“Soups and Sips: A Celebration of Mission” was held on World Mission Sunday in 2019 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. (File photo)

Since the earliest days of the Christian Church, when the faithful laid offerings of money at the feet of the apostles for distribution to the needy (Acts 4:34-35), financial stewardship has been more than just a rote action, dropping coins in a collection plate.

It has been, rather, an opportunity for grace, for communion and a chance to live out Christ’s most radical commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

So when the Archdiocese of Milwaukee takes up its Combined Collections each year in the spring and the fall, supporting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Collection Initiatives, it is a unique chance to embrace the universality of the Church — and the universality of the Church’s needs.

“We want to help people understand that we’re giving to a larger Church, and that we’re part of a larger Church,” said Bob Pfundstein, director of planned giving for the archdiocesan Office of Development.

The USCCB’s National Collection Initiatives supported by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s fall Combined Collection include World Mission Sunday, Catholic Home Missions, Catholic Relief Services, the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, and the Collection for the Works of the Holy Father: Peter’s Pence.

Here’s a brief breakdown of these crucial charities and the work they do around the globe:

● The World Mission Sunday Collection allows Catholics worldwide to support the financial needs of the global Church. All funds are used to encourage the faith in the 1100 mission dioceses.
● The Catholic Home Missions Collection supports essential pastoral programs in financially challenged dioceses and eparchies in the United States.
● The Catholic Relief Services Collection supports Catholic Church organizations that carry out international relief and solidarity efforts — from the resettlement of victims of war and religious persecution to legal services for immigrants, and countless other ministries in between.
● The Church in Central and Eastern Europe Collection supports the faith in 28 countries where Catholics have endured great hardship, from the historical oppression of the czars to the more recent threats of communism.
● The Collection for the Works of the Holy Father: Peter’s Pence supports victims of natural disaster, war, oppression and disease.

A different set of USCCB initiatives are supported by the Combined Collections taken up in the spring.

Spotlight on World Mission Sunday, Oct. 23

World Mission Sunday, instituted in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, calls for a celebration of the universal solidarity of Christians all over the world in the mission to evangelize the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“As Christians, we cannot keep the Lord to ourselves,” wrote Pope Francis in his message for last year’s World Mission Sunday. “The Church’s evangelizing mission finds outward fulfillment in the transformation of our world and in the care of creation.”

“World Mission Sunday is the one Sunday that the entire Church recognizes its missionary roots and prays for the ongoing efforts to evangelize throughout the world,” said Antoinette Mensah, director, World Mission Ministries, Office for World Mission and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

The celebration of this day is truly “Catholic” in scope, added Mensah. “While on a pilgrimage to Ghana, I witnessed how Catholics in this part of the world came forward in song, making donations to support the global Church.”

The theme of 2022 World Mission Sunday is derived from Acts 1:8: “You shall be my witnesses.”

“Through the Church’s missionary activity, we are all called to be a witness to God’s love and mercy,” said Mensah. “Our donations, large or small, help make a difference financially. Additionally, we witness God’s saving grace and mercy through prayerful support and solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific Islands.”