Next weekend, the parishioners of St. Margaret of Scotland will have the opportunity to participate in the Missionary work of the Catholic Church. In the “Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church”, called “Ad Gentes”, promulgated at the Second Vatican Council, the Church teaches: “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all people.” Likewise: “The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Most of us think of the Church’s Missionary activity as solely belonging to those who go to faraway lands to preach the Gospel. Certainly so many lay people, sisters, and priests have done this spendidly over the course of two millennia. St. Patrick, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Francis Xavier, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, St. Damian of Molokai, St. Marianne Cope, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Junipero Serra are but a small fraction of the heroic men women who left their homelands to preach Jesus Christ. Even though most of the members of the Church are not called to leave their homes to preach and teach the Gospel, every member of the Church is called to proclaim Jesus in our daily living and to support the work of the Missions through our prayer and sacrifice. St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, longed to be a missionary, but since her ill health prevented her from serving in a faraway land, she devoted herself to praying for the Missionaries of the Church. Today, along with St. Francis Xavier, she is honored as the co-patron of the Missions, even though she never left the Convent in France that she entered as a teenager.
Next weekend, August 5-6, St. Margaret of Scotland will participate in the Annual Mission Appeal. In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, each parish annually hosts a Missionary who speaks and takes a collection for their work and ministry. This year, we welcome Fr. George Ssemmombwe, who will preach on behalf of Broader Vision School in Entebbe, Uganda. Since 2014, thanks to generous donations primarily from St. Louis families, the Broader Vision School has grown from a small single story school building to a three-building boarding school serving more than 450 Ugandan children – more than half of whom were previously living on the street. Funds raised by the Mission Appeal will help Fr. George continue to serve these children through assistance with tuition, housing for the faculty, a safe cooking space, and food for the children. Many of you may remember Fr. George from when he lived at St. Margaret of Scotland some years ago, and I know that he is happy to return here for this visit. Envelopes for the Mission Appeal will be provided in your pews, or please make a notation on your check or envelope marked “Mission Appeal”.
Please pray for the success of these efforts, for all Missionaries, and for success in the Mission of the Church – the Mission of all of us! – to make the Good News of Christ known to all people.
Fr. George will be staying at the parish this week and will celebrate the Masses next weekend. I will be away this week making my annual retreat at Christ the King Retreat Center in Lake Buffalo, Minnesota, so I ask for your prayers and promise that I will be remembering all of you, our parish family, in my own daily prayer. I will return to the parish on August 9. Let us pray for one another, and for a successful Mission Appeal!