A Missionary Church: All Catholics called to mission, from local to worldwide

North Texas Catholic
(Oct 20, 2023) Local

Father Brijil Lawrence, SAC, gives his homily during the Student Mission Mass on Oct. 11, 2023, at Nolan Catholic High School. Fifth through eighth graders from the Catholic schools in the diocese came together for the liturgy celebrated by Fr. Lawrence, chairman of the diocesan mission council. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

FORT WORTH- For many, thoughts of mission call to mind travel to distant lands and a sense of duty. True mission, however, something to which all baptized Catholics are called, consists of the latter though not necessarily the former.

“Mission work is not only going out of the country,” Father Philip Brembah of Arlington's St. Vincent de Paul Parish said. “It can be within or without. The Church is missionary by nature.

“Even within your home, you can be a missionary to your family, extended family, neighborhood, or school. You don't have to leave the country.”

In conjunction with the Diocese of Fort Worth's Oct. 22 celebration of World Mission Sunday at St. Rita Parish, Fr. Brembah and others stressed both the attributes of and importance of mission.

“Our faith is a lived faith,” Fr. Brembah said of mission. “It's not only sit in Mass, listen, and go home. It is about living the Gospel and our call to mission.”

Thus, Fr. Brembah reminded, the final words of each Mass: “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” reminding all that the work God calls us to do extends beyond the walls of the church.

A native of Ghana, Fr. Brembah, for example, performed mission, mainly working with high school students, before coming to the Diocese of Fort Worth 15 years ago.

Father Philip Brembah, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington, preaches during the homily at this 25th anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving on July 18, 2023. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

“Parishioners at St. Vincent used to go to Guatemala, the Appalachians, and other places for mission work,” Fr. Brembah said. “But with the restrictions of the last few years, people were withdrawn from traveling. So, within the parish, our neighborhood, our parishioners continue to reach out and live the Gospel that way.”

Through the theme of “Hearts on Fire, Feet on the Move,” Pope Francis invites Catholics to heed the Holy Spirit's guidance to “kindle the fire of Christ's love in our hearts and intentionally share this warmth with the world around us.”

Such, Bishop Michael Olson reminded, is the duty of all Christians in light of World Mission Sunday, as in all times.

“We renew our baptismal commitment to be missionaries of the Gospel throughout the world in this annual Eucharistic celebration,” Bishop Olson said. “As Catholics, we are obligated to share in the mission of spreading the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.”

Mission, Fr. Brembah stressed, involves a call of duty, yes, but also so much more.

“It involves sacrifice,” Fr. Brembah said. “But it is also a very beautiful and honorable thing that everyone can take part in. Mission is also a very joyful undertaking and a privilege to every missionary to appreciate the gifts of being able to receive and help someone else.”

Diocesan Mission Council Chairman Father Brijil Lawrence reiterated that our baptismal call entails missionary discipleship and that, as such, every action — as one people of God in the diocese, individual or collective — directs toward mission.

A picture of missionaries visiting with local clergy in front of a service project in Peru. (Courtesy Photo)

“This commitment finds tangible expression through various parish ministries, catechetical education, and formation, and particularly in the worshiping community,” Fr. Lawrence said. “As long as the apostolates and ministries are carried out in the name of Christ, they are missionary efforts and are living expressions of the Gospel.”

Bishop Olson and others spoke of the roles that prayer and financial support play in mission in addition to volunteering for mission work.

“Our prayers and our offerings support the formation of seminarians and religious men and women,” Bishop Olson said. “They assist in the construction of schools and orphanages and enable missionaries to build churches in remote and resource-limited areas and meet the essential needs to proclaim the Gospel and celebrate the Sacraments.”

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