OCHOA: Cooperating with mission

July 11, 2023

A man holds a crucifix given to him by Pope Francis after the pope installed him as a catechist Jan. 23, 2023, during a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Each summer, Catholic parishes in the United States participate in the Missionary Cooperative Plan. In this program, missionaries from around the world are invited by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo to speak during the Mass, sharing stories of their work and asking for support. There is a mutual benefit. The missionary receives prayer and financial assistance to continue, and the parish community gains a connection to the universal Church.

The Missionary Cooperative Plan of the United States began in the 1930s as a way to organize the many requests coming to the bishops and pastors for support for the Church in mission lands. It offers a second time during the year for a parish to contribute to the Church’s international missionary work, following the annual October World Mission Sunday.

As followers of Christ, we are called to have His mindset. He fed the hungry, cured the sick and welcomed the outcast.

“Inspired by this, the Church has made an option for the poor, which is understood as ‘a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness.’” (Pope Francis, Joy of the Gospel).

We want to offer assistance, but with the daily news inundating us with stories of wars, accidents and natural and human disasters, we can feel helpless about how to respond.
Through the Missionary Cooperative Plan, our contributions can make a difference. We can take outreach to the country of India as an example. Recently in Eastern India, several trains crashed, resulting in the loss of over 200 lives. The news reports brought attention to the concerns of this country. How can someone help people on the other side of the world? When the missionaries speak at the parishes, we can listen, learn and speak with them after the Mass. Through this opportunity for encounter, trusted relationships can be built. Parishioners now have a human connection through which to help.

The Missionary Cooperative Plan for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston includes over 40 groups from various continents, including religious congregations of men, religious congregations of women, and mission dioceses. The weekend for the mission appeal talks vary and are arranged by mutual agreement with the pastor and missionary. Check your parish bulletin and be ready to participate.

As Pope Francis explains, “This is why I want a Church which is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us… in their difficulties, they know the suffering of Christ… We need to let ourselves be evangelized by them… We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, and to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them, and to embrace the mysterious wisdom God wishes to share with us through them.” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel).

By listening and then sharing with the Missionary Cooperative Plan visitors, we have the opportunity to do just that. 

Hilda Ochoa is the director of the Office of Missions.