Celebrating our missionary identity

29 Oct 2008

By therecord

childrens_mission_mass.jpgBy Robert Hiini

Showing solidarity with the poor children of the world and recommitting to their missionary identity, students from 58 schools throughout Perth gathered to celebrate the sixth annual Children’s Mission Mass on October 22.

Students from 18 Catholic high schools, 38 Catholic primary schools and 2 public schools descended upon Sacred Heart Parish Thornlie in an event jointly convened by Catholic Mission and the Perth World Youth Day (WYD) Office.
School students made up the readers, servers and gift bearers with music provided by a youth choir made up of Sacred Heart Primary, Mercedes, Corpus Christi, Lumen Christi and Willeton Senior High School students under the direction of Thornlie parishioner Sandy Louis and Christina Vinci, a year one teacher at Sacred Heart.
Francis Leong, the Diocesan Director of Catholic Mission, said the event had a threefold purpose: to encourage schools to continue their mission relationship with children in poverty throughout the world; to excite student leaders about evangelising; and to bring the whole archdiocese together to celebrate our missionary calling.
Through Catholic Mission, schools throughout Perth contribute to some of the 2700 child health initiatives coordinated by the organisation in over 160 developing countries.
However, mission is not something that is only to be practised overseas.
Matt Hodgson, Liturgy Officer at the Perth WYD Office, formulated some ideas and activities for student leaders to mission in their schools that were distributed after the Mass.
Student leaders, for example, could organise a talk at their school with a speaker who has had personal experience working with the poor or of World Youth Day.
In his homily, Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton told students that the Holy Spirit was ready to do wonderful things in their lives, and through them, in the lives of other people.
He spoke about the 15 year old Therese Martin, later declared Saint Therese of Lisieux, who jumped Papal security in Rome to beg Leo XIII to allow her to become a nun, having a strong desire to mission.
While her desire to be a missionary in the field was never realised, “she was a missionary already because she was concerned about the people in the world,” the bishop said.
“Let us never forget that we are missionaries where we are, in our homes, in our schools and at work. Giving witness to the Holy Spirit working in our life.”
Anita Parker, the newly announced Director of Catholic Youth Ministry (CYM), distributed a business card-sized quiz to the students, asking them questions designed to provoke their own meditation on mission:
“Who is the Holy Spirit? How can we use power for good purposes? How can I grow in living a Christian life by becoming a witness for Jesus in today’s society?”
Ms Parker encouraged students to visit CYM’s website – www.cym.com.au – for more ideas on how to turn a desire to mission into practical realities.
Catholic Mission Director, Francis Leong, said that mission is “the liturgy after the liturgy” – which, like the Mass, is about engaging people in something larger than ourselves.
Quoting Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Mr Leong said that “a Church that is not missionary is not the authentic Church of Christ’.
He said that mission only makes sense after the Eucharistic liturgy, where we receive the commission of Christ to go out and love in His name.
“Mission is the work of God in bringing about healing in the world, making a difference and helping to make it a better place.”