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.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Rejoicing Once Again
What could top the celebration of World Mission Sunday -- the day when the world's Catholics unite at the Eucharist to recommit ourselves, through prayer and sacrifice, to the Church's mission to bring Jesus' message of love and hope to a waiting world? Well, there was something -- and it came by e-mail.
First, let's turn back time a bit, to this past spring. Back then, we received a note -- again by e-mail -- from our mission family in the Sudan. Bishop Akio Johnson Mutek of Torit wrote about the return of refugees from his diocese; they came by bus, by truck and on foot. A decades-long Good Friday in that African nation had been transformed into the joy of Easter as these hundreds of refugees -- scattered throughout that African nation and in neighboring Uganda as well -- came home.
War broke out in the Sudan in 1983, with the violence reaching Torit in 1986. Negotiations between 2002 and 2004 resulted in the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, eventually enabling this return of refugees.
As he watched his people return, Bishop Mutek wrote us, he said that he "saw the heart of Jesus." "All the suffering they had endured was before my eyes," he continued. "It was tied to the suffering of our Lord."
As he welcomed them home, Bishop Mutek celebrated Mass, praying and rejoicing with his people.
Just yesterday, on the Thursday after World Mission Sunday, Bishop Mutek wrote again -- with more "good news" of rejoicing. His people, returned from exile just months before, gathered at the Table of the Lord this past Sunday -- just as Catholics here in the United States and throughout the world did -- to celebrate our common vocation to be missionaries.
"The day of my joy, and the joy of the Church," he wrote of World Mission Sunday in Torit in the Sudan. "This World Mission Sunday was one of the best." Indeed, knowing that in the Sudan they were gathered, along with all of us here, to rejoice in the mission of all the baptized, is cause for great joy indeed. What could top the celebration of World Mission Sunday? Only more such "Good News" from the Missions!