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Celebrating a global family at World Mission Sunday Mass

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

Gerard Gough

A SPECIAL Mass to celebrate World Mission Sunday was held on Sunday October 23 at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell and Bishop Brian McGee of Argyll and the Isles—who make up the board of Missio Scotland— jointly celebrated the Mass, in front of a packed congregation, which included the Missio Scotland staff.

World Mission Sunday is the day set aside for the Catholic Church—on the penultimate Sunday of October—throughout the world to publicly renew its commitment to the missionary movement, coordinated by the Pontifical Mission Societies—Missio. It was created by Pope Pius XI in 1926 as the day of prayer for missions. During his sermon, Archbishop Cushley warmly welcomed everyone to the Mass—including Missio Scotland’s National Director, Fr Vincent Lockhart—which also marked the bicentennial of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and the centennial of Pope Pius XI’s Motu Proprio dedicating that three societies as Pontifical—the Propagation of the Faith, Holy Childhood and St Peter the Apostle.’

The archbishop also spoke of the positive influence that lay people can have on mission, given that two of the societies were founded by lay Frenchwomen—Blessed Pauline Jaricot and Jeanne Bigard—before going on to laud the Patroness of the Missions, St Thérèse of Lisieux, who dedicated her life to promoting the work of missionaries and supporting the missions. He described her spiritual journal as having caused a ‘sensation,’ with its ‘simple, beautiful and accessible writings’—which eventually led to her being named as a Doctor of the Church by Pope St Paul II in 1997—and talked about just how much she is loved by ordinary people and in parishes all around the world.

He also reflected on missionaries who travelled far and wide during the time of St Thérèse of Lisieux and were accompanied by the ‘moral, spiritual and financial support’ of their families, while praising their ‘can-do attitudes,’ their fearlessness, practicality and optimism which saw the likes of the Missionaries of Africa ‘learned how to start farms, build roads, construct schools, teach all the subjects, write down local languages, draw up dictionaries, build dams, start printing presses.’

“I know because I’ve seen it for myself,” the archbishop said. “They preached the Gospel and they lived the Gospel. Nothing defeated them, not even death.”

Archbishop Cushley spoke of having first-hand experience of seeing the projects funded by Missio, the positive impact that they bring to their communities and his personal delight at seeing plaques that said: ‘funded by Missio Scotland.’

For his part, Missio Scotland’s National Director, Fr Vincent Lockhart thanked Archbishop Cushley and Bishops Toal and McGee for jointly celebrating the special Mass, which he felt helped to showcase the Church as ‘a global family.’

“On behalf of Missio Scotland, I wish to thank Archbishop Cushley, Bishop Toal and Bishop McGee for leading the national celebration of World Mission Sunday and also the marking of our various anniversaries yesterday at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh,” Fr Lockhart said. “Our thanks too to Mgr Burke, the administrator of the cathedral, and to all those who attended the Mass for their prayers and support.

“World Mission Sunday is the day when we join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and every Catholic throughout the world in expressing our solidarity with one another, that the Church is truly a global family. Yesterday’s Mass was a very visible sign of that.”

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