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 17, 2008
A Week With Family
Sometimes the days are filled with meetings. This week, gratefully, those meetings were all about family.
After our office was closed Monday in observance of Columbus Day, allowing our national office family to spend time with their own families, I returned to work Tuesday still filled with the blessings of the encounters of my most recent mission visit to Asia. In the early afternoon, I welcomed Bishop Francis Antonysamy of Kumbakonam, India, and a priest from that country who is serving here, Father Raj Silva. I had met the bishop during a pastoral visit to India a year or so ago.
We spoke at length about the recent persecution of Christians in India, and about the unspeakable acts of violence committed against the Church and priests, Religious and lay Catholics.
How does the Church deal with that? How does anyone respond to such violence?
"We must educate about Jesus," Bishop Antonysamy told me. "We are called to witness to Jesus and to share His transforming, saving, life-giving love. Always we must uplift people in love."
Most appropriately, the very next day, our national office family welcomed those who can and do spread that message nationwide -- who raise awareness and support for the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies; such work benefits the Church in India and throughout the Developing World.
About a dozen of our diocesan mission office personnel -- from the Dioceses of Allentown (Pennsylvania), Arlington (Virginia), Orange and San Diego (California), and Paterson (New Jersey), as well as the Archdioceses of Chicago (Illinois), Indianapolis (Indiana) and Washington, D.C. -- came to the national office for a two-day orientation this past Wednesday and Thursday.
There were presentations by all members of the national office staff about the history of these Societies; about the support provided to the Missions -- where it goes, the process by which these distributions are decided; about where we've been able to send financial help this year because of your contributions; about our financial accountability and transparency, and about the programs and materials related to this process of informing -- educating about Jesus -- and forming Catholics here to be missionaries in prayer and sacrifice.
My time with family from diocesan offices included the celebration of Mass on each day.
At the celebration of the Eucharist, we find the source for our "uplifting" in the Lord, of which my friend in India spoke; there, at the altar, we find the fullest expression of what the Apostles were blessed to share in the Upper Room. Our Lord, present in the Eucharist, strengthens us as it does our brothers and sisters in India, to face the challenges, the difficulties, yes even the dangers of our lives. Our Lord, present in the Eucharist, nourishes each of us in the work of the Pontifical Mission Society to support the Church as it serves and uplifts the poor and the suffering. Our Lord, present in the Eucharist, sustains each one of us in our daily call to be His missionaries.
What a great way to spend the week before World Mission Sunday! May this Sunday's "family" celebration of our Baptismal vocation to witness to Jesus renew all the baptized in their commitment to our Lord's mission around the world.