Let's Be Missionaries!

08-05-2018From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

We all know that, before ascending to Heaven, Our Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples to spread the Gospel to all people. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, those disciples made a great start at this mission. Within a generation after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, the Gospel had been preached in most of the Roman Empire, and many people had been converted to Christ.

Today, our Church continues the mission that the apostles began in many ways. One of them is the annual Mission Co-op Plan. As part of this plan, every parish in our country – and in many others, too – is visited by a missionary who preaches about the missions at Sunday Mass. A collection is then taken to support the work of that missionary and his or her community.

Next weekend our parish will welcome a priest from the Diocese of Kohima. Located in the state of Nagaland in Northeast India, Kohima is a beehive of missionary activity. Fifty years ago, there were but a few hundred Catholics there. Today, there is over 60,000 – and the number is growing rapidly. The family of Fr. Mhoncan Ezung – who served as a deacon in our parish a few years ago – came to the Catholic Faith thru the efforts of the
missionaries in Nagaland. He is living proof of the great work that is happening there.

As always, I encourage everyone who can to support the missionary work of the Church. Not all of us can go to the missions, but all of us can support them through our prayers and, in many cases, financial offerings. In doing so, we continue that great mission that Jesus gave to us through His first disciples.

Over the years, I have come to believe that the Mission Co-op Appeal should also make us think about ways we can be missionaries right here in our own community. One way is making sure that our children or grandchildren are enrolled in Religious Education (CCD) Classes or Catholic School. Another is encouraging others to come to Church with us. Still another is being ready to respectfully and politely share our Faith with others when the opportunity presents itself. With so many people who have fallen away from the Faith – or have never been introduced to it – there is a lot of mission work to do right in our own backyard. Strengthened by the Spirit – Who came to us in Confirmation – we can do our part to spread the Gospel.

Speaking of missionary work and spreading the Gospel – remember that RCIA will begin again this autumn. RCIA is the process by which converts are welcomed into the Catholic Church. I am already working with one person and have another who is interested for this year. If you know of someone who has never been Baptized and would like to be – or who was Baptized in another denomination and wishes to become Catholic – or even someone who was Baptized Catholic but never received any other sacraments (First Communion or Confirmation) – RCIA is for them. You can either refer them to me or call me on their behalf. I will be very happy to help them!

Please remember to say a Hail Mary for me today – and every day. Let’s also pray for the missions and all the prospective converts among us. Finally, let’s pray for our parish and for peace.

Have a great week!

Fr. John