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Best practices to teach the spirit of mission

 

USCCB Committee On World Missions

2005

Bishops

  1. Pray frequently, recalling that you are a part of the Church’s universal mission. You “have been consecrated not only for a particular diocese, but for the salvation of the entire world” (Redemptoris Missio, no. 63, citing Ad Gentes, no. 38). 1
  2. Bishops and their priests must think and live in union with the universal Church, becoming more and more imbued with the mind of Christ and the Church. “The communion of the young churches with the whole Church must remain intimate.” (Ad Gentes, no. 19).
  3. Help furnish young churches with subsidies, which principally serve the growth of the local church and the maturity of Christian life. (See Ad Gentes, no. 19.)
  4. Launch common pastoral efforts and suitable projects in favor of increasing the number of vocations to the diocesan clergy and to religious congregations, of discerning them more readily, and of training them more efficiently. (See Ad Gentes, no. 19.)
  5. Episcopal conferences should see to it that biblical, theological, spiritual, and pastoral refresher courses are held at fixed intervals. The purposes of these courses should be to provide clergy with a more adequate knowledge of theological sciences and of pastoral methods. Priests must carry out their tasks in a variety of circumstances and amid many changing conditions. (See Ad Gentes, no. 20.)
  6. Individual dioceses should call missionaries whom the Holy See may have on hand for the purpose of helping certain groups—those who are kept away from embracing the Catholic faith because they cannot adapt themselves to the peculiar form adopted by the Church in certain regions. The Second Vatican Council desires that such conditions be provided for in a special way, until such time as all the Christians concerned can gather together in one community. Dioceses should receive such missionaries gladly, and support their undertakings effectively. (See Ad Gentes, no. 20.)
  7. Young churches should participate as soon as possible in the universal missionary work of the Church by sending their own missionaries to proclaim the Gospel all over the world, even though they themselves may be suffering from a shortage of clergy. These young churches reach a certain measure of perfection when they themselves take an active part in the missionary effort toward other nations. (See Ad Gentes, no. 20.)
  8. Promote the baptismal call to mission by celebrating World Mission Sunday in all parishes, encouraging prayer and sacrifice. Have a special celebration at a cathedral to recognize the universal work of evangelization.
  9. Activate or continue to support a local archdiocesan or diocesan office of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Urge the director to establish a mission advisory board to help in mission animation throughout the diocese or archdiocese. Small dioceses may want to cluster in order to support an active mission office for mission animation.
  10. Provided a general fund is not neglected, build a relationship with a mission diocese and have the home diocese learn more about the universal work of the Church. This union between communities ought to be visible and to contribute to the mutual development of the dioceses. (See Ad Gentes, no. 37. )
  11. Send a letter to principals and pastors endorsing the work of the Holy Childhood Association in parochial schools and in parish religious education programs.
  12. Publish in the local Catholic newspaper ways that the diocesan patron was missionary.
  13. Seek sponsorship for a “chair of missiology” in the province seminary.
  14. Select suitable priests who, “after a period of pastoral work, would pursue higher studies even at foreign universities, especially at Rome, or at other institutes of learning.” (Ad Gentes, no. 16.)
  15. In concert with the mission office, host a province program to promote the work of the missions among local clergy and all the People of God. “The Church on earth is by its very nature missionary.” (Ad Gentes, no. 2.)
  16. Encourage participation in the Missionary Cooperative Plan as a practical education for parishioners on the work of the global Church and as a means of financial support for the missions.
  17. Realizing how urgent the need is for spreading the Gospel in the world, foster vocations both locally and in the mission fields. (See Ad Gentes, no. 38.)
  18. Consider sending an interested member of the clergy to be more thoroughly prepared in missiological institutes and in other universities that he might exercise certain special duties more effectively. (See Ad Gentes, no. 26.)
  19. Recommend the study of Redemptoris Missio, The Church in America (Ecclesia in America), and the pastoral letter, Teaching the Spirit of Mission Ad Gentes: Continuing Pentecost Today in seminaries, catechist trainings, and other venues.
  20. Remember that the works of the Pontifical Mission Societies are to be promoted in all dioceses and the statutes faithfully observed, especially those regarding the transmission of subsidies. (See Ad Gentes, no. 36.)
  21. Missionary zeal is contagious. Speak to brother bishops regarding efforts to bring the Good News “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
  22. Encourage the understanding and use of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s “ mission rosary” in October, May, or any time. (www.worldmissions-catholicchurch.org/spof/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=2&tabid=18)
  23. Sponsor a “mission seminar,” remembering that “all priests must have the mind and the heart of missionaries.” (Redemptoris Missio, no. 67.)
  24. Every three to five years, incorporate an evangelization or mission theme into clergy retreats.
  25. Promote the regular use of “mission intentions” in parish liturgies throughout the year.
  26. Provide the opportunity for presbyterate members to have a short-term mission experience. Seek to collaborate with a seminary or diocese already providing such experiences, such as Scranton or New Orleans.
  27. Invite American missionaries to “tell their story” in parish pulpits or schools when they return home. Invite those priests and religious who come to the United States as missionaries to speak about the work of evangelization in their home dioceses.
  28. Encourage the local Catholic Schools Office and the Office of Religious Education to work in collaboration with the mission office and the Holy Childhood Association, perhaps to co-sponsor special events in the month of October, which is mission month.
  29. Ensure that the editor of the local diocesan Catholic newspaper regularly includes articles about the work of the global Church.
  30. Resolve to see that the libraries in seminaries, and Catholic colleges and high schools have access to resources on current missiology and periodicals related to the work of mission congregations.
  31. Just as adults celebrate World Mission Sunday, urge pastors and principals to plan a special parish day in October for parochial school and religious education young people, such as a Children’s Mission Day.
  32. Endorse the work of missionary congregations in the local neighborhood and in the broader Church.
  33. Raise up among the People of God, especially among the sick or the disabled, those who “will offer prayers and works of penance to God for the evangelization of the world” as modeled by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, “The Little Flower of Jesus.” (See Ad Gentes, no. 38.)
  34. Encourage the establishment of scholarships or grants in the name of missionaries from the local church who have served the universal Church
  35. Urge Catholic bookstores in the diocese to put out special displays (books, photos, artifacts) prior to Mission Sunday, in the same way they might celebrate Advent and Lent.
  36. Know those from the local diocese or province who are serving in mission territory at the present time. This information is available from the United States Catholic Mission Association (www.uscatholicmission.org).
  37. Promote missionary consciousness and activity and foster cooperative relationships between dioceses and other episcopal conferences. Seek out ways of securing—as far as possible—an equitable distribution of assistance to the missions. (See Ad Gentes, no. 38.)
  38. Host visitors from a faith partner overseas, or send a representative or a group from a parish on a missionary sojourn or short-term mission trip.
  39. Form partnerships with other Catholic dioceses across the world to build up churches that are struggling.

Rectors / University and Seminary Professors

  1. Professors in seminaries and universities will teach young people the true state of the world and of the Church, so that the necessity of a more intense evangelization of non - Christians will become clear to them and will nurture their zeal. (See Ad Gentes, no. 39)
  2. Seminarians should be filled with “that truly catholic spirit which looks beyond the boundaries of diocese, country or rite to respond to the needs of the whole Church, always ready in spirit to preach the Gospel everywhere” (Redemptoris Missio, no. 67, citing Optatam Totius, no. 20).2
  3. Seek ways to motivate seminary professors to incorporate missiology throughout the regular curriculum, such as Patristics, Church History, or Ecclesiology. Include themes from the Old Testament and the New Testament that correspond with mission and evangelization.
  4. Contact the USCCB Committee on World Mission to present a mission workshop in the local seminary every three to four years.
  5. Require that faculty have a basic understanding of missiology and inculturation. Instruct seminarians to “the condition of the world and the Church, so that the need for a more intense evangelization. . . will be clear to them and feed their zeal.” (Ad Gentes, no. 39.)
  6. Bring in missionaries from time to time to celebrate the liturgy and to offer homilies. Invite missionaries for study days to enhance appreciation for the global work of evangelization.
  7. Offer an annual day of mission reflection. Focus on a specific academic theme but promote the pastoral and practical point of view for seminarians.
  8. Advise librarians to subscribe to mission magazines to have good information available for seminarians.
  9. Toward the end of formation, require that students complete a study/reflection paper on a particular facet of evangelization/mission.
  10. Arrange with the local director of the Pontifical Mission Societies for a tour of the diocesan mission office as an opportunity to learn more about the four societies.
  11. Celebrate World Mission Sunday as a seminary faith community or take part in a broader celebration, such as Mission Sunday at the Cathedral
  12. In studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council, see to it that ample opportunity is focused on Ad Gentes.
  13. Annually, perhaps in October—Mission Awareness Month—arrange for a global display of artifacts at seminaries. Utilize real stories and pictures from mission magazines.
  14. Seminary professors—in their “dogmatic, biblical, moral, and historical subjects”—should “focus attention on their missionary aspects, so that . . . a missionary awareness will be formed in future priests.” (Ad Gentes, no. 39.)
  15. Promote the fact that every priestly ministry shares in the universal scope of the mission that Christ entrusted to the Apostles. (See Redemptoris Missio, no. 23.)
  16. Celebrate the liturgy with missionaries or priest from overseas, especially on World Mission Sunday.
  17. Celebrate a special multi-cultural mission liturgy.

Priests and Deacons

  1. Priests personally represent Christ, and are collaborators of the order of bishops in that threefold sacred task which by its very nature belongs to the mission of the Church. Therefore, they should fully understand that their life is also consecrated to the service of the missions. Now because by means of their own ministry - which consists principally in the Eucharist which perfects the Church - they are in communion with Christ the Head and are leading others to this communion, they cannot help but feel how much is yet wanting to the fullness of that Body, and how much therefore must be done that it may grow from day to day. They shall therefore plan their pastoral care in such a way that it will serve to spread the Gospel among non - Christians. (Ad Gentes, no. 39)
  2. In their pastoral activities, priests should stir up and preserve amid the faithful a zeal for the evangelization of the world, by instructing them in sermons and in Christian doctrine courses about the Church's task of announcing Christ to all nations. (See Ad Gentes, no. 39)
  3. Enlighten Christian families about the necessity and the honor of fostering missionary vocations among their own sons and daughters, by promoting mission fervor in young people from the schools and Catholic associations so that among them there may arise future heralds of the Gospel. (See Ad Gentes, no. 39)
  4. Teach the faithful to pray for the missions. (See Ad Gentes, no. 39)
  5. Ask alms from the faithful for the missions, becoming like beggars for Christ and for the salvation of souls. (See Ad Gentes, no. 39)
  6. Support the yearly visit of a missionary to the parish as part of the Missionary Cooperative Plan of your diocese.
  7. Celebrate the liturgy with missionaries or priest from overseas especially on World Mission Sunday.
  8. Celebrate a special multi-cultural mission liturgy.

Parents

  1. Cooperate in the Church's work of evangelization; as witnesses and at the same time as living instruments, share in her saving mission. (See Ad Gentes, no. 41)
  2. Cooperate in the work of evangelization by nurturing in yourselves and in others a knowledge and love of the missions. (See Ad Gentes, no. 41)
  3. Stimulate vocations in your own family, in Catholic associations, and in the schools by offering subsidies of every kind that you may offer to others that gift of Faith which you have received gratis. (See Ad Gentes, no. 41)
  4. Let your lives be a witness for Christ among non - Christians, according to the words of the Apostle: "Do not be a stumbling - block to Jews and Greeks and to the Church of God, even as I myself in all things please all men, not seeking what is profitable to myself but to the many, that they may be saved." (1 Cor. 10:32-33). (See Ad Gentes, no. 41)
  5. Labor and collaborate with others in rightly regulating the affairs of social and economic life. With special care, devote yourselves to the education of children and young people by means of different kinds of schools, which should be considered not only as the most excellent means of forming and developing Christian youth, but also as a valuable public service, especially in the developing nations, working toward the uplifting of human dignity, and toward better living conditions. (See Ad Gentes, no. 12)

Director of Religious Education / Catechists / Teachers

  1. “Catechists are specialists, direct witnesses and irreplaceable evangelizers who . . . represent the basic strength of Christian communities, especially in the young churches.” (Redemptoris Missio, no. 73.)
  2. Mission animation in parochial schools and parish religious education programs can be readily coordinated by one person—the mission educator—who should maintain a relationship with the local mission office for the sharing of ideas and resources.
  3. The Holy Childhood Association (“Children Helping Children”) is the ordinary means of mission animation among elementary-age school children. The association’s emphasis is on Baptism’s call to continue the mission of Jesus through prayer and sacrifice.
  4. Children learning their alphabet can be introduced to some of the cultures and customs of their sisters and brothers of the universal Church, as in A is for Africa, B is for Brazil, etc.
  5. Stories of missionary saints and today’s missionaries can capture the imagination and generosity of middle school students.
  6. Host a mission week in the local parochial school. Each day focus on the awareness of a different continent. Tie in the use of the mission rosary initiated by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Ask various classes to research food, music, religion, and customs of a continent and prepare a display.
  7. Utilize the Holy Childhood Association’s Around the World Map and Globe Program during Advent or Lent. Contact the local mission office or the national office for specifics.
  8. Invite students to create a personal mission statement— I use my mouth to. . . I use my hands to. . . I use my money to. . . etc. Every child is a missionary bringing the Good News of Jesus.
  9. Every week in class pray for a specific part of the world. Each day before prayer share one fact about that country.
  10. Work out a prayer acrostic for students using the word MISSION (or something similar). Each letter might stand for a particular prayer intention of a missionary (M: for a motorcycle so the missionary can get to his people) or for a country that child might like to visit and why (S: I would like to visit Siberia to bring the good news of Jesus).
  11. During English class have students write letters to hometown missionaries serving the global Church. Let the missionaries know that the children are praying for the needs of the mission. Think of creative ways to make the letter-writing fun for the students and informative for the missionaries.
  12. Bring inexpensive adhesive strips and copies of the local newspaper or mission magazines to class. Help students sort through stories and name a place where the healing presence of Jesus is needed. Then during a time of prayer, take a flat map or globe and place an adhesive over the country that is hurting. Or write words like God, food, peace, love, bread or other Gospel values on the adhesives. Invite the children to place the strips on the map where people are hurting for those gifts.
  13. Use adhesive strips for a fund raiser for the missions. Prepare a set of clear labels with a mission Scripture passage such as “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21) or the name of a particular mission country like Sudan. Sell the adhesives for a reasonable price and encourage students to use them as bookmarks for a text book or the Bible. The strips will serve as a continual reminder of mission. Profits can be sent to the Holy Childhood Association.
  14. Ask parochial school or religious education students print out the great commission from Matthew 28:19-20. Use a dictionary to find the definition of the word commission. Discuss who Jesus was commissioning and how each person is commissioned to help people know Jesus. Have the students make a construction-paper frame and bring the passage home to put on their bedroom mirrors.
  15. Get the students involved in making a “love chain” on Mission Sunday or sometime during October, which is mission month. In the vestibule of the church, have strips of paper where people can write their names. Staple the name closed and connect it to a chain. Add in the name of missionary saints, people from the diocese working in missions, and other people loved by the community. Print a sign that says something like: “Each link in this chain has the name of a missionary who spreads the love of Christ here at home or in another country. You can help our foreign missionaries by your prayers and generous monetary gifts.” As a reminder, drape the chain around the vestibule or in the sanctuary as permitted.
  16. Start a creative recycling project that helps children to identify with their peers in mission countries. Ask students to make a toy or game using only recycled materials. Remind the students that children in other countries cannot purchase toys or games at Toys-R-Us, Radio Shack, or Walmart. Other children use creativity to utilize what they have on hand to make balls, musical instruments, dolls, cars, and other playthings.
  17. A tisket, a tasket, make a different kind of basket for Easter or Thanksgiving. To raise consciousness about the plight of refugees and immigrants in the United States, contact the local refugee re-settlement office. Invite someone to speak to students on the issues that confront the refugees. Find out what kind of articles students can collect in a basket to assist the refugees.
  18. Periodically plan a Mass with a mission theme for the student body. Missio means “sent.” All are sent in Jesus’ name. Invite students to select music, write intercessions, prepare art, and show their role as missionaries sent to heal a broken world in preparation for the Mass.
  19. During Lent, invite children to bring in an article from a newspaper or a mission magazine that illustrates how Jesus continues to suffer in the world today. Staple articles to a large cross of wood or paper. Allow students time to write in their prayer journal about their feelings and thoughts.
  20. Go the extra mile for missionaries. Challenge students to collect a mile of nickels (or pennies, dimes, quarters) to support the work of global missionaries. Send the collection to the Holy Childhood Association.
  21. One way to set a financial goal for a mission offering is to add together the combined height (or weight) of a class. (ex. 28 students=1,150 inches) Encourage the class to collect a nickel for every inch, for a total of $57.50. Keep a chart to mark progress. This is also an ideal time to discuss nutrition/health issues affecting children in mission countries with students.
  22. Participate in diocesan or school-sponsored mission trips or service learning projects.

1 John Paul II, On the Permanent Validity of the Church's Missionary Mandate (Redemptoris Missio) (Washington, D.C.: USCCB-Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1990). Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity (Ad Gentes Divinitus), in Austin Flannery, ed. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Northport, NY: Costello, 1996).

2 Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree on the Training of Priests (Optatam Totius), in Austin Flannery, ed. Vatican Council II: Constitutions, Decrees, Declarations (Northport, NY: Costello, 1996)).



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