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World Mission Day: Church "Going forth"

Fr. Joseph Santiago CMF - Sun, Oct 23rd 2022

World Mission Day: Church "Going forth" in fidelity to her call to bear witness to Christ

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis: For World Mission Day 2022

You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)


Every year, in the month of October, we celebrate World Mission Day in order to renew the mission of evangelization both in the universal and in the local church.

World Mission Day — also known as World Mission Sunday — was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as the day of prayer for missions, closely related to society for the propagation of the faith.

On the occasion of the Solemnity of Epiphany, yesterday, 6 January, Pope Francis released the Message for the 2022 World Mission Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday 23 October on the theme "You shall be my witnesses" (Acts 1:8).

Why World Mission Sunday

Today vast numbers of people still do not know Jesus Christ. For this reason, the mission ad gentes continues to be most urgent. All the members of the Church are called to participate in this mission, for the Church is missionary by her very nature: she was born “to go forth”.

It unites Catholics all over the world in prayer, mutual friendship and support; both spiritual and material. It is a celebration of grace and joy.



“You shall be my witnesses”, “to the ends of the earth” and “you shall receive the power of the Holy Spirit” synthesizes the three foundations of the life and mission of every disciple.

1. “You shall be my witnesses” – The call of every Christian to bear witness to Christ

·        “You shall be my witnesses” is the heart of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples.  

·        Christ was the first to be sent, as a “missionary” of the Father (cf. Jn 20:21)

·        Christ is the Father’s “faithful witness” (cf. Rev 1:5).

·        Every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ.  

·        The Church, the community of Christ’s disciples, has no other mission than that of bringing the Gospel
         to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ.  

·        To evangelize is the very identity of the Church.

·        Mission is carried out together, not individually, in communion with the ecclesial community, and not on one’s own initiative.

·        As Saint Paul VI taught in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: “Evangelization is for no one an individual and isolated act;
          it is one that is deeply ecclesial.

·        The disciples are urged to live their personal lives in a missionary key: they are sent by Jesus to the world not only to carry out, 
          but also and above all to live the mission entrusted to them; not only to bear witness, but also and above all to be witnesses of Christ.

·        We always carry in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10).

·        The essence of the mission is to bear witness to Christ, that is, to his life, passion, death and resurrection for the love of the Father
          and of humanity.

·        The true witness is the “martyr”, the one who gives his or her life for Christ.

·        “Faith comes from what is heard” (Rom 10:17), also retains its relevance: it is the word that is heard which leads to belief” (Rom 10: 42).

·        In evangelization, the example of a Christian life and the proclamation of Christ are inseparable. One is at the service of the other.
         They are the two lungs with which any community must breathe, if it is to be missionary.

2. “To the ends of the earth” – The perennial relevance of a mission of universal evangelization

·        The Acts of the Apostles speak of this missionary expansion and provide a striking image of the Church “going forth” in fidelity to her call to bear witness to Christ the Lord and guided by divine providence in the concrete conditions of her life.  Persecuted in Jerusalem and then spread throughout Judea and Samaria, the first Christians bore witness to Jesus everywhere (cf. Acts 8:1, 4).

·        Something similar still happens in our own day. Due to religious persecution and situations of war and violence, many Christians are forced to flee from their homelands to other countries.

·        The pastoral care of migrants should be valued as an important missionary activity that can also help the local faithful to rediscover the joy of the Christian faith they have received.

·        Christ’s Church will continue to “go forth” towards new geographical, social and existential horizons, towards “borderline” places and human situations, in order to bear witness to Christ and his love to men and women of every people, culture and social status. 

·        In this sense, the mission will always be a missio ad gentes, as the Second Vatican Council taught.

·        The Church must constantly keep pressing forward, beyond her own confines, in order to testify to all the love of Christ.

3. “You will receive power” from the Holy Spirit – Let us always be strengthened and guided by the Spirit.

·        According to the account in Acts, the Holy Spirit gave them the strength, courage and wisdom to bear witness to Christ before all.

·        Just as “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3), so no Christian is able to bear full and genuine witness to Christ the Lord without the Spirit’s inspiration and assistance.

·        All Christ’s missionary disciples are called to recognize the essential importance of the Spirit’s work, to dwell in his presence daily and to receive his unfailing strength and guidance.

·        When we feel tired, unmotivated or confused that we should remember to have recourse to the Holy Spirit in prayer.

·        Prayer plays a fundamental role in missionary life. The Holy Spirit allows us to be refreshed and strengthened.

·        The Spirit, then, is the true protagonist of the mission. It is he who gives us the right word, at the right time, and in the right way.

This year World Mission Day offers us the opportunity to commemorate several important events in the Church’s life and mission:

1.      The establishment of the Sacred Congregation De Propaganda Fide now the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 1622 was motivated by the desire to promote the missionary mandate in new territories.

2.      A young French woman, Pauline Jaricot, founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith exactly two hundred years ago. She was beatified on 22 May 2022.

3.      A hundred years ago, French Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson, who established the Association of the Holy Childhood to promote the mission among children, with the motto “Children evangelize children, children pray for children, children help children the world over”.

4.      Jeanne Bigard, who inaugurated the Society of Saint Peter the Apostle for the support of seminarians and priests in mission lands.

5.      Blessed Paolo Manna, born 150 years ago, founded the present-day Pontifical Missionary Union, to raise awareness and encourage missionary spirit among priests, men and women religious and the whole people of God. 


May the Spirit, will continue and intensify its work of coordinating, organizing and promoting the Church’s missionary activities.

Let us Continue to dream of a completely missionary Church, and a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities.

All of us in the Church were what we already are by virtue of baptism: prophets, witnesses, missionaries of the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the ends of the earth!

Mary, Queen of the Missions, pray for us!


Joseph Santiago CMF

LIFE ( Lay Institute for the Formation of Evangelizers)
Nochiodaipatti,Dindigul,Tamil Nadu,India


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