Vatican City (Fides Service) – The Feast of St Therese of Lisieux 1873-1897 proclaimed patroness of missions with St Francis Xavier in 1927, marks opening of missionary month of October which will culminate on World Mission Sunday held in most countries on the penultimate Sunday of the month. Mission Sunday is celebrated in local Churches all over the world. It is a day to remember missionaries, to pray for them, and to realise that every Christian is called to the mission of sharing the Good News of the Gospel with everyone, near and far and to supprt the Church's missionary activity with prayers and offerings. The choice of the month of October as the missionary month was made because it was the month in which in 1492 the new continent of America was discovered and this marked the beginning of a new page in evangelisation.
In Italy, four special themes for reflection are assigned to each week of October: 1) missionary prayer, Liturgy of the Word, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of missionary rosary; 2) offering of suffering for missions (acts of penance, visiting the sick); 3) mission collections especially on this third Sunday, Mission Sunday; 4) thanksgiving for the gift of the faith and prayers for missionary vocations. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 1/10/2003 – lines 19 ; words 232)