By Cian Molloy - 26 July, 2019
News that October this year will be celebrated by the Church as “an Extraordinary Month of Mission” has been welcomed by Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel and Emly.
The archbishop served two terms as superior general of the Society of African Missions (SMA) before being made a member of the hierarchy in 2010, so the missionary world is especially close to his heart.
Every year in the run-up to World Mission Sunday, which falls on the second-last Sunday of October, the faithful pray for the mission of the Church and for the men and women who have volunteered to be missionaries.
This year, however, Pope Francis has declared that the whole of October will be marked as “an Extraordinary Month of Mission” to mark the centenary of the publication of Pope Benedict XV’s apostolic letter Maximum illud, which was a ground-breaking document in that it formally separated the Church’s work and mission from political alliances and colonialism.
“I welcome this extra-special month of prayer and action,” the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly said yesterday. “From every parish in Ireland men and women have travelled literally to the ends of the earth as missionaries. Our missionaries have contributed enormously to the mission entrusted to the Church by the Lord. It is an involvement that we can all be rightly proud of. As Pope Francis notes, ‘Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!’”
Already World Missions Ireland (WMI) has started developing a programme and has a toolkit for use in parishes and schools during the extraordinary month. Ideas in the toolkit include initiatives such as “meet a missionary”; nature trails exploring eco-spirituality; visits to local Mass rocks, shrines and holy wells; and recitations of the Extraordinary Month of Mission prayer.
WMI is an umbrella organisation for the four pontifical missionary societies that operate in Ireland: the Society of Missionary Children, the Missionary Union, the Association for the Propagation of the Faith and the Society of St Peter the Apostle.
WMI national secretary, Julieann Moran, says the organisation is very excited by Pope Francis’ initiative. “When an ‘extraordinary’ year or month is declared, the Pope is asking us to become more focused and attentive during this special time. Looking at Maximum illud we see a request that is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago – a request for us to explore and deliver new ways to bring the message of Jesus to an ever-changing world.”
The WMI’s “Extraordinary Mission Month Facts & Toolkit” resource can be downloaded from the website www.wmi.ie.
During the month of October, Catholics are being asked to recite the Extraordinary Month of Mission prayer every Friday after the mid-day Angelus. The text of the prayer is as follows:
When your only begotten Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead, He commissioned His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations” and you remind us that through our Baptism we are made sharers in the mission of the Church.
Empower us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be courageous and zealous in bearing witness to the Gospel, so that the mission entrusted to the Church, which is still very far from completion, may find new and efficacious expressions that bring life and light to the world.
Help us make it possible for all peoples to experience the saving love and mercy of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever