OCHOA: World Mission Sunday - Continuing the call the Apostles answered
October 12, 2021
The lovely season of Autumn returns, bringing with it the annual celebration of World Mission Sunday.
On Oct. 24, Catholics worldwide will once again offer prayer and financial contribution for the Church’s missionary activity. At each Mass, funds will be gathered for distribution to more than 1,150 mission dioceses through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Since its foundation in 1822 by the Venerable Pauline Jaricot, this Pontifical Mission Society has been responsible for ensuring that less fortunate churches in every continent receive support.
The missionary outreach of the Church began with the early Apostles’ response to Jesus’s command to “go to the ends of the earth” (Matthew 28:19). The book of Acts describes the many astounding experiences of the Apostles as they answered this call. These first missionaries were “on fire” with the Spirit, preaching about the Kingdom of God — where the poor in spirit and the peacemakers are blessed.
The 2021 theme for World Mission Sunday captures this enthusiasm. “We cannot help but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Our Holy Father encourages us to join the effort in his annual World Mission Sunday message. He points out that after witnessing Jesus “cure the sick, dine with sinners, feed the hungry and propose the Beatitudes,” the Apostles were moved to follow Him and spend the rest of their lives proclaiming His message.
Pope Francis gives tribute to those who have left home and family to minister in faraway places with new languages and cultures. These generous individuals follow the efforts of St. Paul, St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Damien of Molokai, among others. He then encourages reaching out to the peripheries, saying “nowadays, members of our own families can be in the ‘periphery.’ We must open our hearts to their concerns and give witness to God’s tender and forgiving love. The essence of faith demands that we reach out beyond ourselves.”
“Always, but especially during this time of the pandemic, it is necessary to widen our circle…,” he continued.
This year, the Archdiocesan World Mission Sunday celebration will be held on Oct. 24 with a livestreamed special Mass at St. Martha Catholic Church in Porter (Kingwood) at 11 a.m. Our many missionary congregations and parish mission groups will be acknowledged and remembered in prayer. Adapting to the pandemic’s demands in various ways, these groups continue to spread God’s gracious love and mercy here and beyond our borders.
“To be on mission is to be willing to think like Christ does, to believe with Him that those around us are our brothers and sisters.
May His compassionate love touch all of our hearts and make us all true missionary disciples. May Mary, the first missionary disciple, inspire us to be salt and light in our land.” (Pope Francis 2021 World Mission Sunday address). †
Hilda Ochoa is the director of the Missions Office.