Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – On Sunday, October 23 World Mission Day, established exactly 90 years ago, will be celebrated. In its plenary meeting in March 1926 in fact, the Superior Council of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith decided to ask Pope Pius XI for the establishment of a "Universal Mission Day", setting a Sunday "in particular the penultimate in October, as a day of prayer and missionary propaganda throughout the Catholic world". A month later, on April 14, 1926, Pope Pius XI expressed his approval. With the Pontificate of Pope Paul VI the custom of sending a special message to all the people of God began for this occasion. In some countries the celebration of World Mission Sunday is transferred to another date, for pastoral or organizational needs.
In his message for World Mission Sunday 1986, Pope John Paul II recalled the sixty years of World Mission Sunday with these words: "At the origin of this story, we find the genuine voice of a small portion of the People of God who, with its adherence to the Society for the Propagation of the faith, was able to proclaim the universal mission of the Catholic Church, because this, by its very nature, heads for the different local cultures, while never losing its profound identity, that is, to be the 'universal sacrament of salvation'. And, when the suggestion for the establishment of this Day reached the See of Peter, the promoter Pius XI welcomed it and immediately said: 'This is an idea that comes from heaven'. The initiative, entrusted to the Pontifical Mission Societies, in particular the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, have always had at heart to make the people of God conscious of the need to propose and support missionary vocations and the duty to cooperate spiritually and materially to the missionary cause of the Church".
Even Pope Francis, in his Message for World Mission Day 2016 emphasizes that "this Jubilee year marks the 90th anniversary of World Missionary Day. It is appropriate to recall the wise instructions of my Predecessors who ordered that to this Society be destined all the offerings collected in every diocese, parish, religious community, association and ecclesial movement throughout the world for the care of Christian communities in need and for supporting the proclamation of the Gospel even to the ends of the earth. Today too we believe in this sign of missionary ecclesial communion. Let us not close our hearts within our own particular concerns, but let us open them to all of humanity". (SL) (Agenzia Fides 21/10/2016)