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Evansville, Indiana
October 11, 1996     The Message
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October 11, 1996

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tt < Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Lord, orld Mission Sunday is Octo- ber 20, 1996. It is also my birthday. Only- a few days after my birth, as was the custom in those days, I was taken to St. Bernard's Church in French- town, Ind. There I was bap- tized "in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Ofttn I have pondered the questions: "What would it have been like had not the missionaries from other countries come to this land to evangelize its peoples? .... Would I have been baptized by a priest?" The fact is, missionaries did come and spend their lives in service to God's people here and, happily, for the most part they have now been replaced by native priests. Two years ago I wrote to you on this occasion and related the awful stories coming out of Rwanda in Africa. There were color pictures on the nbws of Catholic Christians lying slaughtered on the floor of their demolished church. They died at the hands of their fellow countrymen, also many of whom were Catholic. The cause was attributed to deeply imbedded hatred between peo- ples of differing native tribes. I also suggested then that just because peoples of other cultures have been bap- tized into the faith does not guarantee they are readyto embrace fully all of its precepts -- commandments. Mission work goes on long after the natives have been baptized. We as a privileged peo- ple must continue to do our part to pro- vide resources tcr assist in that effort. Tragically, the same bitter hatred has flared up in Burundi. Most recently the native Archbishop Joachim Ruhuna of Gitega and two religious sisters were assassinated by members of the tribe other than the one into which the Archbishop had been born. Again, as then, I pose the question: "Is the work of World Missioners done?" The answer will never be complete until all have had the Gospel preached to them and there is no more oppres- sion w when peace, as the fruit of justice, reigns. You and I must continue to help to make our missionary vresence felt. First of all, each of us can go to the missions everywhere in th world through our daily prayer. Secondly, we can assist others to be physically pre- sent through our sacrifice of money, our alms. Thirdly, we can apply the fruits of our personal fasting and abstinence that God might open the minds and hearts of those who for the first time hear of Jesus, that they might embrace Him in faith. We have the power to make a differ- ence in Christ's name. Be generous in prayer, alms, and personal acts of fast- ing and abstinence for the missions. Faithfully yours in Christ, Most Reverend Gerald A. Gettelfinger Bishop of Evansville WORLD MISSION SUNDAY ; i October20, 1996 S J t Dear Friends of the Missions, [ I requently these days, the story of [ 1 the Church in the missions is writ- [ .IL ten in the blood of the ] martyrs. It is dangerous to be a missionary in this our vio- lent, wounded world. During 1995, 32 missionar- ies gave their lives in service of the Gospel. In early 1996, one o[ the first two missionaries to die was from our own country. Sister Patricia McAleese, P.B.V.M., was killed on a mis- sionary service in Ghana, West Africa. Recently, in the past couple of weeks, the Bishop of Burundi was shot in the head and died in his automobile at the hands of a dozen or so tribal men (who have been arrested). Two other persons, traveling with the Archbishop, were also killed. On August 1, Bishop Claverie of Algeria and his chauffeur were killed. As we celebrate the Mission Month of October, there are 997 dioceses depend- ing upon the'Propagation; that is 120 more than 10 years ago.. Last year for the first time help was extended to the five republics of the former Soviet Union. The mission to all nations has been marked by great progress during the past mil- lennium. In 1900, Catholics in Africa numbered about two million. As we close the millennium, the number of Catholics there is close to 95 million, tn 1981, when I visited Kenya, East Africa, there was a Cardinal Otunga in Nairobi, 14 dioceses had native Kenyan Bishops, and one white American missionary, Bishop McCarthy, a Holy Cross Priest from Notre Dame. There is much work to be done. Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Chari- ties, the Catholic Church Extension Soci- ety and other organizations often collab- orate under the sponsorship of an Episcopal Conference in the integral lib - eration of peoples throughout the world. The Pontifical Mission Societies have as their principal objective and purpose, however, not the advancement of the socio-onomic development of.thepeo- pie in mission territories, but a much higher goal. This goal: the evangelization of these peoples and their being offered the gift of eternal salvation through the One Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus. As our Holy Father has said:" While the missionary Church is certainly involved.., in helping the poor.., con- tributing to theliberation of the oppressed, promoting and defending the just for bread hnd activity musl preach and establish which then means of sense." As story of the exciting. For tians, it was a vation. Jesus: the whole Church, the were the message planting ing those who accepted the making Nineteen hundred years l approach the third birth of Jesus, the Catholics in the United State er every year, as ize what it means to every nation, city and remote. The challenge today ! challenge the first experienced. As difficult as it get Jesus' message to really hear it, and act upon not happen in a day. It takes Gospel to penetrate people' Sunday is a special day as a sacrament and sacrifice versal Church. On Easter Church celebrates and renews', the risen Lord as of all. On Pentecost were empowered to language of the Gospel, our fervor for the living Mission Sunday is John Paul wrote: "World which seems to heighten the missions, as to for them, is of the Church, give: as an offering to Eucharistic celebration sions of the world.' .... :'i On Mission dition going back to the day' when the early Christians, on the first day of the week generosity in a collectio f0r that were in need. . Sincereh WORLD MISSION SUNDAY is an important date in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world. Pope John Paul II For fitrther information about THE PROPAGATION OF THE FAITH please contact: The Society for THE PROPAGATION OF THE FAITH ...all of us committed to the worldwide mission of Jesus