- Missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity – Pope Benedict
- On Mission Sunday we remember the Irish-born missionaries who help Christian communities in other parts of the world – Bishop O’Reilly
- Our theme this year in Ireland is ‘Together in Faith’ with a focus on the newly independent Republic of South Sudan – Father Howley
October has been designated as Mission Month by the Catholic Church. World Missions Ireland – the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies – brings the prayers, solidarity and financial help of the Church in Ireland to Christian communities in other parts of the world, especially those in greatest need.
In his message ahead of Mission Sunday on 23 October next, Pope Benedict XVI has declared that “Missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! It is in commitment to the Church’s universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support.”
Welcoming ‘Together in Faith’ as the theme for Mission Month 2011, Bishop Colm O’Reilly, chair of the Irish Bishops’ Council for Missions, said “October is a special time in the Church calendar as it allows us to reflect on mission, as well as to renew our missionary work for today. In particular on Mission Sunday we remember all missionaries but especially Irish-born missionaries. Let these missionaries, and the many Irish lay volunteers supporting their pastoral work, be the focus of our prayers as we celebrate Mission Sunday.”
Father Gary Howley SPS, Director of World Missions Ireland, said, “Our mission theme for 2011 ‘Together in Faith’ focuses on the newly independent Republic of South Sudan. At present there are 1,762 Irish missionaries working in 84 countries, including in South Sudan. Mission Month is a time to celebrate our faith, the work of all missionaries and of all those who make this work possible.”
Bishop O’Reilly continued, “Let us remember too in our prayers those in need in our own families and communities and around the world and we thank in particular the members of the Apostolic Work Society, all over Ireland, who give such valuable support to the work of our missionaries.
“Specifically on Mission Sunday we are asked to put aside – for that day – our support for our favourite missionary group or project so as to show our solidarity with the younger Churches throughout the world, especially those with the least resources.”
Notes to Editors
- Photographs available from the Catholic Communications Office.
- Mission Sunday takes place every year on the second last Sunday in October. October is the Month of Mission throughout the world. Our 2011 theme in Ireland is ‘Together in Faith’, with a focus is on the newly independent Republic of South Sudan. This togetherness is exemplified by catechist Pio Lokuru. Now 84 years old, Pio Lokuru has endured imprisonment and torture during the long civil war that resulted in the deaths and displacement of many millions of people. Though the churches were destroyed, the spirit of the people was not: Pio Lokuru was not killed because his people regard him as ‘a Man of God’.
Pio Lokuru and his fellow catechists kept the faith alive during the long years of war and provided a model of faith and endurance. He welcomed missionaries and taught them the language and customs of his people.
- Over the last decade Ireland has ranked 7th in the world in contributing to the missions. The collection is organised by the Society for Propagation of the Faith. The Mission Sunday collection is made available, in its entirety, to be distributed to the 1,100 young Churches who are supported by the generosity of Churches that are better off. In 2010 the Irish office sent more than €2.2m to help build up the Church in countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as to help the training of priests, religious, seminarians, novices and catechists in mission lands. Ireland has a long tradition of supporting the missions and our first collection took place in 1838.
- World Missions Ireland (WMI) is registered name of The Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Ireland. It compromises the Propagation of the Faith, St Peter Apostle, Missionary Children and the Union of Priests and Religious. Together these societies form the Catholic Church’s official support organisation for the spreading of the gospel in the world, especially in countries where the Church is new, young or poor. In Ireland, the principal activities of the PMS are to promote awareness of, and raise funds for, the worldwide missionary and pastoral work of the Church.
- Ahead of Mission Month 2012, Aidan Clerkin and Brendan Clerkin have edited a book entitled A Road Less Travelled: Tales of Irish Missionaries, which tells the story of thousands of Irish missionaries who have devoted themselves to the spread of the gospel. A Road Less Travelled features a special contribution by Cardinal Seán Brady. The missionaries featured have had unique adventures, misadventures and truly extraordinary experiences. The book contains personal accounts of the most memorable experiences in their adopted homes, spanning the period from the mid-twentieth century right up to the 2010 World Cup. The stories they tell are amusing, informative, in some cases harrowing – but always engrossing. The short narratives and anecdotes comprising this anthology have been extracted from diaries, memoirs, letters home to Ireland, and from contributions specially commissioned for this book. They provide an insight into the lives of some of Ireland’s most outstanding emigrants.