BY Ryan McDougall | October 4 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Call for a new generation of ‘missionaries at home’ as extraordinary month is declared

Pope Francis declared the extraordinary month to mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s encyclical Maximum Illud, which called on Catholics to bring the Good News to all people.

The Scottish branch of Pope Francis’ mission charity is calling on Catholics to be ‘missionaries at home’ this October, as the Holy Father declared an Extraordinary Mission Month.

Pope Francis declared the extraordinary month to mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s encyclical Maximum Illud, which called on Catholics to bring the Good News to all people.

Martin Mann, education outreach, formation and fundraising officer for Missio Scotland, said that the charity has been teaching schoolchildren that ‘you don’t have to be on a mission to be a missionary.’

“St Thérèse of Lisieux was never on a mission, yet she’s the patroness of the missions because of the fire that burned in her for the missionary Church and the salvation of souls,” he said.

Caritas students

“I emphasise to the young people that by praying for the missionary Church, they themselves become missionaries.

“By showing compassion, consideration, kindness and God’s love for others who they may never meet, they themselves will become missionaries.

“Anybody that confesses God’s love and lives out Gospel values becomes a missionary. You don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to do so, and that’s something really important.”

The charity has been in talks with RE coordinators of Scottish schools ahead of Mission Sunday, which takes place on October 20.

Mr Mann said: “Some Caritas students are going to deliver the Missio message on the missions in their respective parishes which is fantastic.

“The more people we can get out there talking about it and the mission of the Church, the better.”

Changing mission

Fr Vincent Lockhart, national director of Missio Scotland, worked as a missionary in Cameroon for 16 years.

He explained that mission has radically changed in recent years.

“The world has changed. Many countries don’t actually require missionaries anymore,” he said.

He added that Pope Francis has ‘recognised we are now living in a global community,’ and ‘the reality is, things are much more connected.’

“So that’s why he’s saying mission is not so much about white people going away to Asia, Africa, or South America to bring the Gospel, which was a part of history which is coming to an end in many ways,” he said.

“What we see now is we all have a mission,” he said, adding that everyone should ask what their mission is beyond attending Sunday Mass.

“We have to be connected to everybody else and see that our life, our mission, is actually part of a bigger picture,” he said.

Poor in Faith

Fr Lockhart added that the people he met in Cameroon had a ‘steadfast’ Faith despite living in poverty.

“One of the things that shocked me most, coming back here, is how little awareness on spirituality there seems to be in our society and how people don’t look after their souls, their spiritual needs,” he said.

“For a lot of people, if you ask them ‘how’s your spiritual health?’ they wouldn’t know how to answer.

“They don’t have the language or the experience, whereas in Africa it’s a very natural thing. So we are rich and we are poor in different ways.”

Pope Francis has approved four themes throughout the extraordinary mission month: a personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in His Church, the witness of missionary saints and martyrs, biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological formation for mission, and missionary charity as a commitment to support the Church’s missionary activity and communities too poor to support themselves.

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