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BOSTON -- Two years ago, Pope Francis declared that this October would be Extraordinary Mission Month, a time for "the whole Church to live an extraordinary time of missionary activity." It was in this context that members of various ethnic communities, religious orders, and missionary societies gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for a Mass celebrating World Mission Sunday on Oct. 20.
The Pontifical Mission Societies of the Archdiocese of Boston organize the annual Mass for World Mission Sunday as a way to honor the work of missionaries and celebrate the different cultures present in the archdiocese.
The principal celebrant was Father Gabriel Troy, archdiocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies. The homilist was Father Tom Hagan, OSFS, co-founder of Hands Together Haiti.
Addressing the assembly as "my fellow missionaries," Father Hagan spoke of the desperation he has seen and the difficulties he has experienced in his years of working in Haiti, in an area the United Nations designated as one of the most dangerous slums in the world. But he also acknowledged the challenges of living out faith in modern American culture.
Father Hagan recalled Mother Teresa's advice to "make a resolution that the next person who comes into your space walks away a little better and a little happier."
He told the Mass attendees that their mission is "to recognize the visible Jesus in our life, to reach out to others, and to love them as our Lord God loves us," and to "build a little bit of heaven for others."
Father Hagan urged them to "rededicate" themselves to the Eucharist, which he said Jesus made "a sign of acceptance." He made the point that even with someone considered an enemy, when bread is broken and shared, "suddenly there's a little bit of heaven."
"The Eucharist is not meant to be a spectacle. The Eucharist is meant for us to participate, to become a way of life. When the priest says 'Go, the Mass has ended,' he's not saying 'stop living the Eucharist,' he means 'begin to get out there now and experience Jesus out there.'"
During the liturgy, the readings were proclaimed in Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and English, and intercessory prayers were offered in six different languages. Music was provided by Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted Parish and Our Lady's Academy Children's Choir as well as the Filipino Apostolate Choir and the Cameroonian Catholic Community of St. Anne Parish in Salem.
After the intercessory prayers, Father Troy blessed the World Mission Rosaries that had been distributed as people entered the cathedral. The World Mission Rosary was introduced in the 1950s by Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who was then the national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Each decade of beads on the World Mission Rosary has a different color, symbolizing one of the continents of the world.
At the end of the Mass, Father Troy presented certificates to the national winner and Boston finalists of the Missionary Childhood Association's Christmas artwork contest. The national winner was Joshua Cueco from St. Catherine of Siena School in Norwood. His piece will be displayed at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., during Advent. The Boston finalists' pieces have been displayed in the vestibule of the cathedral since the beginning of October and will remain there until the end of the month.