Today is World Mission Sunday. It always reminds me of my years in Sierra Leone. I never really paid much attention to Mission Sunday until I was in Africa. It was a big deal there. The Catholic Women’s Assn. always had a sale to raise money for Mission Sunday. I remember my first Mission Sunday. Fr. Tony preached and encouraged everyone to be generous for the poor of the world. I was incensed! How could he ask these extremely poor people to give to this collection. I told him so when he came over to our house. He looked at me very kindly and said, “Kathy, don’t you think that people here want to be a part of the larger world church as well?” It took me off-guard but he was right. My attitude was one of pity for the poverty of the people in Kabala. He saw their generosity and desire to help. What a lesson for me!
Several years later, when I was back in the United States, the bishop from Sierra Leone spoke of returning to some villages for the first time since the war had ravaged the country. In one of the villages they were glad to see the bishop so they could give him the money they had collected for Mission Sunday while they had no priest. How amazing is that!? In the midst of all they had suffered they still considered how to share.
I spend time every Mission Sunday praying for the same spirit and generosity I experienced in Africa. May God grant us all the Spirit of care and concern for the whole world!