, 20 October, 2020 / 10:38 AM
The call to be a Missionary has no boundaries of whether or not one has been called into Priesthood or Religious Life, a Catholic Prelate in Nigeria has underscored, outlining the various roles of all Christians in participating in the Church’s mission.
In his Sunday, October 18 homily marking World Mission Sunday, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese emphasized that every baptized Christian has the innate ability to advance the mission of Christ in the world.
“Today, the Church calls us to see God as one who sends, and He is sending you and I, indeed all of us, to proclaim in words and deeds, the Good News of salvation,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
He added, “Every baptized Christian has a “missionary DNA”, meaning that at baptism we are infused with the very essence of what defines and makes us Christians, bearers and proclaimers of the Good News.”
On October 18, Catholics celebrated World Mission Sunday, an annual event when Catholics across the globe renew their commitment to their missionary vocation and implore God’s graces for the missions worldwide.
The Nigerian Prelate observed that the call for all baptized members of the Church to participate in Missionary work is found in the words, “go forth” that a Priest says at the end of each Eucharistic celebration.
“When the priest says, “ite missa est” at the end of Mass, he simply enjoins us to “go forth” and announce the Gospel,” he said.
The Local Ordinary of Abuja called on the people of God in the West African country to support the work of missionaries working in hardship areas by offering prayers and material donations.
“Let us give a thought and pray for those countries where missionaries are forced to preach and minister in hiding, some of them including parts of Nigeria where Christians suffer systematic violence or serious discrimination in many forms or cannot get land to build churches,” he said.
Recounting the work of missionaries in Africa’s most populous nation, Archbishop Kaigama narrated, “We are beneficiaries of the sufferings and deaths of countless missionaries who sought to pass on the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He went on to say that in 1862, missionaries belonging to the Society of African Missions (SMA) arrived in Lagos in Nigeria and in 1885, the Holy Ghost missionaries (Spiritans) arrived in Onitsha, also a city in the West African country.
In the Prelate’s village in Taraba State, Nigeria, the Augustinian Missionaries arrived in 1945. He said that he is the product of the missionaries.
“Without their missionary dedication that bore so much fruits, you would not have had the present Secretary General of the CSN (Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria) or the present Archbishop of Abuja,” he said.
The Local Ordinary of Abuja said that the COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing that have been put across by different governments “should not affect our love, caring for creation and for one another.”
He explained that on World Mission Sunday, a special collection is taken up everywhere in the world and is given toward the support of the work of evangelization in the developing world.
“All Catholics are encouraged to give, no matter how small,” the 61-old Nigerian Prelate urged, explaining that the collections are used under the direction of the Holy Father for the purposes of creating new dioceses, building new rectories, convents, training of seminarians, catechists, supporting pastoral projects, and providing emergency aid to refugees and migrants, among other uses.
“Today, even very poor churches and countries, take up collections to give what they can materially,” he emphasized, and added, “The Coronavirus pandemic must not be a barrier or cripple our response to give what we can.”
The Prelate reiterated Pope Francis’ message for this year’s World Mission Sunday saying, “We find ourselves precisely when we give ourselves to others”.
In the words of the Holy Father, Archbishop Kaigama said, “The call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbor presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer.”
Meanwhile, the Archbishop expressed his appreciation for the youth in the West African country who have resorted to peaceful means in protesting against police brutality in the country.
“We are happy that our youths are not using violence as a means of putting across their message to those in political authority in the ongoing protest against police brutality,” he said.
The protests are “a symptom of buried grievances and time bombs planted over decades by the failure to develop political, social and economic options in favor of the youth and the future generations,” he said.
“Poverty and social neglect are worse than coronavirus and they can trigger very negative reactions,” Archbishop Kaigama further said.
He added, “We however urge our youths to pursue justice in the most peaceful way, but we say to our leaders, O that today you listen to the voice of our young people, harden not your hearts.”
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