BEIJING — The Catholic faith is alive and flourishing in the Diocese of Beijing.
That is the message the people of the North Church, Beitang in Chinese, want to convey and is evident upon a visit there. I attended Mass in the church and spoke with the pastor, Father Peter Liu Yongbin, and associate, Father Sun, during a recent visit to China’s capital city.
If the original Apostles had not been missionary in their works, the Church would never have spread its presence around the world, said Msgr. Francis X. Blood.
“Becoming missionary is an essential dimension to being a Catholic,” said the director of the Pontifical Mission Societies for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. “We’re all missionary by baptism, but until we begin to share our faith in some way with others, we have not become what we’re being called to be by the Holy Spirit.”
This weekend, Catholics around the world will celebrate World Mission Sunday. The annual collection, to be taken up at parishes around the archdiocese, will benefit approximately 1,100 missionary territories around the world. Funding is administered by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, one of four Pontifical Mission Societies which seeks to foster a “spirit of universal mission, to inform Catholics of the life and the needs of the Catholic Church in the missions, and to encourage prayer and financial help for those mission churches.”
In 2008, the Archdiocese of St. Louis was ranked third in the country for donations to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, according to the national office in New York City. The archdiocese was behind the Archdioceses of San Diego and New York, which ranked first and second, respectively. Total giving from the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 2008 was $1,801,601. It also ranked seventh in per-capita giving.
“Although we are ranked 39th in Catholic population of dioceses in the U.S., the Archdiocese of St. Louis continues to be a leading diocese in generosity to the worldwide missionary work of the Church,” said Msgr. Francis X. Blood, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies for the archdiocese.
The United States as a whole donated $49,275,451 to the missions in 2008.
World Mission Sunday is celebrated by Catholics with a few minor differences depending on the country where it is being celebrated. In Brazil, where I served in the missions for more than 40 years, we have to call to mind the process of “see, judge and act,” which frequently is used to discern and determine pastoral actions in that country.
The Brazilian bishops and laity dedicate the month of August to vocations, as all are called. Because of the feast of St. John Mary Vianney, the first Sunday and the whole first week is dedicated to priestly vocations, as the Cure of Ars is the patron saint of priests, and his feast day is in the beginning of August. Other weeks are dedicated to family vocations, consecrated virgins and religious and catechists.
During the month of September, one of the books from the Bible is read and discussed in all Bible groups and Basic Christian Communities throughout the whole country. Our vocation has to be judged and confronted with God’s Word, so September is dedicated to this study. September was chosen to do this because the feast of St. Jerome, translator of the Bible and, is celebrated on Sept. 30.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics to give generously this year to the Church’s missionary agencies, saying that young Church communities need the funding at a time of economic crisis.
The pope made the comments in his message for World Mission Sunday, observed Oct. 18 in most countries. The text was published by the Vatican Sept. 5.
The pope said missionary zeal has always been a sign of Church vitality. He asked all Catholics to pray for an increase in missionary passion and to support missionaries who work on the front lines of evangelization, often under hostile conditions.
“I ask everyone, as a credible sign of communion among the churches, to offer financial assistance, especially in these times of crisis affecting all humanity, to enable the young local churches to illuminate the nations with the Gospel of charity,” he said.
“I mention especially the local churches and the men and women missionaries who bear witness to and spread the kingdom of God in situations of persecution, subjected to forms of oppression ranging from social discrimination to prison, torture and death,” he said.