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Mission Sunday a Challenge to “bring good news” and Hope: Nigerian Catholic Archbishop

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama in procession with the faithful of the All Saints Dutse Alhaji Parish of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese on 24 October 2021. Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja/Facebook

The celebration of Mission Sunday challenges Christians to be messengers of good news and hope, and not bearers of bad news of insecurity, a Catholic Archbishop in Nigeria has said, and called for respect for human life.

In his Sunday, October 24 message at All Saints Dutse Alhaji Parish of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama noted that today, “more than ever before”, the world is in “urgent need” of messengers of hope for impoverished areas.

“Our celebration of Mission Sunday challenges us to bring good news through good conduct, discipline, hard work, respect for human life and truth, instead of the bad news of insecurity and the destruction of lives and property; to bring back to the fold those who have gone astray or are now simply lukewarm about God and religion in general,” Archbishop Kaigama said in his message on Mission Sunday.

The Nigerian Archbishop added, “Today, more than ever before, the world is in urgent need of messengers and agents of hope and compassion for impoverished areas which need infrastructure such as schools, churches, hospitals, orphanages, dispensaries, etc.”

It is not enough for the people to say they are practicing Christians, or just watch as things happen in the Church without being actively involved, Archbishop Kaigama said.

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He made reference to the theme of Pope Francis’ message for the 2021 World Mission, ‘We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard’, and explained, “Once we experience the power of God’s love we cannot help but proclaim, live out and share what we have seen and heard.”

The Archbishop’s message to missionaries is to be missionary disciples of Jesus Christ “in a world held bound by hate and injustice and blinded by the darkness of sin and error.”

“The Pope urges us to turn societal challenges, conflicts and difficulties into opportunities for mission,” he said, and added, “We must not be blind to the plight of the poor and needy around us and so, we must be missionaries of social justice, equity and fairness; in order to build a well-ordered society.”

Archbishop Kaigama further said that the Holy Father’s message for this year’s Mission Sunday describes the current situation in the world in which the Church has been called and sent to evangelize, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic.

He makes reference to Pope Francis who said, “The pandemic has brought to the fore and amplified the pain, the solitude, the poverty and the injustices experienced by so many people. It has unmasked our false sense of security and revealed the brokenness and polarization gradually growing in our midst…. There is a temptation to disguise and justify indifference and apathy in the name of healthy social distancing. Hence, there is an urgent need for the mission of compassion, which can turn that necessary distancing into an opportunity for encounter, care and promotion.”

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The Archbishop of Abuja said Mission Sunday is a moment to support those in evangelization through prayers and material support.

“Let this Mission Sunday motivate us to renew our baptismal commitment to mission to pray for all those who are working as missionaries, especially in difficult mission areas,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, the funds raised all over the Catholic world will be sent to the Vatican and redistributed to support evangelization, social and pastoral programs in different parts of the world.

“We encourage Catholics to support this mission of the Church and not to hold back what we can offer materially for the sake of others,” the Nigerian Archbishop said.

He shared, “I often tell Catholics and non-Catholics who say the ‘Catholic Church is very rich’ or ‘the Pope sends money to all Catholic Bishops’ that the Catholic Church is blessed with spiritual, pastoral and human resources because generous people like you contribute to the collections such as Mission Sunday, Peter’s pence, St. Peter the Apostle, Holy Childhood, Holy Land collection, etc., to support the Pope in his universal mission.”

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The Local Ordinary of Abuja acknowledged with appreciation those who sacrifice for evangelization in the Church, saying, “Thank you for your generosity. Please, keep it up.”