World Mission Sunday holds special meaning for Tom Scheuring.
“My wife and I were married 50 years ago and we wanted to spend our life as a married couple serving the poor through the Catholic Church. That’s what we did for 50 years, by God’s grace,” said Scheuring, who was among the 2,000 people at World Mission Sunday Mass celebrated by Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Oct. 21.
Scheuring and his wife, Lyn, who died on Sept. 20, started Lay Apostolic Ministries with the Poor (LAMP) to serve the poor through Catholic evangelization in 1981. In 1999, LAMP was granted canonical status to affirm its Catholic identity under Cardinal John O’Connor, then Archbishop of New York.
“By God’s grace, we began LAMP Ministries to serve the poor with specific focus on their faith life,” Scheuring said. “It changes the direction of their lives when they discover that God loves them. We do that by visiting and praying with the homeless, people on the streets and people in these large city hospitals, there for the rest of their lives. We try and find the poor who aren’t being addressed.”
LAMP is one of the ministries serving the people of the archdiocese with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, directed by Msgr. Marc Filacchione, who was among the concelebrants at the Mass, along with Father Andrew Small, O.M.I., national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and Msgr. Robert Ritchie, rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
World Mission Sunday, celebrated each October, was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as a day of prayer for missions and missionaries. The Mass also marked the 165th anniversary of the archdiocese’s Society of the Propagation of the Faith.
In his homily, Cardinal Dolan, who recognized six permanent deacons at Mass celebrating their 25th anniversary of ordination, reminded the congregation what World Mission Sunday represents for all Catholics. “We realize today is Mission Sunday throughout the world, and we’re reminded of our obligation to be joyful missionary disciples,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Dolan shared stories to reflect on the day’s readings. One involved visiting a cancer patient at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. The woman had difficulty communicating with people, but she was able to do so with Cardinal Dolan, as he told her Jesus was present at that moment. The woman responded with a little smile, lifted her head and pointed at the crucifix in the room.
“She knew Jesus was there with us because what she was saying is he has gone through it as well,” he said. “That is our lesson from our readings today in the Bible.”
“In times of setback, sickness, darkness or adversity, oh my Lord, God is there as much as He’s so evident in times of joy and light and happiness.”
Melissa Gibbons, a parishioner of St. Thomas More in Manhattan, attended Mass with her 10-year-old son Charlie, a fifth-grader at St. Ignatius Loyola School.
“I thought it was so very true of our own lives when we’re struggling with jobs, commitments and raising children,” she said. “It’s not all beautiful every moment and God’s with us all the time.”
Ms. Gibbons was invited to the Mass by Msgr. Filacchione, whom she has known for 15 years. She said she appreciates the work being done by the missionaries of the archdiocese.
“I have so much admiration for them,” Ms. Gibbons said. “I believe in sharing our faith with the world. We love sharing our faith. I know we’re called to do that in small ways and large.”