Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The celebration of World Mission Day "is a source of joy for the universal Church, even if within the local Churches it will be celebrated in a different way this year, due to the particular circumstances we are experiencing because of the Covid-19 pandemic". Despite everything "the Mission entrusted by Jesus to the Church never stops" and "we must not be afraid! The mission goes forward thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit". His Exc. Mgr. Protase Rugambwa, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, during the press conference he held at the Vatican Press Office in view of World Mission Day on Sunday, 18 October.
Presenting the Holy Father's Message for World Mission Day 2020 entitled "Here I am, send me", the Archbishop stressed that "the heart of this message refers to how the mission challenges each of us".
During the Extraordinary Missionary October last year the focus was on the theme "Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on mission in the world", and "this year we are called to give a concrete answer: "Here I am, send me", as prophet Isaiah replied, in order to carry out this 'mission'."
God who "sent" and sustained Jesus is the same who sends us through His Son and sustains us with the power of the Holy Spirit. "All of us baptized have received the power of the Holy Spirit as a gift through baptism and therefore called to be protagonists of this mission", declared Mgr. Rugambwa, who concluded by thanking the Holy Father for the missionary exhortation he offers us through the his message: "Today again, with him, we want to invite all the faithful to confirm once again their availability and their active participation in the evangelizing mission of the Church, which is ever more necessary and urgent".
The President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, then focused on the role of the Pontifical Mission Societies and on the Fund established in the name of the Holy Father to support local Churches in this time of pandemic. There is a long tradition, the collection of World Mission Day is intended for the Pontifical Mission Societies, which "have supported the missionary action of the Church for almost two centuries with prayer, charity and formation", underlined the Archbishop, highlighting that "at a universal level, the Churches of the whole world collaborate. It is not only a questiono f help from north to south, but a criterion of communion and circularity, in the framework of which all contribute to the good of all". The task of the PMS is to finance pastoral projects, and therefore inherent in the life of the Church which is slowly establishing its structures in the different parts of the globe.
Mgr. Dal Toso then focused on the Fund established in the name of the Holy Father to help the local Churches of mission territories during this period of pandemic. To date - he recalled - 250 projects have been approved and financed for a total of US $ 1,299,700 and € 473,410 euro. The funds come from collections made in various countries thanks to the national Directions of the Pontitficie Missionary Societies, that is to say about 120 in total. While churches in Spain, France and South Korea have made a larger contribution, countries such as Rwanda and Bangladesh have also carried out ad hoc collections to demonstrate their participation.
"The major problem that many Churches in mission territories found themselves facing - explained the Archbishop - was the closure of churches and therefore the absence to celebrate, and as a consequence no collection.
Many of these ecclesial realities live simply on the Sunday collection and do not have a central system of sustenance. Therefore the subsidies went strongly in favor of the dioceses to ensure the survival of priests and the payment of current expenses, but also in favor of religious communities, or Catholic schools, as well as for particularly tried families". The President of the PMS then cited three examples: help for a convent of cloistered nuns in Morocco; support for Christian families in Bangladesh; support for various radio and TV stations in Africa for the transmission of catechesis and liturgical celebrations. "These are very simple examples - he concluded -, which nevertheless make it possible to understand how much our action takes place in favor of many small hidden realities which often escape the large flows of aid".
Fr. Tadeusz J. Nowak, OMI, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, then illustrated the work of this Pontifical Society, aimed at ensuring "vital support" to the particular Churches of Asia, Oceania, Africa, and part of Latin America.
"This is a special year for the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith - he stressed. In fact on May 26, the Holy Father approved the miracle that occurred through the intercession of our foundress, Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot". Father Nowak then recalled the circumstances of the miracle in question, focusing on the life of Jaricot, who had the inspiration to organize a network of prayer and charity in support of the missions, which became the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. "Venerable Pauline dedicated her entire life to prayer, helping the poor, especially workers, and the mission of the Church. In 1826 she founded the Living Rosary, which continues to flourish in different parts of the world even today. In time, she spent her family's entire fortune on the poor, wishing to establish better working conditions for manual workers. Tragically, those to whom she had entrusted the family fortune embezzled the funds and she was forced to file for bankruptcy. In all her misfortunes, she never doubted God's providence and remained firm in prayer and care for others, especially for those who had not yet heard the Gospel or met Jesus Christ". Fr. Nowak concluded by highlighting that Venerable Pauline Jaricot "is today a source of inspiration for all of us, especially for the laity. This is a wonderful example of how to fully engage the grace of Baptism in favor of the work of the Kingdom of God and the mission of the Church". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 16/10/2020)