Sunday, October 23, will mark the 95th World Mission Sunday, when parishes across the globe focus their attention on the Universal Church. The faithful will come together in prayer and in deeds to help over 1,100 dioceses make Christ present, particularly where He has been doubted, ignored and shunned.
World Mission Sunday is the Holy Father’s annual appeal for spiritual and financial support, ensuring that the life-giving work of overseas missions and missionaries can continue. It is a concerted global effort that enables the Church to build up local churches in Asia and Africa, the Pacific Islands and parts of Latin America and Europe.
Pope Francis’ message for World Mission Sunday is a reflection on this year’s theme: “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). He reminds us that the Church is missionary by nature and that we are called at Baptism to share in this mission together: “Every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ. And the Church, the community of Christ’s disciples, has no other mission than that of bringing the Gospel to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ. To evangelize is the very identity of the Church.”
Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, commented on the importance of this day by relaying his experience at the service of the Catholic Church: “My own diplomatic service in several mission territories, including Uganda, Haiti, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and the Pacific Islands, has given me firsthand experience of the vital importance of the Mission Sunday collection. In particular, the generous contributions of the faithful in the United States make it possible for the Pontifical Mission Societies to provide annual subsidies to missionary dioceses, and to directly support mission seminaries and religious formation houses, the education of children in mission schools, the building of chapels and churches, as well as sustaining homes for orphaned children, the elderly and sick.
“This support makes possible the proclamation of the Gospel, the celebration of the Sacraments, and service to the poor in mission dioceses. For the first decades of its life, the fledgling Church in the United States received essential support from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and the Catholics of this country have returned that generosity in abundance,” Archbishop Pierre said.
Monsignor Kieran Harrington, U.S. National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, pointed out that “by prioritizing support for pontifical missions, we work with the Holy Father to ensure there is a fair distribution of our giving to all in need of our support and Christian witness. We serve the whole Church to make certain Christian charity truly extends to all.
“We are called to bear witness to the miracles of God and to the Church that is growing and joyful in Nigeria, where priests and nuns are murdered for their faith. And in China, where a government that tolerates no devotion above strict obedience to its dictates, has imprisoned a cardinal. Or in Nicaragua, where Christian faith is subordinated to the fears and ambitions of the powerful. Or in scores of other places, where the faithful persist in embracing the good news of the Gospel despite the deprivations and persecution imposed on them by those who feel threatened by it.”
About World Mission Sunday
World Mission Sunday was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926, and the first worldwide collection took place the following year. Since then, it has been a moment of universal solidarity, when each member of the Church, regardless of location or background, plays their part in supporting each other. This is what makes it such a special celebration.
Held globally on the next-to-last Sunday in October every year, World Mission Sunday is a unique effort for the entire Church to provide help for over 1,100 dioceses. Through the work of these churches, and their witness to Christ, the poor receive practical help and experience God’s love and mercy, His hope and peace.
For new, young or poor dioceses, the collection from World Mission Sunday is essential on their journey to becoming self-sufficient.
The Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States work through local Bishops, churches and missionary congregations to ensure that resources are distributed equitably and justly – based on the needs of individual churches. The money goes directly from the United States to the Bishops in the mission territories, allowing for a direct link between two local churches.
About The Pontifical Mission Societies USA
In the early 19th century in France, laywoman Pauline Jaricot, barely 20 years old, began hearing about the Missions of her day, including in the U.S., from her brother Phileas, who was studying to be a priest. She decided to do something to help missionaries, right from her home in Lyon. Pauline gathered her friends and workers in the local silk factory into small groups. Everyone in the group pledged to pray for the Missions daily and to offer the equivalent of a penny weekly. Each group member then found 10 other friends to do the same. Within a year, she had 500 people praying daily and offering help each week.
From Pauline’s vision came the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS). Through thousands of missionaries in 1,100 dioceses worldwide, TPMS are extending Christ’s healing and His entire ministry to people in dire need of it. They are building churches, educating children, and healing physical and psychological wounds caused by war, cruelty, oppression, terror and despair. They are bearing witness to the compassion of Christ.
Funds from the first collection of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in 1822 were sent to the Diocese of Louisiana, which then extended from the Florida Keys to Canada, as well as to Bardstown, Kentucky. Until 1908, when the United States was no longer considered mission territory, this country received over seven million dollars.
These funds helped build many of the parishes where World Mission Sunday will be marked October 23, providing a terrific opportunity to pay it forward.