World Mission Sunday is a call to be missionaries in our own communities

If you’re baptized then you’re a missionary!

The month of October is not only dedicated to the rosary, but it is also dedicated to mission work and missionaries because we celebrate World Mission Sunday on the next to last Sunday in October each year.

Just before he ascended back to heaven, Jesus gave us his great commission, which we find at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” We are called by Jesus to continue his mission of sharing the Gospel or “Good News” with all people.

Many times, we think that missionaries are just those people who go to far off countries to share the Gospel where Christianity is not as well known. There are those people who God calls to preach and teach about Christianity in places like South America, Africa and Asia. We can support their work through our prayers as well as contributing donations to help them in their work. A special collection is taken up at all Masses on World Mission Sunday that goes toward supporting work in the mission territories around the world.

There are also people who are called to be missionaries within the United States. Groups like the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Franciscan Partners Program, and FOCUS offer opportunities to serve in different communities within the United States. The National Evangelization Team (NET) sends members around the country to offer retreats to young people in parishes and schools while staying with different host families each night. Each group shares the Gospel with the people they encounter.

However, most people are called to be missionaries within their own communities. In our increasingly secular culture, we are called to share the love of Jesus with those we meet in our schools, workplace and community. St. Francis is often quoted to have said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” As Christians, we believe that all people are created in God’s image and should be treated with dignity. By our interactions with others can people tell we are Christian? Does the knowledge that we are loved and chosen by God fill us with a joy that radiates from us? Do others see our lives and think, “I want to be like them?” This is just one of the basic “baby steps” we can take to be missionaries in our own communities.

God calls and equips each of us to be a part of his evangelizing mission to the world. This month, let’s all take a moment to think about how we can answer God’s call to support the missions and be a missionary!

Christina Mendez-Hall earned a BA in Theology and a Doctorate in Ethical Leadership from the University of St. Thomas- Houston and a masters in Catholic School Leadership from the University of Dallas. She has also served as a NET missionary and led multiple mission trips for educators to the US/Mexico border. Dr. Mendez-Hall is the Assistant Superintendent for Catholic Identity and Accreditation for the Catholic Schools of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.