Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - On the first day of the Missionary Month of October, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the International Secretariats of the Pontifical Mission Societies, recall that the pandemic has not stopped the mission of the Church or the journey towards World Mission Day.
The proclamation of the Gospel continues in every corner of the world. The preparation for World Mission Day, to be held on October 18, is underway in the local Churches of the five continents.
At the beginning of October, traditionally dedicated by the Church to missionary work, and on the occasion of the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, Patroness of the missions, His Exc. Msgr. Protase Rugambwa, Tanzanian Archbishop, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, observes: "The missionaries are there, alongside those who suffer, all the more with the impact of the global crisis. This is a favorable moment for the mission: we are called today to announce and give the love of God above all where there is suffering, misery, despair".
Talking about the time of preparation for World Mission Day, and the commitment guaranteed by the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) around the world, Archbishop Rugambwa, quoting Pope Francis' Message for World Mission Day, entitled «Here I am, send me» (Is 6,8), recalls that, "in a context profoundly marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, we must not be discouraged because mission is not the fruit of human capacity, but belongs to God: the Holy Spirit is its protagonist. The Lord takes the initiative, he sent his Son Jesus Christ and today he sends every baptized person".
In the difficulties caused by the pandemic around the world, generosity does not stop. In every continent, the commitment to raise awareness continues for the special collection of October 18 which will constitute the Universal Solidarity Fund that the Pontifical Mission Societies collect every year to carry out their work in support of the local Churches. In 2020, the contribution was also expressed through the special Emergency Fund set up by the Pope at the Pontifical Mission Societies, to help the communities affected by Covid-19.
In Africa meetings and moments of prayer and formation are being held, without forgetting the proclamation of the Word through the visit that so many missionaries and religious make to isolated villages. The commitment of this period is to guarantee an even more present and involving missionary animation, especially in the most remote areas.
In the Americas, where Mission Day has a fruitful and ancient tradition, the commitment of the PMS is considerable in the production of material for animation, both printed and shared on the web. With the intensification of the campaign on social media (see Colombia and Bolivia), the awareness of parishes, movements and associations has grown to remember the importance of personal offering as much as of prayer.
In Asia, local communities, touched by the virus, show a resilience rooted in faith: "Like the apostles on a boat, on a stormy sea: we say to the Lord: we are dying. In this pandemic we experience the loving presence of Christ and we raise praise to him, so that he does not abandon us", says Fr. Peter Susaimanickam, a priest of the diocese of Thanjavur, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. "This is the heart of the announcement we address to everyone in the missionary month".
In Oceania, the proclamation of the Gospel crosses the "maritime continent" and special missionary initiatives involve and see in particular young people as protagonists.
In Europe, the National Directions of the PMS have prepared paper and digital material to help Christian communities also live the personal dimension of mission: “Here I am, send me!”.
On a global level, the echo in terms of communication and mass media is remarkable, with real communication campaigns (see Canada, Switzerland, Australia) and thanks to live TV or radio for the day of October 18, as will happen in Poland, Spain, Malta and Ireland.
The Marian prayer of the Rosary, throughout the month of missionary October, broadcast via radio and on social media, will be prayed in thousands of communities, "at a distance" or "in person". In particular, on "Radio Maria" the "World Rosary" will be broadcast simultaneously on all Radio Maria stations in the world on 7 October, broadcast live from the sanctuary of Kibeho, in Rwanda.
The words of the Pope in the Message echo throughout the world: "The celebration of World Mission Day is also an occasion for reaffirming how prayer, reflection and the material help of your offerings are so many opportunities to participate actively in the mission of Jesus in his Church. The charity expressed in the collections that take place during the liturgical celebrations of the third Sunday of October is aimed at supporting the missionary work carried out in my name by the Pontifical Mission Societies, in order to meet the spiritual and material needs of peoples and Churches throughout the world, for the salvation of all".
Vatican City, 1 October 2020
Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux
(Agenzia Fides, 1/10/2020)