A network of Catholic communities
joined in mission and outreach
Annual Mission Sunday
in October: RESOURCES

UPDATED: Friday, October 27, 2000

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Mission Sunday


  • Introduction
  • World Mission Gathering 2000 in Rome
  • Mission Sunday: Background and Purpose
  • 1. Mission Sunday Messages of Pope John Paul II
  • 2. 1998 Email Discussion
  • 3. International Planning and Celebrating
  • 3a. Using the book Jesus, Source of Life for All
  • 3b. Mission Stories and Anecdotes New!
  • 4. Mission Sunday 2000: Planning Ideas  UPDATED 9/28/2000
  • 5. Helpful Links
  • 6. Join Our Discussion List

  • Introduction

    It is no secret that World Mission Sunday, observed globally on the next to last Sunday of each October, is regarded as a big pain by some parish leaders, ignored altogether by some parishes, observed with a token extra collection by others . . . and celebrated very wonderfully by still others. The goal of this web page is to help you make Mission Sunday a wonderful experience in YOUR parish!

    We invite your participation in the global2000@egroups.com discussion list, private email to the moderators, links to relevant parish or diocesan websites, or whatever you are ready to contribute to help U.S. parishes really make something of this annual observance.

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    Mission Sunday:
    Background and Purpose

    While World Mission Sunday becomes essentially what any given parish or diocese makes of it, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith is the primary organizer of this annual observance. The following website information may be helpful:

    Society for the Propagation fo the Faith - World Mission Sunday

    Logo of Society for Propagation of the Faith (USA)

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    Pope John Paul's
    Mission Sunday Messages

    Pope John Paul II

    Pope John Paul II's "Message for World Mission Sunday 2000" may be read, saved or printed from HTML, with some also offered in Microsoft Word format:

  • English
  • Español (HTML)
  • Français (HTML)
  • Deutsch (HTML)
  • Swahili
  • Swahili and English
  • 1999 Message (English)
  • 1998 Message (English)
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    From past eMail Discussion

    1. From Fr. Joseph Healey, Tanzania:

    Dear Friends,
    As we complete our celebration of the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend we start looking ahead to the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time on 18 October, 1998. This day will also be World Mission Sunday. In addition to other homily materials available I share the following thoughts.

    1. World Mission Sunday (celebrated annually on the next to last Sunday of October) is a wonderful occasion to reflect on the 1997 USA bishops' statement entitled "Called to Global Solidarity: International Challenges for USA Parishes:" The section on "One Human Family" states:

    "Beyond differences of language, race, ethnicity, gender, culture, and nation, we are one human family. Whether at World Youth Day, on World Mission Sunday, or in the daily celebration of the liturgy, the Church gathers people of every nation, uniting them in worship of the one God who is maker and redeemer of all. In so doing, the Church attests to the God-given unity of the human family and the human calling to build community."

    The "Appendix: a Framework for Parish Global Solidarity" offers some excellent practical suggestions to strengthen parish commitment to global solidarity.

    2. Pope John Paul II's "1998 Message for World Mission Sunday" was issued on 30 May, 1998. The text and related materials can be downloaded from these and other Web Sites:

    Vatican (Holy See) Web Site
    US Society for the Propagation of the Faith

    One of the main themes of this year's message is that "the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of the whole of the Church's mission 'ad gentes'" -- a very relevant theme during this 1998 -- the Year of the Holy Spirit.

    3. Moving beyond the mission collection aspect, World Mission Sunday can be a wonderful opportunity for mission education, mission awareness and the experience of being part of the World Church.

    * * *

    2. From Barb Darling, Colorado

    At my parish - a large, financially comfortable suburban Denver parish - Mission Sunday wasn't mentioned in the homily. The prayers of the faithful referred to missions. Our parish is somewhat unique in the large picture in that 14% of every week's offerings are committed to "outreach". And that the last two Sundays there were food bank collections and Indian mission clothing drive. And we extensively support an African mission founded by one of our local deacons.

    But the thing that disturbs me is that we have a committee to deal with "outreach" to missions and other worthy causes. That leaves the average Jane and Joe in the pew to think that it's not theirs to be concerned about. Other than the one or two wonderful homilies from the aforementioned deacon - we're rarely challenged from the pulpit to think globally - universal church, etc.

    I'm wondering how (if) that will change?

    3. Response by Fr. Joe Healey:

    I share two reflections on messages that has been recently posted to the list on World Mission Sunday.

    1. Barb Darling writes: "But the thing that disturbs me is that we have a committee to deal with "outreach" to missions and other worthy causes. That leaves the average Jane and Joe in the pew to think that it's not theirs to be concerned about."

    I certainly agree with Barb. In East Africa we have tried to get around this by encouraging each Small Christian Community (SCC) in the parish to have an "Outreach Committee" so that many more people participate on the grassroots level. This kind of committee can take many forms: outreach to the sick, poor, lax Catholics, the unevangelized, etc. Art Baranowski recommends this grassroots approach in his suggestions for restructuring a parish according to a SCC Model of Church.

    2. I have always been uncomfortable with the word "missions" (in the plural). It is often used in official church documents such as "Send Money to the Missions" and the "Missions Committee." In my view many people understand the word "missions" (in the plural) in a geographical sense. That is, the "missions" are out there or over there, mainly referring to poor countries in the Third World.

    A newer theology of mission is that of "Mission to Six Continents." Here mission is more situational than geographical. Mission can take place in New York as well as Nairobi. Each country is both a receiving church and a sending church -- an important step in the development of an authentic World Church. A unique dimension of mission is overseas mission or "ad gentes" mission.

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    International Observances

    Hong Kong, China

    From Fr. Charlie Dittmeier, October 22, 1998

    The diocese has traditionally had a large Mission Sunday celebration on Sunday afternoon here in Hong Kong. They use a big football stadium. This year they tried a different approach and had three smaller celebrations instead of one large one. Saturday evening was in Cantonese for the youth, and they attracted 4,000. Sunday morning was for the "international" crowd and done in English, and that attracted 2,000. Sunday afternoon was the main event for the greater Cantonese-speaking church, and that drew 8,000. All three gatherings were in a smaller 12,000-seat stadium.

    The program lasted 2:45 hours on Sunday afternoon when I attended. It started with a 200-member youth choir providing some music accompanied by costumed school children doing interpretive movements. Then there was some witnessing by lay people and then the main liturgy followed. My opinion was that it was still too verbal and too long (especially since I couldn't follow most of the Cantonese!)

    One interesting point was that the homilist was a westerner, a member of an Italian mission group, instead of a local priest. He did quite a good job and definitely had the crowd with him. I guess his selection was supposed to illustrate the idea of going out to others.

    Celebration of World Mission Sunday
    at St. Peter's Parish, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
    on 24 October, 1999

    During the Eucharistic liturgies in both Swahili and English at St. Peter's Parish, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on 24 October, 1999 we used: special missionary readings for this Year A (Jonah 3:10 and 4:11, 1 Timothy 2:1-8 and Matthew 28:16-20); lively missionary songs; and the Mass for the Spread of the Gospel (also called the Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples). Highlights included:

    1. At two of the Swahili liturgies during the homily the children of the Pontifical Mission Society of Holy Childhood acted out the Gospel reading from Matthew especially the words "Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations:" First "Jesus" sent the (children) apostles two by two to the five continents of Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America to preach the Good News of Salvation. Then in five short scenes the two apostles each said "Peace be with the people of the _________ continent" and then quoted from the teachings of Jesus and the apostles while holding a Bible over their heads. In the final scene all the (children) apostles gathered together in front of a lighted candle symbolizing "Christ the Light of the World" and sang a missionary song with clapping and dancing.

    2. The theme of homily of the English liturgy was "Each person can be the match that lights the missionary fire." It emphasized two special features: First, the missionary spirit of the recently deceased Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the Father of the Nation of Tanzania, who was truly a citizen of the world as he proclaimed justice, peace, equality and reconciliation everywhere. Second, celebrating World Mission Sunday for the last time before the next millennium is both a special blessing and a special opportunity. Pope John Paul II's "Message for 1999 World Mission Sunday" focuses on the "Our Father" as a missionary prayer. The pope also states:

    "Mission Sunday offers each of us an opportunity to put more emphasis on our common missionary vocation which leads Christ's disciples to become apostles of his Gospel of reconciliation and peace. The mission of salvation is universal -- for every person and for the whole person. It is a task which involves the entire People of God, all the faithful. Mission must therefore be the passion of every Christian; a passion for the salvation of the world and ardent commitment to work for the coming of the Father's kingdom."

    In 1999 we celebrate the 200-year anniversary of the birth of Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot who helped to found the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. In emphasizing that everyone is called to be a missionary in his or her local situation, she said: "Each person can be the match that lights the missionary fire."

    3. The English Liturgy included various missionary features: the special "Prayers of the Faithful" were prepared and read by people from different countries around the world including Tanzania, India, Philippines, Ireland and the United States. Each person in the congregation was invited to say the "Our Father" in his or her home (or heart) language to signify the new Pentecost in the next millennium and to show that we are called to proclaim the Gospel to all people in all languages. The Exchange of Peace was a reminder that we are called to be peacemakers in our local situations and to pray for peace in the many war-torn countries of Africa and throughout the world.

    Rev. Joseph G. Healey, M.M.
    Chairperson -- Mission Awareness Committee (MAC)
    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
    Email: JGHealey@aol.com

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    Planning for Mission Sunday 2000

    This section is what we can make of it TOGETHER
    during September and early October 2000.

    Dan F. Onley (PAA, Florida):

    I'll kick us off with my own ideal of how I would try to get any parish psyched up about Mission Sunday. I would make the main "pitch" via homily and some vestibule/gathering-space international displays two weekends beforehand. This year, we're talking about starting on Saturday-Sunday, October 7-8.

    I'd also make full use of the parish's internet resources, whether links to the parish itself, to the diocese, or to mission-focused sites which you recommend. (Particularly THIS one!) And good use of the weekly bulletin.

    Then, on the following Sunday or weekend, October 14-15, I would gently reinforce the World Mission theme with both homily remarks, noticeably freshened vestibule displays, plus new take-home literature of some kind. Such literature can be produced by the parish or diocese, or obtained well in advance from organizations such as Catholic Relief Services or the missionary group of your choice.

    On the World Mission weekend itself, I would restate in homilies some key global outreach themes articulated by our own bishops and would call attention from the pulpit to festive and informative parish displays about global mission, with baskets for collecting contributions. I would be very cautious about doing a "second collection." Our real goal is building mission awareness, not trapping a few folks into shelling out an extra $5 before getting out of Mass.

    Mid-late October is very busy time for many USA families -- school, sports, grabbing a last bit of Indian Summer, getting ready for winter, and even thinking about Christmas. About two weeks devoted to "mission awareness-raising" seems just about right.

    The proposition is that, if people are invited into a thoughtful process about Mission which spans about two weeks, they will respond with interest, enthusiasm . . . and generosity.

    We use "processes" all the time to help parish members address various issues of Catholic living. The best processes are those which truly respect where people really are, at that time, and the value of their own time!

    Fr. Joe Healey (Tanzania):

    A suggestion that I have is to think of the whole of October as "Missionary Month." This is especially appropriate during this Jubilee Year 2000. We are celebrating 2000 years of Christianity and we are also celebrating 2000 years of Christian missionary activity. Think of the billions of people who have lived and died on this planet earth. They did not see "this" day. Yet we are blessed and privileged to be living now, blessed and privileged to see this year 2000. In his 2000 Message for World Mission Sunday (22 October, 2000) Pope John Paul II states: "The Jubilee is a favorable time for the whole Church to work, thanks to the Spirit, with new missionary impulse … the prospective of the Great Jubilee, which we are celebrating, induces us to ever greater missionary commitment ad gentes."

    Some highlights during October can be:

    1. Sunday, 1 October, 2000 is the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux who is the Patroness of Mission. On this day in Rome will take place the canonization of Mother Katherine Drexel from Philadelphia who was the foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Sister Josephine Bakhita (a Canossian Sister from Sudan) who is the first modern African woman saint.

    2. The climax will be the celebration of World Mission Sunday on 22 October, 2000 that will be the official "Jubilee of Missionaries." In his 2000 Message for World Mission Sunday Pope John Paul II states: "Celebrating the Jubilee of the Holy Year 2000, the whole Church is even more committed to a new missionary advent. We must increase our apostolic zeal to pass on to others the light and the joy of the faith."

    3. Throughout the month of October we can emphasize the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the missionary outreach of Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and other parish and apostolic groups and other local and international outreach programs and projects (for example, "twinning").

    Fr. Bill Vos (St. Cloud, MN):

    The Social Concerns committee (which doubles as the mission awareness group) of one of the parishes I pastor will be looking at the entire month of October as "mission month". Their plans for openers are presently focused mostly on the social justice areas (i.e. not evangelization in the more classic sense of "mission") What they have in place now include: People are signed up to work display tables after each Mass throughout the month. The displays will include info materials as well as some action (e.g. letter to legislators, volunteer opportunities, etc.). The areas being dealt with are 1) debt reduction, 2) Landmines, 3) the (former) School of Americas, 4) death penalty and 5) organ donation program. We will be using info from the USCC kit titled Faithful Citizenship (social teachings of the church, informed voter ideas etc.). We will be doing voter registration as well, viewing videos (during the coffee time after Masses) and giving specific ideas on how to respond to these issues.

    Fr. Charlie Dittmeier (Cambodia):

    One thing I was thinking of was to invite the Maryknoll people here in Cambodia to write to their diocesan newspapers and/or to their parish bulletins, with such missives timed to arrive so they could be included in the newspaper, etc., the week before Mission Sunday.

    Hearing from a local person, a familiar face, who is overseas might help to create a better general climate of understanding about mission when the people who read the newspaper then hear some ideas about mission at the Sunday celebration on 22 October.

    It probably would be good for all of us overseas to have more contact with the our dioceses, but Mission Sunday seems a natural time.

    Stories Be sure to check out Mission Stories and Anecdotes -- great for bulletins and homilies!

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    Helpful Internet Links

    A running head start is to thoroughly peruse ALL that is offered on this Parish Without Borders website!

  • Parish Without Borders HOME PAGE

  • FIDES 1999 Mission Sunday Special
  • Communities of Salt and Light USCC online publication
  • Society for Propagation of the Faith
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    Join Our Discussion!

    As of 9/20/2000, there are over 60 people involved in some aspect of mission participating in on this email discussion list. We write each other only occasionally and always thoughtfully, never flooding any member's email box. Fresh ideas reach this list group long before appearing on any web page. You're invited, and the signup process is 1000% easier than it was just a year ago!

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