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World Mission Sunday
World Mission Sunday, organized by the Propagation of the Faitha Pontifical Mission Society, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church's missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice. Each year, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the next-to-last Sunday in October.
In his message for the 84thd World Mission Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI focused on how faith in Christ must lead Christians to build strong faith communities, which become signs for the world that it is possible for people of different races and cultures to live and thrive together.
To be missionaries today and respond to people's need for hope and their desire to live in a new way means "to become champions of the newness of life made up of authentic relationships in communities founded on the Gospel," the Holy Father said.
"In a multiethnic society that is experiencing increasingly disturbing forms of loneliness and indifference, Christians must learn to offer signs of hope and to become universal brethren, cultivating the great ideals that transform history and, without false illusions or useless fears, must strive to make the planet a home for all peoples," the pope's message said. The world needs God's love, which people encounter in Christ.
Every Catholic has an obligation to participate in the church's missionary outreach in their own families and communities and by supporting foreign missions, the pope noted. "I therefore renew to everyone the invitation to pray and, despite financial difficulties, to offer fraternal and concrete help" to support the churches in missionary lands and the pontifical missionary societies, which fund the training of priests and catechists and the education of children, he wrote.
As described by Pope John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is "an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world" (see Redemptoris Missio 81).
World Mission Sunday gathers support for the pastoral and evangelizing programs and needs of more than 1,100 mission dioceses in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and remote regions of Latin America. The funds gathered on World Mission Sunday are distributed in the popes name by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow -- as new dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of young men hearing Christ's call to follow Him as priests, as areas devastated by war or natural disaster are rebuilt, and as other areas, long suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and His Church. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics from around the world is so urgently needed. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith worldwide.
Fr. Robert Bissot, Diocesan Director for the Propagation of the Faith, noted, World Mission Sunday gives all of us an opportunity to broaden our vision of church and join in prayer and financial support in our Churchs worldwide missionary endeavors in solidarity with our Holy Father and the whole Church. The diocese continues to rank high in the country in its generosity to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, he added. He asked parish leadership to encourage 100% participation, no matter how small or large a gift is given.
Mission dioceses receive regular annual assistance from the funds collected. In addition, these mission dioceses submit requests to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for assistance, among other needs, for catechetical programs, seminaries, the work of Religious Communities, for communication and transportation needs, and for the building of chapels, churches, orphanages and schools. These needs are matched with the funds gathered in each year. The world's national directors of the Propagation of the Faith vote on these requests, matching the funds available with the greatest needs. These funds are then distributed, in their entirety, to mission dioceses throughout the world.
Click here to read the Holy Fathers entire message for World Mission Sunday.