, 15 October, 2020 / 10:34 PM
Baptized members of the Catholic Church in Uganda have been encouraged to reach out to the rest of the world by offering prayers and material support that will strengthen missionary activities in hardship areas.
In statements recorded on video and shared with the people of God in the East African country, national leaders of Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) say that Mission Sunday is an opportunity for each member of the Church to assess how they can actively participate in the evangelization mission of the Church in their respective vocations.
“This year’s Mission Sunday celebration will be an opportunity to ensure that our brothers and sisters who have not received the good news can receive and those who have received it and have grown weak are encouraged to get up and be resilient to promote and live the Gospel,” Fr. Pontian Kaweesa, the National Director of PMS Uganda says in a video that was shared with ACI Africa on Wednesday, October 14.
In his message ahead of the October 18 celebration, Fr. Pontian adds, “Mission Sunday encourages each one of us to pray for this mission of the Church which cannot go on without our contribution in prayer and in material things, especially money.”
He explains that Mission Sunday, celebrated every 3rd last Sunday of October is “a special Sunday where the Pope animates the Universal Church to re-awaken the Missionary Spirit that is in each and every baptized Christian.”
Fr. Pontian further explains that the Pontifical Missionary Societies are “the arms that the Pope uses to create this awareness of the Church’s mission at different levels.”
In Uganda, PMS is divided into four arms including the Pontifical Missionary Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Pontifical Missionary Society of Holy Childhood, the Pontifical Missionary Society of the Propagation of Faith and the PMS Union, he says.
The Society of St. Peter the Apostle deals with raising awareness of those who aspire to become Priests, Religious Brothers and Religious Sisters so that they can continue the mission of the Church, Fr. Pontian explains.
The PMS of Holy Childhood, he says, raises the awareness and involvement of the children, the friends of Jesus, to see to it that the children who are the future of the Church know their faith through catechism and are able to share it among themselves.
The PMS of Propagation of Faith, on the other hand, comprises all the baptized adults who support and build the Church with their prayers and their resources. This group, the PMS official in Uganda says, builds physical churches, schools and hospitals “but are more encouraged to pray and become missionaries who can be sent out to preach the gospel to others”.
The PMS Union is another category, which brings together all agents of evangelization including members of the Clergy, Religious men and women, and the Laity who execute the missionary role of the Church in different ways.
This year’s Mission Sunday is being marked under the theme, “Here am I, send me,” which Pope Francis drew from the book of Isaiah 6:8.
Reflecting on the theme, the Ugandan Cleric says, “God is asking, whom shall I send, even in this time of COVID-19. Our response should be, here am I, send me.”
On her part, the National Secretary of the PMS of St. Peter the Apostle in Uganda, Sr. Stella Maris Niwagira says that donations collected on Mission Sunday keep Church activities running especially in difficult areas.
“The work of evangelization needs material support. Resources collected from all over the world end up with some of us in the young churches where we cannot support ourselves fully,” says Sr. Stella Maris.
She adds, “Without resources of our own, we see churches and convents being built, and we see formation going on smoothly in seminaries and in other formation houses. We also see our Catholic hospitals and schools running smoothly. Many times, we do not realize that the support we get is a fruit of the contribution that we put together on Mission Sunday.”
The member of the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver observes that in the spirituality of PMS, the aspect of material help is included to help baptized Christians reach out to other people in faraway places, “people that we may never get an opportunity to see physically”.
“We should always tell ourselves that where I cannot arrive to proclaim the Gospel, then I will reach into my pocket and send my contribution to the (missionary) who has gone physically to proclaim the gospel in a place where I will never arrive myself,” she says
In her message to the children in Uganda ahead of Mission Sunday, the National Secretary of the Missionary Holy Childhood in the country, Angella Namugenyi says, “Dear children, the Pope is reminding us that we are not in this world by our own choice, but we are called for a purpose which is to evangelize all the people to the end of the world.”
She says that on Mission Sunday, “where the world seems to be upside down”, the children are invited to pray for their fellow children.
According to the children Coordinator in Uganda, there are many children who have lost hope because of too much poverty in their families. Many others, she says, fear staying at home where they are exposed to a lot of domestic violence while others have been abused by their family members and other people they trusted.
“I am inviting all the children to pray for these children who are going through immense suffering,” Angella Namugenyi says, and invites children in the country to say two Hail Mary’s for children in all the continents of the world.
“By praying two Hail Mary’s for the children who are in America, you will be doing your mission. You will be reaching out to the children you can’t travel to meet using physical means but through prayer,” she says, and calls on older members of the Church to help the children to understand their call of evangelization.
Meanwhile, children in Kenya have been participating in virtual prayers ahead of Mission Sunday on October 18 when they will join other children on the globe in the “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” call that was sent out by the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to pray for unity and peace in the world
Announcing the initiative in a communique shared with ACI Africa October 1, ACN leadership said that the prayer initiative is expected to bring together children from all parts of the world.
“Children from around 80 countries and on all continents will be participating. From Ghana to Syria to Papua New Guinea,” ACN leadership announced, adding that the organization has provided materials for the prayer campaign in 23 languages, including Arabic and several African languages.
Pope Francis has encouraged participation in the ACN Rosary prayer initiative saying that children will, in a special, pray for the harsh COVID-19 times.
“Next Sunday, the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation promotes the One Million Children Praying the Rosary campaign for unity and peace. I encourage this beautiful event that involves children throughout the world, who will pray especially for critical situations caused by the pandemic,” the Holy father says in a report published by the Pontifical organization on Tuesday, October 13.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa