Extraordinary Missionary Month - October 2019 (EMM)

We have been preparing our minds and hearts to celebrate the Extraordinary Missionary Month, October 2019, in commemoration of the centenary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud (30 November 1919), with which Pope Benedict XV wished to give new impetus to the missionary call to proclaim the Gospel. The theme is already known to us: “Baptized and Sent. The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”. Proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and his incarnate and redemptive love is our fundamental duty. Pope Francis has indicated four dimensions to prepare for and live out the EMM:

a) A personal encounter with Jesus Christ, alive in His Church: Eucharist, Word of God, personal and community prayer,
b) The witness of the Saints, the Missionary Martyrs, and the Confessors of the Faith, who are unique expressions of the Churches throughout the world,
c) Biblical, catechetical, spiritual, and theological formation regarding the missio ad gentes,
d) Missionary charity as a material support for the immense work of evangelization, especially the missio ad gentes and Christian formation in Churches that are most in need.

Following the call of Pope Francis, we shall keep this special month with prayers and sacrifice, missionary Rosary and intercession, by reflecting on the Word of God to understand the
urgency of the mission mandate given by Our Lord and by witnessing to his love. Jesus is alive in the Church and a personal encounter with him transforms our life. The witness of saints and martyrs and catechetical formation for mission and missionary charity would inspire us to do our primary task.

Jesuchi Suvartha : for October contains the daily reflections in this direction and you are warmly invited to procure copies of the same for the families so that every family reads and meditates on these missionaries. The missionary charity should move us to work with Our Lord Jesus to facilitate this encounter with him. Let us help our families to strengthen their missionary spirit.

Inauguration of EMM: In our diocese, the activities of this month will be inaugurated on 29 September. The Liturgy of the day is made available to you by Mangala Jyothi. At the Cathedral, the Inaugural Mass would be celebrated at 4.30 p.m. The convergence of Confraternity Sunday celebration of the Cathedral will add to the solemnity of the event. I invite you all to participate in the event at the Cathedral. All the parish priests are called upon to inaugurate EMM on this day so that from 1 October 2019 we launch into the activities planned, both at the parish and diocesan level.

Mission Jesus – Vision Nature: Our Teenagers from YCS are organizing the sale of eco-friendly stationaries on Sundays and whatever they collect will be given to the parishes and the parish priests will add it to the total mission collection, indicating separately their contribution. Please encourage the YCS in this drive.

Mission Symposium: In this connection, at the diocesan level, we have arranged a Symposium for priests, religious and lay faithful at the Milagres Church Hall on 9th October from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur diocese and his team will be the resource persons. Please announce about this event and invite people to participate. Though in many deaneries Jeevan Jyothi camps may be held during this week, kindly adjust so as to facilitate greater attendance.

Missionary Children’s Association (MCA): When the Church walks with Christ, she is secure; she can face the storms of life only if she is with him. Without Jesus, we can do nothing. The missionary formation must be an urgent concern of every baptized. When I attended the Karnataka Regional Bishops’ Meeting in August, I came to know that 10 dioceses of our region already have MCA. In fact, we had discussed about it in the Senate and there were different opinions. I earnestly request all the parish priests to begin the MCA and with the help of enlightened lay faithful, the children from 5th to 10th standard must be given special missionary training. The manuals are available with the Mangala Jyothi. If we fail in promoting the training of our youth, what kind of future can we hope for? The First Sunday of the month is certainly the best time when we could bring the children together and conduct workshops, discussions and input sessions. It could be called the Missionary Sunday of the Month.

Flood Relief Work: With the help of ICYM and CODP, we have already sent 7 trucks of provisions to the flood affected areas in Belgaum, Karwar and Calicut dioceses. The youth from Belthangady have donated materials and service to clean the areas of Ujire. I thank all those who have contributed towards this great work of mercy. The service of our youth is really praiseworthy. I thank the Directors and the young men and women for their generosity.

We have initiated the drive to collect funds for relief works. The collection of 8 September is earmarked for the purpose. Please announce it in the parishes and shrines, wherever the festal Mass is celebrated, to contribute generously and the collection be sent to the Procurator of the diocese. Religious men and women also are requested to join this fund raising drive and send the money to the Procurator to be distributed for the relief work. Let us show our solidarity and Christian charity towards the victims.

Liturgical Books in Kannada: The Karnataka Regional Liturgical Commission has printed books in Kannada for the use of the region. The Roman Missal in Kannada, based on the third typical edition is now available. Similarly, the Book of Blessings is a wonderful treasure. We use the Book of Blessing on many occasions when common celebrations are held together with the people of other faith traditions. The Lectionary Part I is ready and Part II has gone to printing. Other than that, the books connected with the Missionary Children’s Association (Keep Me Burning and Kirana) are available. The Konkani version is available too. Each parish should place orders with Mangala Jyothi to have copies of these precious books. They are not very expensive considering the work that has gone into their preparation. When we spend so much money on beautification of the Church, should we not enrich the collection of the liturgical books? There are a few copies left. Please place the order at the earliest. Religious houses too are requested to procure these books.

Norms concerning Sexual Abuse and Financial Accountability: All of us are aware that in recent times there have been allegations of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable against clergy and religious. “The face of the Church is stained with dust and her garment is torn – by the sins of priests” (Pope Benedict XVI). The crimes of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and maladministration and misappropriation of Church finances and property are grave offences that tend to diminish the credibility of our life and mission. People have accused the ecclesiastical authorities of the inadequate response to prevent and stop such crimes by the clergy. The Pope too with humility and sincerity has admitted: “It is a great sadness, a great sadness also that Church leadership was not sufficiently vigilant and sufficiently swift and decisive in taking the necessary measures. On account of this we are living a time of penance, humility, and renewed sincerity … there is the question of prevention through education and the selection of candidates to the priesthood. We must be in such a way attentive so as to exclude, according to human possibilities, future cases.”

Several ongoing formation sessions in the past years have addressed these issues. The Holy See has asked the Bishops to issue policies and norms to prevent abuses and deal with the ones that have been brought to their knowledge. For your immediate reference, we are providing basic Norms concerning Sexual Abuse and Safe Environment and Norms regarding Financial Accountability. These norms are meant to instill in all of us the seriousness with which we need to consider the offenses relating to sexual abuse and financial mismanagement.

Ad Limina Visit: From 10 to 27 September, I will go to Rome for the Ad Limina Apostolorum visit (To the threshold of the apostles). The meeting with the Pope is scheduled to be on the 17th. During this time, I have to keep up some other official appointments. Kindly pray for me and for all the bishops of India who go for this official visit.

Monthi Fest: I wish you all a Happy Monthi Fest. May the Infant Mary whom we love so much and honour with flowers bring healing to our families and into our hearts! May our land be blessed with sufficient grains for the sustenance of our people! Let this feast of Infant Mary be an occasion to make special efforts to protect the girl child in our families.

+ Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore

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