WelCom October 2016:
Pope Francis’ message
Missionary Church, Witness of Mercy
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which the Church is celebrating, casts a distinct light on World Mission Sunday 2016: it invites us to consider the missio ad gentes as a great, immense work of mercy, both spiritual and material. On this World Mission Sunday, all of us are invited to ‘go out’ as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family. By virtue of the missionary mandate, the Church cares for those who do not know the Gospel, because she wants everyone to be saved and to experience the Lord’s love. She ‘is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel’ (Misericordiae Vultus, 12) and to proclaim mercy in every corner of the world, reaching every person, young or old.
From the Vatican, 15 May 2016, Solemnity of Pentecost.
Pope Francis’ message in full is on the Vatican website (tinyurl.com/World-Mission-Day).
That All May Have Life!
Fr Bernard Espiritu svd
Every picture tells a story. And the 2016 Mission Sunday poster has a profound one. It was taken in January 2015 during Pope Francis’ visit to Manila. The two children, Jun and Glyzelle, were asked to share their stories with Pope Francis during his encounter with Filipino Youth. Unrelated, they had the same story. Both left home and lived in the streets of Manila due to abject poverty of their families. Both have lived hand-to-mouth from an early age. In the streets and alleys of Manila, both begged for food or scavenged scraps from rubbish bins. The children have indeed experienced hunger and abandonment, and worst of all, abuse. Jun told his story before Pope Francis and the thousands of youth gathered; but Glyzelle broke down in tears as she narrated her story and asked why people abuse children. She could not proceed. Pope Francis approached and offered a consoling and sincere embrace expressing they need not remain alone.
Jun and Glyzelle are now living in an orphanage founded and managed by Catholics. Pastoral agents found them in the street and offered them a welcoming place to live with other children whose only option before was to live in the streets. Both now attend school. Their story is just one among the millions of stories of children, not only in Manila, but in many other developing countries. The Catholic Church reaches out to millions of children like them all over the world. In his Mission Sunday Message Pope Francis says, ‘This is one way believers witness to the mercy of God as a Missionary Church.’
World Mission Sunday this year falls on 23 October 2016. It is a day of prayer to awaken every believer’s heart that God’s Mission is Our Mission. Our Mission theme this year, That all may have life (Jn 10:10), becomes a life-giving pursuit. Believe. Live. Give. 2016 is the 90th year of World Mission Sunday. For 90 years now, popes have requested all monetary collections made in Catholic churches all over the world on Mission Sunday be given to the Church’s missionary work in the young or needy dioceses of the world.
Jun and Glyzelle had a beautiful and profound fleeting moment when Pope Francis embraced them from the heart to comfort them of their past. They are not alone. Their ‘present’ will last them for a lifetime since they have been offered a home and education; they have been offered life. The Catholic Church offers a stepping stone to children like them to regain dignity and master their destiny as they also are introduced to the God who has sent his only Son Jesus that ‘all may have life’.
All believers are invited to ensure the merciful and life-giving mission of Jesus be kept alive in the many grateful hearts assisted by the Catholics. Prayer and your thanksgiving gift from the heart help to make this happen. As the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in New Zealand, I only have this prayer for you who celebrate Mission Sunday: ‘May only goodness and kindness follow you all the days of your life. And may God always attend to the prayers of your generous heart. God bless you.’
You can visit our website to donate online (www.missio.nz/donate).