orphanages and enable missionaries to build churches in remote and resource-limited areas. Through this collection, we support the Church’s efforts to proclaim the Gospel and celebrate the Sacraments.
I urge you to keep your hearts aflame and your feet moving as we are continually transformed through Renew My Church. Your prayers are invaluable, and your financial support provides life-giving aid to our brothers and sisters in the world's most vulnerable communities. Wishing you every blessing, with kind regards, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Blase Cardinal Cupich
Archbishop of Chicago