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World Mission Sunday celebrated at cathedral Mass

By Maureen C. Heil Special to The Pilot
Posted: 10/23/2009

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Participants at the World Mission Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral process into the church with national flags and group banners. Pilot photo/ Lisa Poole

World Mission Sunday, organized by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.

For Maryknoll Bishop William McNaughton, it is a day that will always bring back memories of gratitude for special times and people in his life; the first is his loved ones who supported him when he decided to follow God’s call to serve in the missions. His thankfulness also brings to mind thoughts of the late Cardinal Richard Cushing who, as Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, consecrated McNaughton as Bishop of Inchon, Korea in 1961.

As the homilist for our 2009 World Mission Sunday celebration, held on Oct. 18 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Bishop McNaughton also called to mind his profound gratitude to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith; he said that his work of spreading the Gospel on the Korean peninsula would have been impossible without the help of the Holy Father’s Mission Society.

Celebrant for the Mass was the Most Rev. Luis Morao, Bishop of the Diocese of Chalatanengo, El Salvador. Bishop Morao’s diocese has benefited directly from the Propagation of the Faith’s work in the Archdiocese of Boston. As part of our Missionary Cooperative program, parishes here have helped to raise funds for schools, churches, and health clinics in his diocese.

Father Kevin O’Leary, Rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, welcomed all present to his parish and read a message from Cardinal Seán O’Malley. The cardinal reminded everyone of our commitment as Catholics to spread the Gospel, as Jesus asked, “to the ends of the earth.”

The Mass was offered for Father Jim Hennessey, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston who was sent on mission to the Solomon Islands during World War II. He was captured and taken prisoner; he died when the P.O.W. ship on which he was being transported was sunk. Recently, Father Hennessey’s most prized possessions -- his chalice, paten, ciborium, and burse were found in the Solomon Islands; as a thank you for all the Propagation of the Faith has done there they were sent to the Mission Office here in Boston. Those items, along with a portrait of Father Hennessey, were on display during the liturgy.

Sponsored in every Catholic parish and diocese around the world by the Propagation of the Faith, Boston’s World Mission Sunday Eucharistic Celebration could not be dampened by even Mother Nature herself! Over 600 people gathered to celebrate the missionary work of the Church despite a torrential nor’easter.

As flags representing the various ethnic communities in the archdiocese processed down the aisle, the Children’s Choir from St. Monica’s Parish in Methuen shared their vocal talents. Led by Bernie Choinier, the Children’s Choir was mission minded before they stepped into the cathedral -- as members of the Holy Childhood Association, the children’s Mission Society, their prayers and sacrifices were already being offered for children in the missions.

Also sharing their musical gifts were the Ugandan Martyr’s Choir of St. Mary’s in Waltham, the Cape Verdean Choir from St. Edith Stein in Brockton and the Haitian Choir from St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge. Each group added a “mission” flavor to the liturgy by singing in their native language; each country that the choirs represented receives help from all of the Pontifical Mission Societies, parent organization of the Propagation of the Faith.

Lectors representing the Dominican Republic and Korea proclaimed the readings, while the Intercessory Prayers were read in the following languages: American Sign Language, Chinese, Haitian, Lugandan, Cape Verdean, Ibo-Nigerian and English.

Gifts at the Offertory were brought forward by members of the Chinese, Korean, Ghanaian and Holy Cross Parish communities.

After the Communion meditation, Maureen Heil, Mission Education Director for the archdiocese and a member of the Pontifical Mission Societies National Board of Directors, explained the significance of the World Mission Rosary, handed to everyone as they entered the cathedral. Begun in 1951 by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the rosary is multi-colored; each color represents a different part of the mission world that needs our prayers and support. While keeping those mission areas in mind as the regular Rosary mysteries are prayed, Sheen said that a person could “embrace the whole world in prayer.” As the congregation lifted their rosaries, Bishop Morao blessed them and reminded us all to ask for Mary’s intercession for the spread of the Gospel.

Before the final blessing, Father Thomas Kopp, Archdiocesan Director for the Pontifical Mission Societies, thanked all who had shared their gifts to make the celebration possible. He reminded everyone that we are called to be missionaries because we are baptized. He then invited all to attend a luncheon reception at Cathedral High School and to meet some of Boston’s missionaries.

Sacrifices made on World Mission Sunday are used to support the work of the Church in over 1150 mission dioceses around the world. Through this support, schools, churches, hospitals, seminaries and orphanages are built and staffed; most importantly, the people served are directly exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through word and action.