Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Amidst COVID-19 pandemic which stalled due to rescheduling of most activities including restrictions on public Masses, the Vatican through the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples mandated to coordinate and direct the missionary activities of the Church worldwide, has confirmed that the Catholic Church will celebrate World Mission Sunday the normal time the event is normally celebrated.
“In response to some requests regarding the celebration of World Mission Day 2020, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples confirms that it will be celebrated this year at universal level on Sunday 18 October, without variations to the calendar,” reads in part a statement dated Friday, August 28.
“In many dioceses, preparations for World Mission Day have been underway for some time and the missionary animation of the People of God remains pre-eminent,” the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples highlights in the press release.
The World Mission Sunday that was declared by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as the day of prayer for missions, is normally celebrated throughout the world on the penultimate Sunday of October every year for the Catholic Church to publicly renew its commitment to the missionary movement.
According to the statement, “faith by its very nature is missionary, and the celebration of World Mission Day serves to keep this essential dimension of the Christian faith alive in all the faithful.”
Another missionary activity that marks World Mission Day is “the sense of communion and co-responsibility of the bishops for the collection on that Day in favour of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), which work in a universal context for the equitable support of the Churches in mission territories.”
In addition, Pope Francis’ message for World Mission Day released on Pentecost Sunday May 31, highlights further that the celebration is also “an occasion for reaffirming how prayer, reflection and the material help of your offerings are so many opportunities to participate actively in the mission of Jesus in his Church.”
According to the Pontiff in his May message, this year which is marked by the suffering and challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the missionary journey of the whole Church continues in the theme of this year’s World Mission Day theme “Here am I, send me.”
“This invitation from God’s merciful heart challenges both the Church and humanity as a whole in the current world crisis (that) like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm,” Pope Francis wrote in his message adding that “We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”