Students around Australia celebrate Extraordinary Missionary Month
Students and teachers around the country have gathered to celebrate the Extraordinary Missionary Month, joining bishops at various liturgies and masses this week.
In and outside Brisbane’s St Stephen’s Cathedral it was all smiles, snags and soccer balls as fourteen schools from around the archdiocese packed into the precinct for the Children’s Mission Day Liturgy on Wednesday.
The annual celebration, held each year on the Wednesday following World Mission Sunday, coincided with the launch of Socktober, the mission agency’s school fundraising initiative.
The day began with a liturgy, with students from the various schools present taking a lead in proceedings. The readings, prayers of intercession, and a special offertory procession were all conducted by students from local primary and secondary Catholic schools.
Father Odinaka Nwadike, who celebrated the liturgy, says it was a special day. ‘The work of Catholic Mission is always inspiring, and with all the missionaries, we are called to evangelise. So, to celebrate Children's Mission Day with the schoolchildren means a lot.’
The liturgy especially focused on Ghana, which is at the centre of Catholic Mission’s 2019 World Mission Schools Appeal. Father Nwadike, who was born in neighbouring Nigeria, says the liturgy represented a strong connection among Catholics across nations.
‘As I said to the children, as someone from Africa working in Australia, my mission is here. But today the children focus on mission in Ghana. The Church in Australia thinks of the Church in Africa, but we who are from Africa are doing the work of mission here. Every country, irrespective of where you are, has something to offer. It doesn’t matter where you are from; the thing that matters is the heart that gives.’
The same day, in the nation’s capital, over 600 school students and young adults from across the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn attended the annual Archdiocesan Mission Mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral.
In his homily, Archbishop Christopher Prowse explained to the schoolchildren Pope Francis’ desire for Missionary Disciples to be attentive to “Heart, Head, and Hands”.
‘Our Missionary life might begin in the heart, but it never stops there,’ Archbishop Prowse said. ‘It also involves the head.
‘It is not just simply feelings but also it is good strong arguments and good strong reasons for believing that God is with us.’
Apart from “persuading the world to come closer to God through our minds,” Archbishop Prowse told students that Missionary Disciples need to use their hands to help others and this reflects what is in their hearts.
In reflecting on the many events which occurred during the Mission Month, Catholic Mission Director in Canberra and Goulburn, Cathy Ransom said that she was particularly pleased with the uptake of the Mission Rosary.
‘Schools are praying the rosary every day throughout the month of October in different ways. Some pray a decade a day for one of the continents, then pray the whole rosary once a week. This Mission Rosary has been extremely popular with students with over 4,000 rosaries distributed across schools within the Archdiocese,’ she said.
Bishop Anthony Randazzo will never forget his first mass as Bishop-elect of Broken Bay, which he concelebrated with Fr David Ranson at Our Lady of Rosary Cathedral in Waitara on Thursday.
It was the annual Children’s Mission Mass for the diocese, organised by Catholic Mission, which brought around 400 students from 13 schools across northern Sydney and the NSW Central Coast together in celebration of mission.
It was an extra special occasion for Bishop Randazzo, who had a chance to connect with many of the young people of the Diocese he will officially lead from November 4. He spoke of the call for all to be missionary, emphasised in Jesus' words in Matthew 25:40, "What you do to the least of these ... you do unto me."
Dorothy Makasa, Mission Education Officer for Catholic Mission, said the collaboration of the Bishop, clergy, students and staff of the Diocese was inspirational.‘We are truly grateful to the Broken Bay Diocese as they organise this mass specifically for all their schools to engage in mission through fundraising and through the prayers at the Mission Mass,’ she said.
Matthew Poynting from Catholic Mission spoke to the students and teachers before the Mass, sharing his perspective about what mission means, a view formed through travelling and meeting beneficiaries of the projects the organisation supports.
‘What I have found in my job with Catholic Mission is that wherever in the world there is need … the Church is there to provide what support it can,’ he said. ‘If you take one thing away from today, it’s that mission—that work of making the world a better place as God intends—is not just for one organisation or one person to do. It’s for all of us, and that means you.’
He was followed by Kate Adamo, Religious Education Coordinator at St Martin’s Primary School in Davidson, who spoke of her school’s engagement with Socktober, Catholic Mission’s school engagement initiative. Ms Adamo said that, despite enrolling fewer than 100 students, St Martin’s punched above its weight in “socking it to poverty”.
‘Our students took on the challenge of raising money using the online Socktober portal with an aim to match our 2018 total, but with the work of Sister Stan and the Nazareth Home at the forefront of their minds,’ she said. ‘If you’re wondering how much was generously donated to Catholic Mission via our students’ and their families’ hard work, it was $5,972.’
It was an extraordinary week in this Extraordinary Missionary Month, called by Pope Francis for October 2019 to reflect on and celebrate the missionary works of the Church.
Following Perth’s Archdiocesan Anti-Poverty Mass held last week, Brisbane, Canberra and Broken Bay became the latest shining examples of students and teachers taking up the Pope’s call and doing something extraordinary for God.
With Catholic Voice.