In a small shack in rural Jamaica, 11 timid Catholics from the Archdiocese of Edmonton listened while Miss Ivy prayed for them. Miss Ivy, formerly the pillar of her small Catholic parish, had been paralyzed years earlier as she rode home from church on a donkey. With her foot caught in the stirrup, she was dragged until the animal finally stopped. Now, from the dilapidated bed that is her permanent dwelling place (except for occasional visits to the doctor), she blesses the “missionaries” who have come to visit. A few gifts are left for

Miss Ivy. Few eyes are dry. Who is the missionary?

In his message for World Mission Day in The Year of Faith, Pope Francis described a world characterized by “widespread mobility and facility of communication” in which peoples, cultures, and experiences have been mingled. He spoke of areas that have never heard the Gospel of Jesus, and of other areas, formerly Christian, that have become “indifferent to the religious dimension or animated by other beliefs.”

He noted: “In this complex situation, where the horizon of the present and future paths seem threatened by menacing clouds, it is necessary to proclaim with courage in all realities, the Gospel of Christ, which is a message of hope, reconciliation, communion, and proclamation of God’s closeness, of his mercy, his salvation…”

In speaking about the missionary mandate, His Holiness stated emphatically: “The Church – I repeat once again – is not a relief organization, an enterprise or an NGO, but a community of people, animated by the Holy Spirit, who have lived and are living the wonder of the encounter with Jesus Christ and want to share this experience of deep joy, the message of salvation that the Lord gave us.”

Archbishop Smith, commenting on the upcoming World Mission Sunday collection, said: “In this Year of Faith, we are reminded that through Baptism, we are all called to spread the Gospel of Jesus. We do this every day by the way we show love to God and our neighbours. Not all of us are able to bring the Gospel to the far reaches of the world where the Gospel has not yet been heard. Yet we can all support the missionaries who work in these places – the holy men and women who witness the Gospel by their heroic
efforts in the most difficult circumstances.”

Donations raised during the World Mission Sunday collection in Canada have been used to spread the Gospel in some of the world’s poorest regions. Churches, convents, and health care facilities have been built in Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka. Funds have also been used to train catechists, and produce faith documentaries and youth programs.

The World Mission Sunday collection will take place on the weekend of October 19-20. Please be generous.

In Christ,

Deacon Pat Hessel,
Office of Missions