World Mission Sunday, celebrated on Oct. 18 this year, is the Catholic Church’s annual worldwide Eucharistic celebration for the missions and missionaries around the world. It is a day when every Catholic Church in the world, from the grandest cathedral to the smallest mission outpost, pauses to acclaim the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, one of our church’s four Pontifical Mission Societies.

The societies are the pope’s main representatives to help bring the Good News of Jesus, material support and humanitarian relief to build the Catholic Church. For the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, this World Mission Sunday begins a year-long commemoration of the 110th anniversary of the Pontifical Mission Societies’ support of overseas missionaries and their ministries.

Who would have known that the entire world would be asked to stop gathering, stop shaking hands, stop hugging each other and stop seeing loved ones. Our world is different, it has changed in many ways.  Even though our lives have changed and we do not know what the future holds for us, one thing remains unchanged: missionaries throughout the world are in remote areas spreading the Good News of Jesus.

The societies support these heroes, these missionaries. They are providing food and medical assistance to those where no one else will visit: the elderly, the orphans, the mentally impaired.  And along with this help they continue, regardless of the situation, to spread the Gospel in word and action.

For World Mission Sunday, Pope Francis asks us to respond to our baptismal call to mission by saying, “Here I am, send me.” With this call, God gives us the grace to live out our mission wherever he has placed us – in our offices, our schools and our homes.

It is the response we can endeavor to live out today and throughout the societies’ 110th anniversary year-long celebration. This response is displayed through our prayer, through our participation in the Eucharist and in our generosity to the World Mission Sunday collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Archbishop Nelson Pérez echoes Pope Francis’ reminders to us on World Mission Sunday, “that, as baptized Christians, we are called personally to mission, to bring Christ’s love to those most forgotten around the world. Jesus is God the Father’s own missionary; He asks us to respond to this call to mission, this invitation to ‘step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbor.’ What will your answer be? ‘Here I am, send me’ is the response we will all endeavor to live out this World Mission Sunday and each day.”

Please join us this Sunday as we celebrate World Mission Sunday and the 110th anniversary of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. On World Mission Sunday — and every day — missionaries need your prayers and support through the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Here are some examples of missionaries and the work they do in each mission area around the world:

In Africa, care is provided at some 6,500 Catholic hospitals and clinics. This care is critical for people in communities in remote villages who suffer from loneliness and neglect.  This is happening to both the young and elderly in Africa. Answer “Here I am, send me” to help provide medical care of a young child left alone or an elderly senior whose family lacks the funds to help them.

Throughout Africa and the Mission lands, there is also a great need to be able to provide free health screenings for diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Mission clinics help people prevent and or treat these serious medical conditions, but cost and distance, as some are more than 40 miles away, are deterrents to good health.

Help Missionaries on World Mission Sunday, like the Adorer Missionary Sisters of the Poor, set up screening clinics for the sick, old and orphaned.

In Latin America, catechists bring the Good News of God’s love to families. In remote spots in Latin America and worldwide, thousands of little chapels are the building blocks of our missionary work. Each chapel is home to a faith community led by catechists who have been trained by missionaries who heard “… send me.”  

With Sunday Mass usually only once a month, it is the catechists who help keep the Catholic faith flourishing. Your donation on World Mission Sunday can help educate a catechist who will teach about Jesus.

In Europe, new churches are being built to welcome the faithful, renewed after years of persecution. Although many missionaries continued to teach the word of God during political oppression, living the “Here I am …” of our Lord, now is time for open worship.

In this era of renewal, permanent churches for communities to gather in faith are needed. Your sacrificial offering on World Mission Sunday helps to buy lumber and bricks to build churches.

In Asia, 6 million children receive an education in 15,000 church-run elementary schools. It is hard to underestimate how much more self-esteem and confidence comes with the ability to read, write and keep pace socially with other children.

In mission areas, missionaries like the Dominican Sisters of Mary Immaculate become teachers in their response “Here I am, send me.” The sisters provide education to low-income students in the diocese of Bui Chu. Religious sisters and brothers alike encourage graduates to pursue higher education to create a better future for themselves, their family and ultimately their village by returning to help educate younger children.

To do this, the children need books, pencils, desks and lunch — all which your donation to World Mission Sunday can supply.

In the isles of the Pacific Ocean, 3,500 religious bring the Lord’s mercy and peace, working in some 9,500 orphanages. Having been left on their own by their impoverished extended families, many children in the mission — where malnutrition is rampant and children suffer greatly — look to the church as their existing mothers and fathers.

Catholic religious brothers and sisters rely on the help you provide on World Mission Sunday, here and around the world, to assure these children receive three hot meals per day, address their academic needs and provide health care.

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Michele Meiers is assistant director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Learn more at PhillyMissions.org.