ASIA/CHINA - World Mission Sunday 2023: Catholic communities remember missionaries, who gave their lives to proclaim the Gospel

Monday, 23 October 2023 mission   world mission day   the elderly  

Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - Following in the footsteps of the missionaries of the past and with a view to the proclamation of the Gospel in today's China, many Catholic communities in mainland China intensely experienced World Mission Sunday, celebrated in the Catholic Church this year on October 22nd. This year, World Mission Sunday coincided with the feast of St. John Paul II and was also celebrated close to the traditional Chinese festival in honor of the elderly, the date of which varies from year to year based on the lunar calendar, and this year falls on Monday, October 23rd. For pastoral reasons, Catholic communities always choose the nearest Sunday in order to celebrate the festival at a church level and to honor the contribution of older people to family, community and social life. But the holy masses, prayer times and works of charity on World Mission Sunday should also express in various ways the special attention to older people and their physical and mental health. In the parish of Jiujiang in Jiangxi Province, parishioners who had just returned from a Marian pilgrimage (which took place from October 16 to 21 during the Rosary Month, under the theme "Encounter with the Lord") also celebrated World Mission Sunday with the sign of donations for the missions. "We must never forget the spirit of the missionaries," said Father Pang Rui, "especially the older missionaries of the previous generation. We must learn from them and bear witness to the faith in word and deed." The parishioners also prayed for peace in the world. After the mass, the priests administered the sacrament of anointing of the sick to the elderly people present. From Beijing to Shijiazhuang (Hebei Province) to Sanyuan (Shaanxi Province), congregations celebrated World Mission Sunday in memory of the missionaries who dedicated their lives to preaching the gospel in China. Many priests also visited older people in nursing homes and gave them the sacrament of communion and anointing of the sick. The festival of the Elderly, also known as Chongyang festival (the "double nine" festival), is celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar calendar. In its thousand-year history, Chinese culture has dedicated its own holiday to the elderly. The Catholic community not only has always preserved this tradition, but also celebrates it in the light of Holy Scripture: “The Father of the righteous rejoices loudly; whoever has a wise son can rejoice in him. May your parents rejoice, may the mother who bore you rejoice” (Proverbs 23:24-25). (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 23/10/2023)