At the annual World Mission Sunday Mass inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Cardinal Dolan reminded the attentive missioners that the Church family is always supportive and grateful for their dedicated work in New York, the U.S. and abroad.
“It’s Mission Sunday, when we pray with and for the Church and the missions,” said the cardinal, the principal celebrant, in his welcoming remarks at the Oct. 23 Pontifical Mass.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher, O.P., of Sydney, Australia, was among the concelebrants. He is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for promulgating and defending Catholic doctrine.
Msgr. Kieran Harrington, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, National Office, delivered the homily, beginning with a bit of history about the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, founded in France in 1822.
“Her name was Pauline Jaricot, born in 1799 to a deeply religious, French aristocratic family,” Msgr. Harrington said of Blessed Pauline Marie Jaricot, foundress of the Society. “She was wealthy, carefree and very good-natured; she was dedicated to praying for, supporting and financing the missions.”
Msgr. Harrington noted that Blessed Pauline died penniless in 1862, her wealth and her life spent entirely to ensure that the Word of God would be spread “even to the ends of the earth….And this past May, Pauline was beatified.”
Continuing his homily, Msgr. Harrington reminded the faithful that Pope Francis “urges us today to reflect on the theme, ‘You Will Be My Witnesses.’ So it’s important for us to look to the example of Pauline as we seek to manifest that purpose to the world, to be an effective witness to Christ.” The monsignor, a Brooklyn diocesan priest, noted that this begins with prayer, that “prayer is a conversion with God. We must ask God for His assistance.”
He noted the message of the Gospel reading from Luke, about the importance of avoiding self righteousness, and instead “simply and purely” calling upon the name of the Lord.
“The greatest prayer that Christians can pray,” he said, “is the prayer of thanksgiving in the Holy Eucharist…We are called to be sent into the world; to be His witnesses, to transform and change the world, bringing the Good News to others.”
During the morning Mass, an image of Blessed Pauline was on display at the steps of the sanctuary. The concelebrants included missionary priests and representatives from mission-sending communities. In attendance were family members of missionaries who have served in various countries. In all, about 1,400 people attended, including missioners, their relatives and friends, and general Mass attendees.
Lourdes Victoria was among the missioners honored at the morning liturgy. She is coordinator of the archdiocesan Mission Education Office, having served as a mission worker in Guatemala and Colombia.
“We help people with faith formation, we pray the Rosary with them,” Ms. Victoria told Catholic New York after the Mass. “We collaborate with evangelization in the whole archdiocese. The monsignor's message was great.” She said she appreciated Msgr. Harrington’s message of renewing and maintaining “our missionary spirit as baptized people and members of the Church.”
With Ms. Victoria were Emma Buchanan and Hilda Guzman, both of whom also work at the Mission Education Office, have overseas mission experience and said they were grateful for the annual Mass in recognition of their work. Ms. Buchanan told CNY, “The monsignor encouraged us,” and Ms. Guzman said, “Yes, it was very beautiful.”
World Mission Sunday is an annual opportunity for Catholics across the globe to publicly renew their commitment to the missions. At the same time, organizers said, it offers an opportunity to thank the priests, religious men and women, and lay workers who served and have returned home, and to those who are presently bringing the message of the Gospel throughout the world.
World Mission Sunday was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926 and first commemorated the next year. Organizers said mission workers promote the faith in ministries of service, in areas of social justice and health care, and economic development.
On World Mission Sunday, all are called to send out a message of faith, hope and love, and to show solidarity with the entire Church family. Through prayers they are supporting the missionaries, and by their donations they respond to the call from Christ to feed the hungry.
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