World Mission Sunday was instituted in 1926 by Pope Pius XI. This annual celebration is marked with prayers, and it motivates every Baptised Christian to live and practise the Church’s mission. Every year, the Pope reminds the Church to be aware of its missionary character and its fundamentals, through his message on World Mission Sunday. He chooses a different theme each year and assists every member of the Church to reflect on his or her own encounter with Jesus and how he or she has to respond, as missionary disciples.
On the Solemnity of Pentecost (9 June 2019), the Holy Father Pope Francis, released his message for World Mission Sunday 2019 with the theme “Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.” He set the month of October as an Extraordinary Missionary Month, as the Church celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XV (30 November 1919), “Maximum IIIud”. As is traditional with such documents, it takes its title from the opening words of the original Latin text, meaning “that momentous”. Pope Francis invites “all Catholics and the Church to revive missionary awareness and commitment” in order to reveal the salvation of Jesus Christ to all nations.
This Extraordinary Missionary Month helps every one of us to discover and rediscover the missionary aspect of our faith in Jesus Christ. We receive the “gift freely” and “share it freely” (cf.MT 10:8) as we communicate and proclaim the message of Christ that everyone be saved as they come “to know the truth and experience his mercy through the ministry of the Church,” (cf. 1 Tim 2:4; Lumen Gentium, no.48). The Church moves across the boundaries, demanding “a constant and ongoing missionary conversion” taking the examples of Saints, holy men and women.
Each of us has been given a mission to give oneself “to others and build relationships that are life-giving” as a part of our Christian identity, which is “rooted in the fatherhood of God and the motherhood of the Church.” By virtue of our baptism, the Church needs us to “respond generously to the call to leave behind home, family, country, language and local Church, and to be sent forth to the nations, to a world not yet transformed…” The whole evangelising mission of the Church is to proclaim the Word of God, witness the Gospel and celebrate the life of the spirit in dialogue with cultures and religions of the peoples at the very ends of the earth.
(Extract from the message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis on World Mission Sunday 2019)
As we celebrate the Extraordinary Missionary Month – on the first day of Clergy Recollection (15 October 2019), about 40 of us from the KL Archdiocese (the Cardinal, Archbishop, Bishop Emeritus, priests and Deacon) made a pilgrimage to the Church of St. Theresa of Lisieux, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan. This Church has been designated a Mission Parish in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. We had our afternoon prayer, celebration of Sacrament of Reconciliation, reflection and spiritual walk, following the footstep of St. Theresa. Rev. Fr. Eugene Benedict, who is the Parish Priest, explained about St. Theresa’s spiritual journey and her family life in detail, as we walked each station. We ended our walk with adoration and benediction.
This pilgrimage has given us a great opportunity to revive and re-live our baptismal call and how we could commit ourselves into the Church’s mission as ordained ministers. As Pope Francis’ message, “I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptised man and woman is a mission”, we too are together on mission, and so, let us join in the mission of the Church in prayers – sharing the stories of mission and charity. May the whole Church be guided by the Holy Spirit and be led into the way of truth.
Rev. Fr. George P.