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Homily of Bishop Denis for Mission Sunday 2020

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A:                 18.10.20

9.30am Mass – KCLR Studio, Kilkenny – Level 3 Restrictions

Mission Sunday


This morning we celebrate the contribution of missionaries from our parishes across both dioceses; men and women drawn by the desire to preach the good news in other places, in other parts. Ordained, religious and lay, who have all made an enormous contribution to the missionary landscape of our world.

It’s a very different ‘Mission Sunday’ this year; it’s been a very different Mission Month, October. This years theme ‘Together we can do more – Blessed are the peacemakers’, is a clear reminder that as we are experiencing through COVID, together we are stronger.

In some of the poorer countries where COVID has seriously embedded it is our Irish missionaries, lay and religious who are on those frontlines. Of course missionary and being missionary is very much at the heart of our baptismal calling, we begin by pausing a moment to pray for forgiveness for not living up to that missionary mandate …


O sing a new song to the Lord, Sing to the Lord all the earth.”[1]

And so begins the first verse of Psalm 96, this morning’s responsorial psalm. Christine Devanney taught us in third and fourth class. She didn’t teach us singing, that was left to Mr. Ryle next door. But she did organise the rota for delivering the Missionary Magazines down each side of your road, around the townland, through your estate or simply they went into the bottom of your school bag for your own family and maybe a next-door neighbour! Perhaps some of them never saw the light of day! The Africa, the Far East, the Messenger, Outlook & the Word! “The money is due next month”, she would remind us, as she stapled the smallest of brown envelopes to the particular magazine, ready to receive next years subscription.

Tell among the nations his glory, And his wonders among all the peoples.”[2]

 The first verse of our responsorial psalm concludes. And that’s the story so beautifully told in those missionary magazines. The circulation may have waned as the years passed, but the conviction of the message remains as strong. The current issue of Africa has Fr. Gabriel Dolan asking the question in the context of COVID-19 ‘Who is caring for the children in Kenya?’ The Far East celebrates the Columban missionary Fr. Gabriel Rojas who has worked in Pakistan and now in Peru and who uses music as part of his ministry and outreach with the poorest of the poor. Eileen Kane writing in The Sacred Heart Messenger unpacks the story of Christ meeting the Woman at the Well. Eileen offers this Samaritan woman as one of the first gospel missionaries, whose life was profoundly changed by that encounter at the well. Sadly Outlook and the Word magazines are no longer published; demand for Missionary Magazines is not what it was when I and my classmates doorstepped neighbours collecting coins to fill those small brown self-seal envelopes.

The Lord is great and worthy of praise, To be feared above all gods.”[3]

The second verse of our psalm commences. This years Mission Sunday theme is ‘Together we can do more – Blessed are the peacmakers (Mt.5:9)’.This is exactly what the religious and lay missionaries coming from parishes all over Ossory and Kildare & Leighlin have been doing for years. The magazines tell us their story, their narrative. The magazines bring us to places we may never dare to travel to. The missionaries are the ones on the frontline, women and men, who once hurled with the local club or were in school with us is now the face of Christ with the marginalised and broken. They were there long before COVID and they will there long after. But right now in these desperate times they need your help and your support.

Worship the Lord in his temple. O earth, tremble before him.”[4]

The final verse of todays psalm. We are not in our temples or our Cathedrals or our churches. We are at home, in our kitchens, our living rooms or maybe tuning in from a sick bed.  The missionary magazines allow us to understand a people, a race, a continent who without Irish missionaries would never have heard of Christ. Let us support the Missions in whatever way we can this particularly challenging year, leave your envelope donation into your local church during the week or text ‘MISSION’ to 50300 to donate €4 to their life-giving work. In Fratelli Tutti Pope Francis says: “a culture without universal values is not truly a culture[5], here in KCLR Studios in Kilkenny I suggest a Church without a missionary dimension is not truly a Church. It is this missionary dimension we celebrate and support this Sunday morning.


[1] Ps. 96:1

[2] Ps. 96:3

[3] Ps. 26:4

[4] Ps.26:10

[5] Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, Veritas Publications, 2020, §146, pg. 60.