Five new saints show the importance of mission

October 22, 2019

Priests arrive in procession for the canonization Mass for five new saints celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 13. (CNS photo)

HOUSTON — The missionary spirit of the Catholic Church was celebrated during the month of October in the Archdiocese, as well as in Rome. These events highlighted the Extraordinary Month of Mission that Pope Francis asked all dioceses to participate in through prayer, education and acts of charity.

The parish community of St. Laurence Catholic Church in Sugar Land hosted the Archdiocesan World Mission Sunday Mass and reception, where 15 religious and lay missionary groups displayed information about their efforts.

Contributions donated at the Eucharistic celebration will support the Worldwide Subsidy Fund of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which provides grants to more than 1,100 mission dioceses around the world. 

At the same time in Rome, five new saints were canonized in an extraordinary Liturgical celebration attended by some 50,000 people, including dignitaries from the saints’ home countries. 

John Cardinal Newman of England was the most well-known of the group. The other new saints were women, representing Brazil, India, Italy and Switzerland. 

The Gospel proclaimed that day was the story of Jesus curing the lepers. Three of the new saints dedicated their lives to the care of the sick, poor and outcast in their countries. Each of these women were catalysts for others, forming congregations to spread to new places and continue the same, loving work in other locations. 

New St. Dulce Lope Ponce has been called Brazil’s “Mother Teresa.” Born into a well-off family, she joined the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. She founded the largest charitable organization in the country, which includes a teaching hospital and an educational center that offer free education for the poor. 

India’s St. Mariam Theresia founded the Congregation of the Holy Family in 1914. Today, more than 1,500 sisters continue the work around the world, caring for families and for the sick. 

Italy’s St. Giusepina Vannini is a model of persistence in her desire to follow God’s call. She was raised outside of St. Peter’s in an orphanage run by the Daughters of Charity. After being rejected by the order due to poor health, she went on to found the Daughters of St. Camillus for the purpose of caring for the sick and dying. 

Switzerland’ new saint, St. Marguerite Bays, shows how a simple life can be a holy life. She worked as a seamstress and helped at her parish. During her life, she received the stigmata, the signs of Jesus’ wounds. 

As the Extraordinary Mission Month comes to an end, may the lives and testimonies of these new saints, together with the faithful’s renewed missionary awareness and commitment, fruits of preparation during this Mission Month, lead Catholics to a stronger response to the call to be missionary disciples.