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Cir. No. 003/2019

Your Excellency, Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters,

The Holy Father, Pope Francis has declared October 2019 as Extraordinary Mission Month “with the aim of fostering an increased awareness of the missio ad gentes and taking up again with renewed fervour the missionary transformation of the Church’s life and pastoral activity.” We have been preparing for this mission impetus through our special prayers in the church and at home. Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World: This is the theme chosen for the Missionary Month of October 2019. It emphasizes that the call to mission is a call rooted in Baptism and addressed to all the baptized. Mission is a “being sent forth” that brings about conversion both in those who are sent and in those who receive their message: in Christ, our life is a mission! We are mission, because we are God’s love poured out, God’s holiness created in his own image. Mission, then, is our own growth in holiness and that of the whole world, beginning with creation (cf. Eph 1:3-6).

We need to renew our missionary commitment. Let me quote a few sentences from Evangelii Gaudium of Pope Francis for our reflection. This commitment “renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! We would realize that missionary outreach is paradigmatic for all the Church’s activity. …..Mere administration can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be ‘permanently in a state of mission’. We should courageously opt for “a missionary option capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than her self-preservation.”

The Holy Father has specified 4 dimensions to live fully the Extraordinary Mission Month –

1. A personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in his Church: in the Eucharist, in the Word of God, and in personal and communal prayer.
2. Testimony: the witness of missionary saints, martyrs, and confessors of the faith as an expression of the Church throughout the world.
3. Missionary formation: biblical, catechetical, spiritual, and theological.
4. Missionary charity: The witness of selfless love and of lived solidarity with the poor and the suffering to make God’s love for all people visible.

Let us come to some practical suggestions.

We could have at least on one Sunday in a month in all the parishes healing prayer session either before or after the Sunday Mass. The faithful should themselves participate in it and invite their neighbours, friends or acquaintances for these healing sessions. These sessions can last as per the availability of time and need of the group that participates.
Each Parish/Mission Centre shall make a contextualized concrete action plan for evangelization in their area and execute them. The Commission for Evangelization is ready to assist the parishes/mission centres to formulate a contextualized concrete action plan and it can also help for conducting healing sessions.
‘A Day for Mission’: Everyone is encouraged to spend at least one day during the month of October to identify and engage in an activity that directly supports the mission of the Church. This could involve raising funds or materials, spending time with the marginalized, interceding for the mission of the Church, etc. Parish Mathrusangh, Youth group, Vincent DePaul Society and Catechism children can do this mission work collectively also.

October is ‘Rosary Month’. In the parishes/mission stations and institutions one day’s Mass and Rosary shall be offered for the Mission. In the family unit prayer meetings (BCC) motivational tips and Biblical reflections are to be given to awaken mission vocation of every Christian and to foster missionary zeal. Let us also celebrate the Mission Sunday in a meaningful and solemn manner.
On a long term basis each parish/mission centre shall adopt a new village for evangelization. Let the community pray for the people of that village, visit them regularly and, depending on the situation preach the Good News of the Gospel directly or indirectly.

In connection with the Extraordinary Mission Month we shall have a seminar on evangelization based on the theme: ‘Joy of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ’ on 23 October 2019. From 9am to 12 noon Pastor Francis and team (Bhopal) will lead the empowering sessions and from 2pm to 4pm Dr. R.P. Dwivedi and Dr Rashmi Dwivedy, Bhopal (Brahmin converts) will give their testimonies.

M.P. Regional level Mission Gathering is planned for October 27, 2019 at Indore. It is good that as many people as possible participate in this mission convention.

St Mariam Theresa Bhavan

On August 17, 2019 we have blessed and inaugurated St Mariam Theresa Bhavan, at Mohanpur. Four sisters from the Congregation of Holy Family started living there. They are engaged in evangelization and family apostolate. We are grateful to the Provincial Superior and team of the Holy Family Congregation for taking up this missionary initiative and we pray for the four sisters there so that they may become effective instruments to spread the joy of the Gospel in and around Mohanpur area.

Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee of Mar Anthony Chirayath and Diocesan Day

In the diocese we are celebrating the Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee of our beloved bishop emeritus Mar Anthony Chirayath on November 7, 2019. It is an occasion to thank the good Lord for all the graces we have received in and through the person of Mar Anthony. We shall also combine our diocesan day with this celebration. Committees are already formed and let us all together join and make this celebration a memorable one pleasing to God.

Internal Auditing: Rev. Frs Regi Thomas and Abhilash Illimoottil are entrusted with the task of doing the internal auditing of all the Parishes/Mission Stations and institutions of our diocese. This is meant to make our apostolate more effective and transparent. Kindly facilitate their work in helping you.

Ad Limina Apostolorum

Holy Father Pope Francis has called all the bishops of India for Ad Limina visit. This is an occasion to manifest the solidarity of the universal Church with the Pope and to present a report of the status of our diocese. The scheduled audience with the Holy Father is on 3rd October 2019. After this meeting the bishops will be meeting the officials of various Ecclesiastical Congregations. I will make use of this opportunity to visit some of the funding agencies to thank them for their generosity towards our diocese and to submit some projects. So I leave for Rome on 16th of this month.

Canonization of Blessed Mariam Theresa

The canonization of Blessed Mariam Theresa, the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Family is scheduled for October 13, 2019. The following day there is a thanksgiving Mass in Rome. Let us thank God for the gift of this great saint to the Universal Church. Saints share the holiness of God and help us to lead a holy life. May St Mariam Theresa intercede for us.

James Athikalam

Bishop of Sagar