Sheila Grove

Xhonane and Miguel Olivas share their
mission experience.
                            Photo/Indira Suarez

Dedicating the month of October as extraordinary mission month, Pope Francis has asked “the whole church to live an extraordinary time of mission activity.”

The Diocese of Erie opened its month-long observation at a Mass at Our Lady of Peace church in Erie October 6, celebrated by Bishop Lawrence Persico. In his homily, Bishop Persico encouraged those in attendance to recognize that “by our baptism we are all called to be missionaries at home and abroad. We have the responsibility to support missionary work by our prayers, actions and financial support.”  

  “The church’s mission is based on the transformative power of the Gospel,” Bishop Perisco added.  “The Gospel is Good News filled with contagious joy, for it contains and offers new life: the life of the Risen Christ who, by bestowing his life-giving Spirit, becomes for us the Way, the Truth and the Life. (Jn. 14:6) He is the way who invites us to follow him with confidence and courage.” 

 Mass was followed by a reception organized by Indira Suarez, director of the Office for Diocesan and International Missions, with presentations given by missionaries from the Diocese of Erie. They include Rebecca Perry and Melissa Bronder, Gannon students who served in Guatemala; Olivia Sanders, a Villa Maria student who ministered in Haiti; Our Lady of Peace parishioners David and Kathy Wayman, who worked in Africa; and Alan Hannibal, who served in India. Suarez explained the event and presentations were designed to generate “excitement for mission work, raise awareness of the important work that the church does for missions and to let people know how they can support others who do mission work.” Young people who have been involved in missionary work are visiting parishes and schools throughout the month of October. 

 This month marks the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV's Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, a document on the church’s mission to bring to the world the salvation of Jesus Christ. The theme chosen for the month is “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.”  “It will help us in our mission,” according to Pope Francis, “which is not about spreading a ‘religious ideology’ or a ‘lofty ethical teaching. In a story published by Vatican News, he said, “Through the mission of the church, Jesus Christ himself continues to evangelize and act; her mission thus makes present in history the Kairos, the favorable time of salvation.”