Pope Francis' message for World Mission Sunday 2018
Vatican City, 20 October 2018 -- "Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all" - a very Salesian theme for this World Mission Sunday (20 October) is an excellent motivation and food for reflection and action for any member of the Salesian family. In a special way Pope Francis is celebrating this Mission Sunday with all 2018 Synod members in Rome, where the focus is on the Young - Faith and Vocation discernment: "The Synod in Rome during this month of the missions, offers us an opportunity to understand more fully, in the light of faith, what the Lord Jesus wants to say to you young and, through you, on all Christian communities."
The two-page message of Pope Francis may be easily digested by Catholic youth in our parishes, schools, SYM groups, with the following focus:
Life is a mission:
"Every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth. To be attracted and to be sent are two movements that our hearts, especially when we are young, feel as interior forces of love; they hold out promise for our future and they give direction to our lives. “I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world (Evangelii Gaudium, 273)."
We proclaim Jesus Christ
"Dear young people, do not be afraid of Christ and his Church! For there we find the treasure that fills life with joy. I can tell you this from my own experience: thanks to faith, I found the sure foundation of my dreams and the strength to realize them. I have seen great suffering and poverty mar the faces of so many of our brothers and sisters. And yet, for those who stand by Jesus, evil is an incentive to ever greater love... At the school of the saints, who open us to the vast horizons of God, I invite you never to stop wondering: “What would Christ do if he were in my place?”
Transmitting the faith to the ends of the earth
The Church represent the extreme peripheries, the “ends of the earth”, to which, ever since the first Easter, Jesus’ missionary disciples have been sent, with the certainty that their Lord is always with them. This is what we call the missio ad gentes....The ends of the earth, dear young people, nowadays are quite relative and always easily “navigable”. The digital world dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences. Everything appears within reach, so close and immediate. And yet ... to share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands the gift of oneself in the vocation that God, who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us ."
Bearing witness to love
I am grateful to all those ecclesial groups that make it possible for you to have a personal encounter with Christ living in his Church: parishes, associations, movements, religious communities, and the varied expressions of missionary service. How many young people find in missionary volunteer work a way of serving the “least” of our brothers and sisters, promoting human dignity and witnessing to the joy of love and of being Christians! ..These praiseworthy forms of temporary missionary service are a fruitful beginning and, through vocational discernment, they can help you to decide to make a complete gift of yourselves as missionaries.
Let me repeat the words of encouragement that I addressed to the young people of Chile: “Never think that you have nothing to offer, or that nobody needs you. Many people need you. Think about it! Each of you, think in your heart: many people need me” (17 Jan 2018).
On the occasion of the World Mission Sunday the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples offers simple but deeply striking statistics about the world-wide Catholic community: There are 12 millions more Catholic believers than the previous year and the Universal - Catholic Church counts almost 1.300 millions of faithful, that is 17.7% of world population. In Asia, out of 4.3 billion people, the Catholic population of 141 million forms about 3.2%. This might be our ongoing motivation to witness and help to raise interest in the person of Jesus through our daily life of service to the young.
The statistics does not speak about how many missionaries (lay, religious or priest) were sent during past one year, however the number of bishops increased by 67 to the total of 5304 while the number of priest diminished of 136 to the total of 415.656. Moreover there are 351.000+ lay missionaries and more than 3.122.000 catechists.
At present the Catholic Church runs 216,548 schools in the world, attended by over 60 million pupils. In addition, almost five and a half million young people attend Catholic institutes during high school and university studies. Finally there are about 118.000 Catholic social and charitable institutes (hospitals, Care Homes for people with Hansen's disease, orphanages, homes for the elderly) scattered throughout the world.
More detailed statistics are available on Boscolink