Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - With the liturgical memorial of Saint Teresa of Lisieux, proclaimed, by Pope Pius XI, Patroness of the missions like Saint Francis Xavier, the month of October, Missionary Month, begins, which will see the celebration of the 95th World Mission Day on Sunday, 24th. The theme chosen by Pope Francis in the message issued on the solemnity of the Epiphany is from the Acts of the Apostles: "We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). The Holy Father writes: "Like the Apostles and the first Christians, we too can say with complete conviction: "We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Everything we have received from the Lord is meant to be put to good use and freely shared with others. Just as the Apostles saw, heard and touched the saving power of Jesus (cf. 1 Jn 1:1-4), we too can daily touch the sorrowful and glorious flesh of Christ. There we can find the courage to share with everyone we meet a destiny of hope, the sure knowledge that the Lord is ever at our side".
A note released by the International Secretariats of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) declares, also through the Press Office of the Holy See: Witnessing is the leitmotif of the message whose theme is taken from what Pope Francis defines as "a book that missionary disciples always keep close at hand". "Celebrating Missionary Month and World Mission Day every year means remembering the fact that our faith is always missionary. We cannot but speak about what we have heard, seen and experienced in the encounter with the Lord", remarks Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS).
Witnessing is accompanied by memory because on World Mission Day which is celebrated every year, on the penultimate Sunday of October, the Pope underlines: "We recall with gratitude all those men and women who by their testimony of life help us to renew our baptismal commitment to be generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel. Let us remember especially all those who resolutely set out, leaving home and family behind, to bring the Gospel to all those places and people athirst for its saving message".
No one is excluded from God's mercy and the missionaries, who share their lives with the faithful entrusted to them, also remember this in the video message born from the collaboration between some National Directions of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the world. The video, in several languages, gives voice to thousands of women and men on mission in the world: "We are still here and we cannot help but speak about what we have seen and heard".[ the link to access and share the video in different languages]
In the meantime, initiatives for formation, prayer and animation to prepare and celebrate World Mission Day are underway in the world, despite the pandemic, which in some countries is still hitting hard.
In the Americas, the continental coordination of the Pontifical Mission Societies has prepared formation material, prayer schemes for liturgical animation, themes for reflection that are the fruit of the common work of the National Directions of the PMS on the continent.
In Africa, the Church of Uganda is increasingly making use of new media, which have kept the Christian community united during the lockdown, both in terms of missionary animation and prayer. In Tanzania some influential people and some lay leaders have been chosen to broadcast the message of Mission Day on Radio and TV.
Turning to Europe, the Missionary Month in Switzerland is an opportunity to get closer to the Church in Vietnam, while in Spain World Mission Day is known by the acronym Domund and reminds the faithful that "we are all missionaries" [the link is https://domund.es]
In Asia, where the pandemic situation is still very complex, the PMS in Vietnam are committed to concretely helping the population affected by the virus, they are preparing animation materials, planning various online prayer initiatives.
On the oceanic continent, in Australia, the Day will be lived with particular attention and sensitivity towards the pastoral and missionary work of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Thailand, in support of children from vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Alongside all the activities dedicated to the Missionary Month, on the PMS website, www.ppoomm.va, an in-depth study dedicated to the foundress of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the venerable Pauline Jaricot, will be published every day from October 1st, entitled: “Getting to know Pauline Maria Jaricot better and meditating on the mission of the Church”.
(Agenzia Fides, 30/9/2021)