It was on this day fifteen years ago, that I first had my public performance as a young growing seminarian. We were sent by our Rector to different parishes in Orlu to talk about Mission Sunday. I was posted to St. Patrick’s Parish Eziachi, under the instruction to tell the Catholic community about the need to support the missionaries all over the world to have effective missionary work. There were funds raised in this regard and that was to generally assist priests, brothers, bishops and Catholic nuns, to buy food for themselves and the people they minister to.
The Catholic Church has over the years been known for their act of charity and they make sure this is properly handled, knowing that those who worship God can’t do that on an empty stomach. Just like we witnessed during the Biafran war, the white Holy Ghost Fathers became elementary to the feeding of the children and others who were ravaged by hunger. And they continued doing that, until the government of Gowon expelled them from the Southeast, leaving scores of Biafrans to die of kwashiorkor.
This same human charity has been placed on repeat every year and it is accompanied by the beautiful letter from Pope. The pontifical letter was to serve as a guide that will encourage the missionaries on the need to continue their work of evangelization. However, the content of this letter as well, help some of us to have one or two words we can share with the people of God and at each point, I am always thinking that these missionaries need these alms to amplify the growth of converts.
There are many priests and nuns who are working on difficult mission lands and they require that they need some cash to buy food and water to sustain their ministerial work. Some mission areas have no good water and the food they eat, are not too great for them to survive on. Sometimes, food is being supplied to them, to give them that feeling of comfort and convenience. There are majority of them who die of ulcers, maybe because they have been starving and they have become so attached to hunger. This day gives them hope and a sense of belonging that people think and care about them.
On arrival after our Mission Sunday outing, we were mandated to submit the money realized to the office of the secretary, where they take accurate account of it and write letters to the different parishes in appreciation for the gift of food and cash. The seminary has a percentage they take, in building and feeding, while the rest, goes to the purse of the Diocese, to be sent to the designated areas where the missionaries face challenges.
The Catholics from the Southeast, have been very helpful and they take care of their priests in such a way that they almost lack nothing. They buy them cars, build rectories for them and most times provide them with incentives that urges the growth of the parish. While the reason for evangelization has been met, the need to extend more hands become very necessary to our brothers who work in places like Mali, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Congo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal, Brazil, and even some parts of Nigeria. Outside the monetary support, today is marked out to pray for the missionaries. Most importantly, those who face persecution, rejection, and many countries that need pastors and missionaries.
World Mission Sunday has been a good day to motivate youths to think of serving God through being a priest. And thankfully, many persons have been so responsive in that regard. There are a good number of priests today, who got motivated by the words of young seminarians who came to their parish for this spiritual function and I am aware many of them will testify to the fact that they have been very instrumental to the spiritual nourishment enjoyed by their parishioners. Meanwhile, I don’t know if my words convinced anyone in that big Parish of St. Patrick on the desire to become a priest. One thing I was very sure, that I conducted myself very well and I did say touching words that left some of the faithful in deep remorse and contemplation.
Today is a reminder that we are missionaries in our basic Christian community. We are called to bring peace, spread love and create a synergy between the state and the Church. The family, however, is a small unit that makes the Church a big umbrella of hope, grace and faith. It is then the responsibility of the parents to nurture a home that will give birth to a committed missionary, who will be interested in the things that concern God and work assiduously in the proclamation of the gospel. I hope you know why everyone is a missionary, because, at each moment of your life, you are filled with a mission to accomplish.