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Bishop Denis’ Homily on Mission Sunday

Bishop Denis celebrated Mass in The Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow on Mission Sunday.

In his opening words Bishop Denis commented “Mission Sunday invites us to preach the good news in our own times and in our own place. The missionary challenge is a response to the love with which God loves us – only from Jesus can care, tenderness, compassion come.

On Mission Sunday, Catholics all over the world have an opportunity to sow seeds of faith that are watered and nurtured throughout the year by World Missions Ireland, Pope Francis’ official charity for overseas mission. 40% of the Church around the world is missionary – that’s thousands of parishes that are too young or too poor to support themselves.

Of course missionary and being missionary is very much at the heart of all our baptismal calling, we begin by pausing a moment to ask ourselves are we people who look out to the peripheries, the margins or do we settle for a certain smugness?…”


Christine Devanney taught us in third and fourth classes.

They were the classes where you were put on a rota to deliver the Missionary Magazines down each side of your road, around your estate or simply they went into the bottom of your school bag for your own family and maybe the next-door neighbour!

The Africa, The Far East, The Messenger, Outlook & The Word!

The money is due next month”, she would remind us, and stapled to the particular magazine, you found the smallest of brown envelopes, ready to receive next years subscription.

We always competed with one another; who could fit the most, loose change into those miniscule self-seal envelopes without bursting them!

Back to today!

The current issue of Africa has a great obituary to Fr. Liam de Veale who died on August 13th last, Liam worked in Eldoret, and Ortum in Kenya – growing up in a bilingual household in Tipperary, Liam had no difficulty learning Swahili and Pokot!

It also has a splendid article on La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

In the editorial of The Far East Fr. Donal O’Keeffe writes powerfully on Mission: “Missionaries believed they were going out to tell people about God but it was actually God inviting them to go and see God’s diverse works in other places”.

The Messenger focuses on the Jesuit mission in Nepal written by Fr. Leo Cachat SJ. He talks about his initial disappointment at the prospect of teaching students English and Mathematics back in 1961 as he began his mission work in Nepal, until he was challenged by his Superior: “Leo, have you come to Nepal to bring Christ or to find Christ?” – it challenged him to move beyond the teaching to live amongst the Nepalese, discovering Christ, not only as Lord of the Christians but as Lord of all people.

Mirror, the Aid to the Church in Need concentrates on Fatima in this special centenary year and how Our Lady’s message to the three children, Lucia, Francesco and Jacinta was essentially a missionary message, quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict: “anyone who believes that the prophetic mission of Fatima is completed is mistaken”.

Sadly Outlook and The Word magazines are no longer published; demand for Missionary Magazines is not what it was when I and my classmates traversed the roads of Meath collecting coins to fill those small brown self-seal envelopes.

This year’s Mission Sunday theme is ‘Reach Out, Spread the Joy’.

This is exactly what the Kiltegan’s, the Columban’s, the Jesuit’s and many more religious and an increasing number of lay missionaries have been doing.

The magazines tell us their story, their narrative.

The magazines bring us to places we may never dare to travel to.

The magazines allow us to encounter a people, a race, a tribe who without Irish missionaries would never have heard of Christ.

The Mission Sunday theme comes out of the context of next Augusts’ World Meeting of Families in Dublin: ‘The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World’.

Joy is a very rich word – as a mnemonic it can be broken into three words that best describe: J for Jesus; O for Others and Y for You.

We cannot bring Christ to others – we cannot become evangelisers – if we haven’t encountered Him ourselves.

The ceremony on Friday week last here in the Cathedral celebrating children and mission, reminded us children have no problem with missionary concepts or motivations, it is often we the adults who complicate things.

We will never roll back the clock again to Christine Devanney’s class in the early 70’s in Slane, but it shouldn’t stop us trying to make the missionary message more real and relevant for the Ireland of 2017.

I encourage your generous response, as always to todays special appeal in support of the missions.