The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stories Told, Lessons Learned

Whenever I speak about mission work done for children because of the Holy Childhood Association, I start by telling students a story. Recently, the Religious Education students at Holy Family Parish in Duxbury, MA heard a story about some average, ordinary people (we’ve come to know them as Jesus’ Apostles) who were busy trying to live their normal lives when they met a Man who changed everything.

After their encounters, they left their homes to follow their new Friend, eager to hear His every word and be a witness to His every action. He sent them off to faraway places to share the message of God’s love with everyone they encountered. In doing so, Jesus asked them to give up their comfortable homes, their way of life, and even their family and friends to embrace perfect strangers, bringing them closer to God.

They became missionaries.

I gave the students homework – isn’t it awful? Homework – from a guest speaker! Go home, I told them, and with your parents, go online and find Jerusalem on the map; then find Rome. That’s where St. Peter ended up! Can anyone locate Turkey (then called Asia Minor)? St. Paul went there. Next, look for India. St. Thomas went all the way to India to preach the Good News! They took Jesus’ last words to “Go to the ends of the earth and preach my gospel…” very seriously!

Sometimes, the students are surprised that God is still calling people to this work; average, ordinary people are still listening to Him when He says “GO!” These missionaries need our prayers and sacrifices.

Through the Holy Childhood Association, our children are empowered to take responsibility for their part in this vital work. They come to understand that without their help, children in Zambia may not eat, little ones in Ecuador may have no health care and their counterparts in Haiti may not go to school.

That last part can sound fun for our kids. No school - what do they do? Go to the beach or have play dates? When I explain that many of the children work, even at the age of 5 or 6 or that sometimes they spend their days scavenging the garbage for food for their families, suddenly the shine of that idea wears off.

When the story is told, our children learn important lessons. Sometimes, they only need a little homework!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reflections on World Mission Sunday 2010

On October 24, 2010, the Archdiocese of Boston, together with every archdiocese and diocese in the world, celebrated World Mission Sunday. On that day, we honor countless priests, sisters, brothers, deacons, and lay people who take to heart the command of Jesus to “go forth and teach all nations.” We were fortunate to have Cardinal Sean as the celebrant of the liturgy. He was joined by fifteen priests from the Archdiocese and from various missionary congregations.

We also welcomed a veteran missionary Bishop, The Most Reverend Donald Pelletier, MS, a LaSalette Father who has worked in Madagascar for over fifty years.

Representing the Eastern Catholic Churches was Reverend Georges El-Khalil, PhD, the Maronite pastor of Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon Parish in Jamaica Plain, MA. Our celebration of the Eucharist at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston brought people of various ethnic backgrounds together to pray as one community of faith. Readings were proclaimed in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Music was provided by the Korean Catholic Community Choir of Boston, The Cape Verdean Choir from Saint Edith Stein Parish in Brockton, and the choir from Saint Peter Lithuanian Parish in South Boston. The General Intercessions were read in Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Lithuanian, Portuguese and English, representing the universality of our faith.

We are grateful to the ninth and tenth grade religious education students from Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Waltham, MA where I serve as pastor. They provided wonderful assistance to the staff of our office in setting up the Cathedral High School gymnasium, handing out programs in the church, and working as servers at the reception following the Mass.

In his homily, Cardinal Sean reminded us that, for the first one hundred years of our history as an Archdiocese, Boston was considered “missionary territory.” He told us that Bishop Benedict Fenwick, the second bishop of Boston, had written numerous letters to Archbishop Cheverus, the Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux, to thank the Catholics of France for their support of the fledgling Church in Boston. Archbishop Cheverus had been the first bishop of Boston and knew well the needs of the Church here.
World Mission Sunday in the Archdiocese of Boston was truly a celebration of God’s goodness and generosity, enabling us to reflect on the gift of our own faith, and prompting us to share it with others in whatever way God invites us to do so.

Rev. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L.