Grace and peace be to you in the name of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is my joy as your bishop to invite you to this year’s celebration of World Mission Sunday in every parish in the Diocese of La Crosse. October, the month which reminds us that we are a missionary Church, begins with the great feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Although she lived behind the cloister walls, and died at a tender young age, this remarkable woman who consecrated her life to Christ as His humble bride, is the patroness of the Church’s worldwide missionary efforts. Her feast day, on October 1st always sees roses showering down from heaven to our great delight.
Then toward the end of the month, on the fourth Sunday, we celebrate World Mission Sunday. This is a time when we renew and proclaim our “yes” to Christ’s missionary mandate. I ask of you two things this world Mission Sunday. First, pray! When you gather for mass, please pray for missionaries; pray for the people in poverty they serve; pray for their courage in the dangers they face and for the strength they need in Christ.
This year, Pope Francis, in his message to us for World Mission Sunday, brings us along to the Road to Emmaus. In the midst of the Passover crowd, Jesus suffered and died on the cross. The understanding of his resurrection is, so far, just a doubt filled whisper among the faithful. Then, two disciples of Jesus appear. The message of the Pope takes us straight to the moment they recognize the Lord in the breaking of the bread. Their hearts were on fire, filled with the flame of love ignited by the biblical revelations Jesus explained to them. They jumped to their feet and ran back to the still dangerous city of Jerusalem to proclaim that they had seen the risen Lord.
Hearts on fire and feet on the move, as Francis puts it. That was them, and this is us. The church is in a new Apostolic Age, filled with urgency, fortitude and wisdom for today’s dangerous world. Please pray with renewed vigor this World Mission Sunday.
The second thing I want you to ask of you is for your financial contribution. This collection each year serves over 1100 dioceses and territories where Catholic worship and evangelization suffers under the conditions of poverty. Amazingly, they too take up the World Mission Sunday collection, and they share what little they have. But they need you and me to help them follow Christ’s example and command. Thank you for your prayer, for your sacrifices and your contributions to this year’s October celebration of World Mission Sunday.
May the name of Jesus Christ be present among the rich and the poor of every nation and people on Earth. And may God reward you with the abundance of your great response to Him. AMEN.