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By Susan Hines-Brigger

What's Your Mission?


The Importance of Missionary Work
Answering Your Call to Mission
For Teens: Mission Work at Home
For Kids: Helping Other Kids

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it....” This line from the popular Mission: Impossible television series and movies probably raises images of international intrigue for most people. But the truth is, as Catholics, we all have a mission. Vatican II’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity (Ad Gentes Divinitus) said, “The Church on earth is by its very nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, it has its origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit” (#2).

This month, we will celebrate World Mission Sunday on October 20. (World Mission Sunday is celebrated yearly on the second-last Sunday in October.) It is a day for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.

World Mission Sunday is organized by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith (, one of four Pontifical Mission Aid Societies of the Catholic Church. The other societies are the Society of St. Peter Apostle, the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, and the Holy Childhood Association. The goal of these societies is to raise the consciousness of Catholics about what they can do to be missionaries.

The Importance of Missionary Work

For years, the missions have played a vital role worldwide in providing a living example of Christ’s teachings.

In his message for this year’s World Mission Sunday, Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of continuing mission work today: “At the beginning of the third Christian millennium, the missionary duty is ever more urgent....Mission Sunday, the feast day of Mission, helps us discover the value of our personal and community vocation. It stimulates us to reach out to ‘my least brothers’ (Matthew 25:40) through missionaries in every part of the world. This is the task of the pontifical mission societies which have always been at the service of the Church’s mission, ensuring that the least ones are not lacking those who break with them the bread of the Word and continue to bring them the gift of inexhaustible love that gushes from the heart of the Savior.”

Answering Your Call to Mission

For thousands of years, Catholic missionaries have helped spread Jesus’ message throughout the world. Some have traveled the world, while others work closer to home, doing missionary work. You and your family can do your part to spread Jesus’ message in your own neighborhood, parish, town or city.

Here are some ways your family can accept your missionary call:

• Pray for those doing missionary work throughout the world. St. Thérèse of Lisieux and St. Francis Xavier are the patroness and patron of the missions.

• Become aware of the various organizations supporting mission work throughout the world, such as Catholic Relief Services (, the U.S. bishops’ overseas aid organization.

• Fast from at least one meal, or take part in a 24-hour fast as an act of solidarity with those suffering from hunger. Or prepare a meal from one of the many countries where Catholic Relief Services works, such as Guatemala, Kenya or Vietnam. You can find these recipes at the CRS Web site in the kids’ section.

• Donate to the collection taken up on World Mission Sunday or support another mission organization.

• Learn about areas of the world where missionaries work and the type of work they are doing to help make a difference.

• Work for legislation that will positively impact the lives of the poor throughout the world.

• Read the U.S. bishops’ 1986 pastoral statement To the Ends of the Earth, available online at

This month, as we recognize all of the mission work being done throughout the world, let’s think of what our role in that work could be. We know our mission. The question is: Will we accept it?

Next Month: Are You a Saint?



For Teens: Mission Work at Home

Even though this month the Church is celebrating World Missions, there are plenty of opportunities for mission work close to home.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur partnered their Mission Volunteer Program with the national AmeriCorps program as a way to provide "holistic educational programs for at-risk children and adults in economically disadvantaged communities." You can visit the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur's site at Read about how the Notre Dame-AmeriCorps program got started elsewhere on this Website.

You can also check out other organizations committed to mission work, such as Glenmary Home Missioners ( and the Christian Appalachian Project (

See if you and your friends can identify other mission opportunities close to home, and then get involved. Gather a group of friends, get your school involved or round up your youth group to do some real mission work.

For Kids: Helping Other Kids

The Holy Childhood Association (HCA) is one of the four Pontifical Mission Aid Societies, and is devoted to helping children all over the world. The best part about this organization is that it's kids helping kids.

The program was started in France in 1843 by Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson. He asked young people to "pray and make sacrifices for their brothers and sisters in China, who had no food, clothing or place to live." You can read more about how the organization started, find some interesting links and sign up to become a member of HCA by visiting (Make sure to get your parent's or an adult's permission before you sign up to be part of the program.) You can also ask your school's religion teacher or your religious-education teacher if your class can participate in HCA.

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at

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