Ahead of World Mission Sunday, the priest heading a papal society for the spread of the faith has said all Catholics are missionaries and should renew their commitment to proclaiming the Gospel. A credible witness of the faith requires a “profound” personal and communal conversion, he commented.
“As Catholics, we have a wonderful responsibility, by reason of our baptism, to bring about change for the good in our world,” commented Fr. Timothy Lehane Barret, SVD. To accomplish this, he said, Catholics must become aware of the need for conversion beginning with ourselves.
Fr. Barret is secretary general of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith. His letter published, by Agenzia Fides, often cited Pope Benedict XVI’s Feb. 6 message for the Oct. 24 observance of World Mission Sunday.
That message, Fr. Barret said, encourages dioceses, parishes, religious orders, and the whole “People of God” to give a greater missionary character to pastoral activity.
“The Holy Father says that each one of us should enrich our lives by an ever-greater awareness of God’s unconditional love for us and its experience, which transforms our lives,” the priest explained. “Then through us, our ever more divided societies can be changed into an ecclesial communion.”
The encounter with the love of God “transforms our existence” so that we can live in communion with God and among ourselves, Pope Benedict said in his message.
“Today people are searching for something different in the everyday confusion of our world and many of them want to ‘see Jesus’,” Fr. Barret explained. However, the Pope has taught that giving witness to these people cannot be done credibly without “a profound personal, communal, and pastoral conversion.”
Pope Benedict has asked for an “integral renewal’ and an openness to missionary cooperation among the Churches to proclaim the Gospel in the heart of “every person, every people, culture, race, nationality, in every place.”
Fr. Barret thanked those cooperating with World Mission Sunday, saying his travels through Zambia have given him firsthand experience of the gratitude of missionaries and the need of poor churches.
“(W)e are missionary by reason of our baptism; we are all missionaries and together we can make a difference,” he wrote.
“Know that your kindness, generosity and prayers truly make a difference and it is greatly appreciated… Our local churches throughout the world could not survive without your support,” he added, asking for generous giving despite economic difficulties.
He urged prayer, meditation on scripture and study of the faith to help increase awareness of God’s unconditional love “for all of us.”