The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerful missionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Missionaries Young and 100 - and including the Whole World

October is "Mission Month" - and it started with the youngest making mission their priority, especially in the Year of Faith.

On the first Friday of this month, October 5, young people gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. for the Worldwide Children's Eucharistic Holy Hour. The Missionary Childhood Association, a Pontifical Mission Society, partnered with the Children of the Eucharist to produce this Holy Hour which is broadcast live to 140 countries on Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

Father Andrew Small, OMI, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, led the Holy Hour. Children from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, and Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., members of the Missionary Childhood Association, gathered at the Basilica, joining young people all over the world – in their own local churches and chapels – to adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and to pray the World Mission Rosary for their families and the families of the world.

The World Mission Rosary was envisioned by Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, former National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, also a Pontifical Mission Society; the different colored beads call to mind the continents of the world where the Church continues her evangelizing mission. When you had completed praying the World Mission Rosary, Archbishop Sheen had said, you would have "embraced the world in prayer." Pope Benedict XVI has asked that the World Mission Rosary be at heart of the Prayer Movement to which all Catholics are called during the Year of Faith which began on October 11.

During the Holy Hour, Father Andrew answered questions from young people, including one about what the youngest in the Church can do for the Year of Faith. Father Andrew wasted no time in reminding them about the importance of prayer for the Missions - and in encouraging them to "hug the world" with prayer through the World Mission Rosary.

Here's a link to some photos taken at that Friday morning Holy Hour.

As we reached mid-October, there were missionary heroes to celebrate. The first: Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, New Jersey. Acknowledging his universal view of the Church and his consistent encouragement and support of missionary outreach, the Pontifical Mission Societies designated Archbishop Myers, a "Pontifical Ambassador for Mission" - their highest honor – during an October 11 reception for local mission supporters, held at the archbishop’s residence.

"The Pontifical Mission Societies recognize persons of remarkable mission spirit," said Father Andrew in making the presentation. "It is my unique privilege on this important evening in which we begin the Year of Faith and in the midst of our faithful mission partners to bestow this honor on Archbishop Myers."

The Pontifical Mission Societies highlighted as well a specific mission connection with Archbishop Myers – his home diocese of Peoria, Illinois, which he shares with a former National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Father Andrew, along with Assistant National Director Monsignor Robert Fuhrman, a Newark priest, presented Archbishop Myers with a glass paperweight, engraved with Archbishop Sheen’s image and his perennial message, "God love you." The gift also acknowledged Archbishop Myers the 25th anniversary of his Episcopal ordination.

That Saturday, October 13, another hero for the Missions took the spotlight: "Uncle Jim." As he marked his 100th birthday, prayers of gratitude were offered at a Mass at Our Lady of the Cenacle in Richmond Hill, New York, celebrated by the pastor, Father Robert Morales. Father Andrew sent "Uncle Jim" a special birthday greeting, observing that he put the "cent in century," especially for our mission family!

Now all of us in this "one family in mission" - young and old, bishops, priests, religious and laity - are preparing for our "once a year day" - World Mission Sunday, this weekend on October 21. On World Mission Sunday, Catholics of the world unite at Mass to recommit ourselves to our vocation, through Baptism, to be missionaries. On World Mission Sunday, we are called in a special way to be "missionaries of faith" through prayer and participation in the Eucharist, and by giving generously to the collection for the Society for the Propagation of Faith. On World Mission Sunday, we're all called to be heroes for our mission family, as we celebrate our unity as missionaries!