A Grand Day for the Missions!
In the movie "Field of Dreams," the main character builds a baseball diamond amidst his corn fields, drawing the scorn and ire of his family and neighbors. He continually hears a voice telling him, "If you build it, they will come." Sure enough, famous players who have gone to that great "Fenway" in the sky appear and play once again.
The last person revealed as a player is the farmer's father, who had been a devoted baseball fan; father and son had a rocky relationship. Dad looks around asking, "Is this heaven?" The son replies, No, it's Iowa!"
On Sunday, October 22, 2023, I had that same wondrous feeling as I looked around in Saint Katherine Drexel Parish in Roxbury, packed to overflowing. "Is this heaven?" No, it was the Archdiocese of Boston's World Mission Sunday celebration!
Our celebrant was Bishop Peter Chukwu from the Diocese of Abakaliki, Nigeria. Music from the Archdiocesan Black Catholic Choir and the Nigerian Choir lifted our worship to great heights. The presence of the Knights of Columbus as well as the Knights of Peter Claver was an honor.
First came our traditional Procession of Nations: flags from countries around the world were carried in and displayed on the stairs leading to the sanctuary. This is a great show of our Church's universality. The flag bearers were joined by Nigerian dancers in traditional dress. Next came six altar servers, seventeen concelebrants, including Father Oscar Pratt, pastor of Saint Katherine Drexel; then, of course, Bishop Peter. Mr. Rashaun Martin was the MC for our celebration.
Readings were in Yoruba and Spanish. Just before the proclamation of the Gospel by Father Jospeh Ogazie, of Abakaliki, Nigeria, the Cameroonian Women's Community danced and sang the Book of the Gospel up the aisle, presenting the Word of God to Father Joseph.
Our Intercessory Prayers were read in Yoruba, Ibo, Swahili, Luganda, Haitian Creole, and English. Following the prayers, Bishop Peter blessed World Mission Rosaries, which were a gift to each attendee from The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, who planned the celebration.
In his homily, Bishop Peter reminded those present that there are still many needs in not only his diocese, but throughout the mission world. He appealed for support for education to keep young people on the "right track" in life; health care facilities, especially maternity wards, to lower maternal death rates; and clean water for improved health of all.
Where will he get this support? For the most part, it will come the collection taken up that day in every Catholic Church in the world. Did you miss your chance to give? Go to www.propfaithboston.org.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.