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Pope Francis declared October 2019 as “Extraordinary Missionary Month” (EMM) during World Mission Sunday in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter on Mission, “Maximum Illud.”

“[T]he aim of fostering an increased awareness of the missio ad gentes (mission to the nations) and taking up again with renewed fervor the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity,” Pope Francis wrote in his letter to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples last October 2017.

Maximum Illud is a document “on the activity of missionaries in the world” which presents a changed understanding of mission.

The document called for the preparation of missionaries, understanding of the culture of the people, promotion of the local clergy, right of autonomy of the mission churches, and separation between colonization and Christian mission.

The Pope emphasized that the Church’s missionary commitment is to give “fresh evangelical impulse to Church’s work of preaching and bringing the salvation of Jesus Christ to the world.”

He also stressed that the role of the mission is not to spread “religious ideology” or “lofty ethical teaching.”

Fr. Cielito Almazan, O.F.M., minister provincial of the Orders of Friar Minor, said the purpose of celebrating EMM is to encourage Christians to participate in the mission.

“To enhance the spread of the gospel message through the maximization or optimization of mass media [a]nd inspire Christians to get involved in the mission by not only giving money but also to pray, reflect [on it],” Almazan said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

Almazan also emphasized that both the clergy and laity should collaborate in upholding the mission.

“Our collective mission as clergy and religious is to closely coordinate or work together as [p]rimary agents of evangelization,” Almazan said.

“[T]he laity can engage in charity or solidarity work with the poor and suffering, so that their actions may become meaningful and not become a mere social action which can be done even by an atheist who has a heart for humanity,” Almazan added.

“Pista ng Misyon”

Catholics observed the 93rd World Mission Sunday last Oct. 18 through the Pista ng Misyon led by Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.

In his homily, Tagle urged the faithful to open their eyes to the sufferings of others and be harbingers of charity during the Eucharistic celebration.

“Ang misyon na ito ay hindi pansarili [d]ahil sinusugo tayo ng Panginoon ng sama-sama. [K]ahit na ikaw ay hindi mayaman… sa iyong maliliit na pagkilos, ikaw ay nagmimisyon ng pag-ibig sa kapwa,” Tagle said.

(This mission is not only for personal intentions because the Lord is sending us to mission together. Even if you’re not rich, with your small actions, you are a missionary of charity.)

Tagle reminded Catholics that every baptized person has a mission in life to fulfill.

“Mission should not only be associated with the ordained or those in consecrated life. It is associated and linked to baptism. Every baptized person, living the life of Christ by sharing in his death and resurrection, is also sent on a mission,” he said.

Msgr. Esteban Lo, national director of the Pontifical Mission Society in the Philippines, said EMM was established to carry on the mission of the Church.

“The Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 was meant to renew our mission awareness and commitment. Celebrating EMM is over and done but living out EMM as being Baptized and Sent [by Christ] continues,” Lo said in an interview with the Varsitarian.


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