HORSTMAN: Baptized and Sent - Short-term mission opportunities

October 8, 2019

Pope Francis has designated October an Extraordinary Mission Month, asking the whole Church to revive its missionary awareness and commitment.

The theme for the month is “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.” Pope Francis reminds us of Jesus’ missionary mandate to go and make disciples of all nations, which is “the essential task” of the Church.

He also reminds us that this missionary mandate touches each of us personally, that we are all missionaries by virtue of our Baptism. “I am a mission, always, you are a mission, always, every baptized man and woman is a mission,” always.

As missionaries, we are called to respond to God’s love for us by sharing His love with others. Touched by God’s love, our lives should reflect God’s love in our homes, at school, at our places of work and in our communities. Mission is not a place we go; it’s who we are.

In bringing God’s love to others, we must not overlook the marginalized. The Gospel calls us to serve the poor and the sick, those who are despised and overlooked, “those who cannot repay you.”

Today and always, “the poor are the privileged recipients of the Gospel.” There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. The Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love, to see God in others, and to seek the good of others.
In fulfilling their missionary vocation, some are called to leave home to witness to and accompany people of different nations and cultures.

Some of the great saints of the Church dedicated their lives to foreign and domestic missions.

An exciting and growing ministry in the Church is short-term missions, which are often parish-based. Lay people leave home for a week or more to witness to God’s love. They walk with the poor of another land, accompany them, empower them and learn from them. They return to their parishes with a renewed missionary spirit; a renewed spirit of service to God and others.

Our Archdiocese is blessed with short-term mission groups. For instance, St. Anthony of Padua sponsors a mission to the mountain communities west of Trujillo, Honduras. The mission includes sacramental, catechetical, medical and dental teams.

St. Ignatius has a sister relationship with a parochial school in Quiche, Guatemala, which they support and visit. St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal in Texas City twins with a parish in Santa Cruz del Quiche, Guatemala, and sponsors a mission there each July. St. John Vianney sponsors spring and fall missions to Eagle Pass on the border to repair homes of the elderly and disabled poor.

Missionaries of Divine Mercy based at St. Laurence sponsors annual medical missions to Grano de Oro, Costa Rica and Laredo.

Sending out Servants, based at St. Ignatius of Loyola, sponsors three trips a year to Quiche, Guatemala, one an evangelization mission and two focused on vision care and cataract and pterygia surgeries. St. Martha parish in Kingwood sponsors trips to impoverished communities outside Bogota, Cartagena and Barranquilla, Colombia that focus on ministry, education, child protection, income generation and community development.

During spring break, students from St. Agnes Academy, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory and St. Pius X Catholic High School travel to the border to repair homes, and students from St. Thomas High School travel to Honduras to work at the St. Vincent de Paul Youth Center near Tegucigalpa. Ideally, every parish would have a committee that focused on mission education, spirituality and promotion. Ideally, every parish would participate in at least one short-term mission opportunity.

If you are interested in starting a mission movement in your parish, the Archdiocesan Mission Office and Archdiocesan Mission Council are ready to help. Just email Hilda Ochoa (hochoa@archgh.org), the Archdiocesan Mission Director, and she will put you in touch with the appropriate person.

If you would like first to explore mission opportunities, please join one of our groups on a short-term mission. A list of these mission groups, including the person to contact, can be found at www.archgh.org/missiontrips. †

Richard Horstman is the Archdiocesan Mission Council Chair.