As October, World Mission Month, draws to a close, here at The Pontifical Mission Societies office, we take time to reflect on all the outreach we have done in the name of mission education. Our ministry is multi-faceted. We are charged by the Holy Father with raising material support for missionaries around the world, as well as educating the people of our own Archdiocese about the importance of spreading the Gospel -- at home and abroad.
This year, we kicked off Mission Month with the Missionary Childhood Association, our Society that helps children to become more "mission-minded." On October 6th, we hosted a morning mission retreat on Zoom. Our two guests of honor and presenters were Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap, and David McGovern, of Catholic Mission Australia. They helped us bring life in the missions into the classrooms of 1,500 Catholic school students!
David shared pictures and videos of the work accomplished by missionaries in Thailand, supported by Catholic Mission, Australia's name for the Pontifical Mission Societies. David also introduced attendees to Sam, his "traveling companion." Sam is a great icebreaker when David travels to mission countries where he doesn't speak the language -- every child "speaks" cuddly stuffed toy!
Next, we all made soccer balls, in the way children in the missions do: using rags, trash, newspaper, and whatever they can find. Students did a great job of crunching up newspaper into a tight ball, wrapping it in rags, old towels, or mismatched socks, then tying it inside a few plastic shopping bags. After that, we wrapped our "ball" in an old T-shirt, keeping it as round as possible. (The word of the morning was ROUND!) This was followed by more plastic bags and finally lots of tying of strips of cloth, string, or tape to keep the ball secure. After all, what good is a soccer ball if it falls apart when you kick it?
Next, Cardinal Sean spoke with students about his own path to a missionary vocation. He recalled being a student in Catholic school and being a member of what was then called the Holy Childhood, now Missionary Childhood Association. Reading mission magazines with stories of faraway places led him to think about not just the priesthood, but the missionary life, too. During his half-hour talk, the Cardinal impressed upon the students that we are all called to live as missionary disciples. He stressed the importance of prayerfully supporting the missions -- those faraway places where the Gospel is being proclaimed perhaps for the first time.
Next Week: The Mission Office staff hits the road!
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.