CATHOLIC HERALD STAFF
Obeying Christ’s mandate to go out and preach the good news is “not an option for the Church: in the words of the Second Vatican Council, it is her ‘essential task,’” Pope Francis wrote in a letter to Cardinal Fernando Filoni.
Every year during October, the worldwide Catholic Church celebrates mission month. This year, Pope Francis declared October 2019 Extraordinary Mission Month to revitalize, renew and reawaken the missionary call in a particular way.
The Gospel message is a call to action, missio ad gentes — mission to the nations, and through the Extraordinary Mission Month, Catholics are invited to intentionally rediscover this call in their own lives.
As a Church, evangelization is our vocation. “Faith is strengthened when it is given to others,” Pope Francis reminds us.
Thus, the challenge of evangelization “remains as urgent as ever,” he wrote.
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, the World Mission Office is hosting a “Soups and Sips” celebration of mission Oct. 20 among other opportunities to participate in mission activities locally.
Baptized and sent, the Church of Christ is on mission in the world, and the Pope has specified four dimensions to live out this invitation to rediscover the missionary call during October 2019 that will be featured at this event.
- Personal encounter with Jesus Christ alive in His Church.
- The witness of missionary saints and martyrs from around the world.
- Biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological formation for mission.
- Missionary charity.
The celebration will include Mass with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, witnesses from missionaries of the archdiocese, presentations from mission groups about their mission commitments, and a good cup of soup.
“Come to this event to hear about ways we are connecting globally,” said Antionette Mensah, director of the World Mission Ministries in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
No matter where in the world we may be, “mission doesn’t end,” Mensah said. We are the mission of the Church.
In Pope Francis’ words, “I am mission”— a call we all share. And we should “take our baptismal call seriously,” Mensah said.
“As Christians we have a responsibility to go out and evangelize, evangelization in the sense of sharing our faith.”
The mission of the mission month exists to remind Christians to open their hearts to the “joyful newness of the Gospel,” the Holy Father wrote.
The Extraordinary Mission Month serves “as an incentive to combat the recurring temptation lurking beneath every form of ecclesial introversion, self-referential retreat into comfort zones, pastoral pessimism and sterile nostalgia for the past,” Pope Francis said.
The inspired Word of God is living and its message to each person breathes truth into one’s current circumstances. The Gospel — hearing and experiencing God’s love and mercy — is something that changes us when we encounter it; and when we share it.
Being on mission, then, means sharing the Gospel with renewed fervor, and speaking to others about Christ in this way instills hope.
Pope Francis wrote, may “love for the Church’s mission … grow ever stronger!” during this time.
“May the Extraordinary Missionary Month prove an intense and fruitful occasion of grace, and promote initiatives and above all prayer, the soul of all missionary activity”
In addition to celebrations in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, dioceses around the world are organizing special events and activities for local Catholics to meet their neighbor and reinvigorate local mission zeal.
The activities this month commemorate the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s encyclical letter Maximum Illud, which rejected colonialism and encouraged the development of indigenous faith communities and the proliferation of true missionary activity.
“In this Extraordinary Mission Month, let us pray that the Holy Spirit may engender a new missionary spring for all those baptized and sent by Christ’s Church,” Pope Francis said.
Soups and Sips:
A Celebration of Mission
Oct. 20, World Mission Sunday, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Event will include:
9 a.m. Mass with Archbishop Listecki
Sips of international coffees and light refreshments after Mass and a selection of soups and breads in the afternoon.
Mission display, workshops, products and presentations
For more information, call 414-758-2280