Msgr. Marc Filacchione, archdiocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, conveyed to the faithful that the work of the Church’s missionaries is centered on bringing the love of Christ to the world’s many nations and cultures.
He shared that sentiment as principal celebrant at the World Mission Sunday Mass Oct. 22 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral before a congregation of approximately 2,000 people.
The principal concelebrants included Msgr. Robert Ritchie, rector of the cathedral, and Father Andrew Small, O.M.I., national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, who delivered the homily.
“We celebrate the works of all missionaries—they are the people who have taken the time to learn the language and the culture of the people they serve,” Msgr. Filacchione said at the beginning of the 10:15 a.m. liturgy, alluding to the global essence of the cathedral, which attracts “people from all over the world.”
He also acknowledged the importance of serving the Lord “with sincerity of heart.”
The Mass recognizes the service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, which consists of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. Their purpose is to promote a universal missionary spirit among all Catholics.
Father Small heads the four New York-based societies in the United States and oversees the World Mission Sunday collection, taken up annually on the next-to-last Sunday in October.
In his homily, Father Small spoke of the cathedral being “a special place of pilgrimage” for people who span the globe, people who come and “just marvel at its epic beauty.”
“You don’t have to go halfway around the world” to carry out missionary work, Father Small said. It can be done within one’s own region, within one’s own community, he said.
“We give thanks on this Mission Sunday,” Father Small said in expressing gratitude for all the good works of the Church’s missionaries, whether “in Spain, Mexico, Angola, Ireland or New York...World Mission Sunday reminds us what it means to be Catholic.”
All baptized Catholics are, in essence, missionaries, he added, and offered three suggestions to guide the endeavor: know that you are not alone; ask the Lord for strength here and now; be grateful for God’s gift of life and the people in it.
In alluding to the global nature of missionary work, he recalled being in Angola and meeting Catholic missionaries he had assumed were Portuguese, but later learned they were from Mexico.
Petitions for the Prayer of the Faithful included all missionaries and their work “to tell the Glory of the Lord to the world,” for “an increase in our own missionary spirit” and for an increase in religious vocations.
Many missionaries sat in the front pews, where they were recognized and honored with words of thanks from Msgr. Filacchione and Father Small.
Among them was Martha E. Martinez, who serves at the Marist International Community in East Harlem.
“I am grateful for all the support—the Church’s support for all of us who do missionary work,” Ms. Martinez told CNY after the Mass. “This special occasion unites us all; we are united in our vocation for Christ...I have done missionary work in France, in Africa, and in other countries—and now I am a missionary here in New York...Estamos con la comunidad Marista (We are with the Marist community).”
Ms. Martinez, who was born in Mexico, said that early in her adulthood she felt the call from God to go forth and “announce His Word.”
Also sitting with fellow Church missionaries was Brother Luis Vega, F.M.S. A Marist brother, he too is serving at the Marist International Community in East Harlem.
“We do a lot of work with the immigrant community,” Brother Vega said. “I felt the call years ago to enter this vocation, to do works in the name of Jesus, and in the name of Mary.”
He appreciated the global message conveyed in the homily, “a message of international unity and of cultural and spiritual sharing.”
A native of Paraguay, Brother Vega said his mission work has been primarily in Bolivia and New York.
World Mission Sunday enables attention to be focused on the needs and works of the Church in developing countries throughout the world. The Catholic Church’s more than 1,100 mission dioceses rely on the prayers, personal sacrifice and generous support of Catholics in every corner of the globe.