INAUGURATION OF MISSION MONTH IN MALAWI
Written by Fr. Vincent Mwankhwawa,National Director of Pontifical Missionary Societies
The National Director of Pontifical Mission Societies in Malawi has announced and inaugurated the celebration of Mission Month (October) in preparation of the Mission Sunday 19 October 2014.
The announcement and launch was done at Mkanda St. Mark’s Catholic Parish in Mchinji in the Archdiocese of Longwe on 28th September 2014. During the Eucharistic Celebration, the National Director of Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Vincent Mwakhwawa, reminded all Catholics that October is Mission Month. He therefore encouraged all Catholics to engage themselves in prayers for the mission work of the Church and participate actively in the activities of the Church. The faithful were also asked to contribute money generously for the urgent missionary work of the Church in the world. He encouraged Catholic families to fulfill their missionary responsibility by participating in the life and mission of the church. He advised families to be missionary schools by praying together especially the Mission Rosary with their children; hence, families should be first centers of missionary formation.
In his homily, Fr Vincent outlined the following issues about Mission Month and Mission Sunday:
1. World Mission Month (October), World Mission Sunday
• The Church has set aside the month of October as Mission Month every year and the third Sunday of October as a Mission Sunday. Pope Pius XI is the one who established this day in 1926 so that the Society for the Propagation of Faith should have a month and day of prayer and collection of money for the mission of the Church in the whole world.
• In establishing Mission Month and Mission Sunday, the Church asks the faithful to annually reflect on the urgency of the mission of Christ to the whole world.
2. What happens in Mission Month?
? Thanking God through prayers because of the growth of the Catholic Church in the world.
? Animating the people of God so that they should take part in the proclamation of the gospel.
? Praying for the universal Church that it can carry on with urgency the mission of Christ. Praying for: no-believers; for the persecuted Church; maturity of the Church in mission territories; praying for the ministers of the Church.
? Praying the Mission Rosary during the whole month of October. Entrusting to our Mother Mary the missionary work being done by the Church.
? Contributing money for the missionary activities of the Church.
? Priests and other church leaders are expected to lead in the animation about the importance of Mission Month and Mission Sunday.
? At different levels, the lay faithful are expected to share experiences and discuss the needs of the local and Universal Church and find means of responding to the needs.
In the history of the church, we have seen good fruits of prayers, services and offerings for the mission of the Church. Malawi as a country has benefited and, still enjoys the fruits of the missionary commitment of Christians from other countries. Through their missionary prayers, services and monetary contributions the Catholic Church has been established in Malawi. The gospel of salvation has reached our territories because of the love and generosity of missionaries from other countries.
After a hundred years of Catholicism in Malawi, the Malawian Catholics should be in solidarity with the whole Catholic world in contributing generously, their spiritual and material gifts to others. Regardless of our economic challenges, the Holy Father still expects us to contribute with love to the solidarity fund of PMS. No one is too poor not to give and no one is so rich not to receive. “I exhort all the churches, and the bishops, priests, religious and members of the laity, to be open to the Church’s universality, and to avoid every form of provincialism or exclusiveness, or feeling of self sufficiency” (St. John Paul II, Encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio – Mission of the Church, 1991).
In the Mission Sunday Message of 2014 the Holy Father, Pope Francis says: “‘God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Cor 9:7). World Mission Day is also an occasion to rekindle the desire and the moral obligation to take joyful part in the mission ad gentes. A monetary contribution on the part of individuals is the sign of a self-offering, first to the Lord and then to others; in this way material offerings can become means for the evangelization of humanity built on love.”
3. Mission Rosary
During the Mission Month of October, Christians are asked to pray the Mission Rosary in their families, small Christian communities or in parishes. The aim of this rosary is to ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary to her son, our Lord and only saviour Jesus Christ to continue pouring his graces on us and on all his servants for the salvation of the world.
The beads of the Mission Rosary are in different colours representing people of the five continents as follows:-
? The green beads represent the people of Africa
? The red beads represent the people of America
? The white beads represent the people of Europe
? The blue beads represent the people of the Oceans
? The yellow beads represent the people of Asia and Arabic countries.
As a Catholic Church, we are one family of God. We have to share and support one another with the spiritual and material wealth we receive from God our Father, the source of all good.
Mission Month and Mission Sunday is promoted by the Societies of the Propagation of Faith, which is one of the four Societies of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS).
Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS)
The primary objective of PMS is promotion of missionary spirit among the people of God. Missionary spirit is promoted through animation and is manifested though ardent offering of prayers, services and financial contribution for the mission of the Church in the whole world.
As PMS promotes missionary spirit the local Church becomes self reliant and opens up to the cooperation with the universal church and share its spiritual and material resources with others.
There are Four Pontifical Mission Societies:-
1. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
It aims at forming a Catholic conscience in the faithful, combining a complete docility to the Spirit with an apostolic commitment of outreach to the world. It also cooperates in the formation of specific missionary animators who are working in particular Churches, to embrace a more adequate participation of the latter in the worldwide mission. It pays special attention to the missionary formation of youth and to the missionary dimension of the family. One of the most beautiful fruits of this Society is World Mission Day, established by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on 14th April 1926 and set for the penultimate Sunday of the month of October.
2. The Society of saint Peter Apostle
It has the primary objective of supporting the importance of the apostolic element in mission and the necessity for each Church to form, within the spiritual and local cultural contexts, its own religious personnel and in particular, its own ordained ministers. The support promoted by this Society is not purely economic, but is rooted in prayer and in a life inspired by faith.
3. The Society of Holy Childhood or Missionary children
It owes its name to the desire of entrusting the Society to the protection of the Child Jesus. Convinced that children can be a spiritual and social force for real transformation of the world, this Society aims at creating a movement of Christian children committed to helping other children. The Society maintains its original missionary character and also includes a commitment to denouncing and condemning the causes of various forms of violence suffered by children throughout the world; hence, it contributes towards practical initiatives of assistance. This commitment is all the more effective if carried out in close cooperation with local Churches and in harmony with families, parishes and schools.
4. The Society of Missionary Union
It brings together, the clergy, the religious and the laity with an aim of re-awakening an apostolic zeal in them. Missionary formation is given to all so that they can in turn support and promote the other three societies above. That is why Society of Missionary Union is called ‘the soul’ of PMS.
PMS Offerings are done every year especially on the day of each Society:
-Propagation Faith collection is made on Mission Sunday in October (19October 2014)
-St. Peter the Apostle collection is made on Vocation Sunday (11 May 2014).
-Holy Childhood collection is made on Epiphany Sunday (5 January 2014, 4 January 2015)
-Mission Union is made on the day of the Consecrated (2nd February) or world day of the sick (11 February).
The total offerings collected by the PMS in all the parishes and dioceses throughout the world are sent to the Holy See in Rome. The Holy Father annually distributes the money to mission territories and needy churches that submit a request.
Malawi has been supported very much from the PMS funds for the past 100 years. The Catholic Church in Malawi has been built from the missionary cooperation and generosity promoted by PMS in other countries. Now that we are more than 100years old as a Church, it is time to generously share our spiritual and material gifts with others. We are all missionaries and we have to express our missionary spirit through our prayers, services and financial contribution to the universal Church.
Booklets are being produced in English, Chichewa and Tumbuka to help the people of God reflect on the Sunday readings in this Mission Month. The Mission Month celebration runs from 28th September to 31st October 2014.
All pastoral workers and community leaders are encouraged to lead their community members in animation and reflections in this Mission Month. They are also encouraged to use the Catholic Radios and Television and means of communication.