Kairos: Volume 18, Issue 19
World Mission Sunday takes place this year on Sunday 21 October. In the past it was a day when we prayed for missionaries who were working in far away lands ‘preaching the good news to the pagans.’ We contributed to the Mission collection taken up at Mass and then went home having done our bit for the cause. Today, it is a time for all Catholics to be reminded of their calling to be people of the Gospel, ready to share it with others.
Today things have changed a lot. There are fewer Australian missionaries working in overseas places. There are many vibrant Christian communities in these once far away lands who are served by their own local priests, brothers, sisters and lay leaders. These communities are the fruits of the former missionaries’ love, care and hard work and the mysterious power of God’s Spirit. They still need our prayerful support and our financial help, but they are fully-fledged Churches centered around their bishops and joined to the rest of us in the communion of Christ united together throughout the world.
One might then ask: where do we go from here?
The answer may be that we in the more established Church communities have to examine ourselves and see what it means to be an active Catholic. Our membership in the Church commissions each one of us to be a person of mission. We have to let go of the idea that a ‘missionary’ is only someone sent somewhere else to preach the Gospel. We have to see that we are all missionaries in our local setting.
There is plenty for us to do in our own country as missionaries. To be an active Christian now is becoming more and more counter-cultural. Younger committed members of our parish communities experience this as they mix with their equals at work, at places of learning and places of recreation and leisure. To be a Christian means automatically to be a missionary. It’s a lesson our young people can teach us as they prepare for World Youth Day in Sydney next year. Their enthusiasm can stir the rest of us.
World Mission Sunday, 21 October, is being celebrated in our parishes and school communities this month. On Thursday 25 October many of our school children will come together at 11am to celebrate the Children’s Mission Mass with Bishop Christopher Prowse at St Patrick’s Cathedral, East Melbourne. Both of these occasions are opportunities to make us more aware of our own personal missionary calling and also of our union with our fellow like-minded Christians in the rest of the world.
Fr Patrick Harvey is the Director of Catholic Mission, Melbourne.
Catholic Mission Fast Facts
Catholics in Australia
- According to the 2006 Census there are 5,126,882 Catholics in Australia.
- The total number of donors who have given to Catholic Mission at least once since 1 January 2006 is 30,748.
Programs Australia is sending funding to in 2007
- Partnering Local Churches and Communities: Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Tarawa-Nauru and Noumea.
- Caring for Children: Angola, Chad, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Equador, Haiti, Honduras, The Philippines, India, Myanmar, Albania, Solomon Islands, and Vietnam.
- Fostering Local Church Leadership: Thailand, Papua New Guinea and India.
Recycling is a key message in Port Elizabeth
There are no handouts in Missionvale Port Elizabeth in South Africa. Instead, the people of the surrounding villages are asked to bring something to be recycled to then receive bread and soup powder in return. This not only increases their self worth, but assists with building a stronger sense of community, involvement and achievement.
The latest project that the villagers are working on is wood packing pallets, where men and women pull pallets apart and then make outdoor benches and tables out of them (shown right). Everything is reused – even the nails! This is a project that the people of Missionvale have just recently embarked on, and they are looking for an outlet to sell them to make money.
The project in Missionvale is run by the Little Company of Mary Sisters. Currently, there is an HIV/AIDS clinic, school, recycling projects and assistance with food parcels to name a few.
Wood packing pallet recycling is just one of the many projects that Catholic Mission supports around the world through their work of Partnering Local Churches and Communities.
Youth in mission -
Care for creation, care for neighbour
The theme for World Mission Day this year is ‘Youth in Mission: Care for Creation, Care for Neighbour.’ As we prepare for World Youth Day in 2008, Catholic Mission is highlighting the fantastic mission work of young people around the world, particularly in their own communities.
Almost every challenge facing God’s creation today – pollution, deforestation, falling biodiversity, global warming – has its roots in social imbalance and a lack of care for each other. Where there is ecological degradation it is the poor and most vulnerable who suffer first and worst.
Catholic Mission supports thousands of projects around the world, in particular many projects that help care for creation. By helping people in communities we often help the environment as well. Recently in Aitape, Papua New Guinea, Catholic Mission helped install six solar panels for six mission stations in remote areas. For these people this is the only way they can access electricity and are able to communicate with their bishop and local Church communities.
There are many ways you can celebrate World Mission Month 2007. One of the simplest is wearing a sticker: ‘I care for creation,’ or ‘I care for my neighbour.’ Stickers have been produced this year for students or anyone else in the community who wants to proclaim their support for Catholic Mission and World Mission Month.
The best way you can celebrate World Mission Day is by making a donation to Catholic Mission. Your money will help thousands of communities in 160 countries around the world by helping to provide everyday essentials like healthcare, nutrition, education and spiritual support.
Freecall 1800 257 296 or visit www.catholicmission.org.au to donate online.