St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan,
Sunday 20 October 2019.
San Antonio is a lovely city. Famous for the Alamo and the River Walk.
I have had the pleasure of a few visits to the city, but the destination I sought was always Yucca Street. The Holy Spirit Convent is there, and for many years I called to visit my aunt, Sr Edith. More recent visits have given me the opportunity to offer Mass for her soul.
Sister Edith was one of thirty thousand Irish missionaries who left this country over a fifty-year period from 1920 to 1970 to share their faith with others. On my last visit an aged Irish sister led me to the convent cemetery. There I prayed at Sister Edith’s grave, and later while walking around I noted the names on the tombstones – O’Neill, Murphy, Quinn, Power.
This cemetery is a monument to the generosity, courage and faith of Irish women who left behind family, friends and parish to share the Gospel message. Very often these women were pioneers in education, healthcare and expressions of charity and support. They took seriously the message of Jesus: ‘as the Father has sent me so am I sending you.’ (John 20:21). The faith of these missionaries, born in Baptism, led them to the four corners of the earth.
The San Antonio cemetery is but one of many throughout the world that witness to the Irish missionary spirit. Today, we pray for missionaries, especially those whose ministry is difficult or dangerous, and we ask the Lord of the harvest to send further labourers to the harvest.
Last year I called to a home in the evening time and invited to join the family as they prayed the rosary in their native tongue. There I saw parents as missionaries, handing on the faith to the next generations. That is mission! Mission is faith in action.
Mission is about loving Christ, being guided by his teaching and example, and living that out in the workplace and in the community.
Today’s missionaries are parents who have love and prayer in the home as cornerstones of their lives.
Today’s missionaries are young people who cherish God’s creation, care for it and strive for its protection.
Today’s missionaries see human life as a precious gift from God and strive to have it protected from the moment of conception.
World Mission Sunday challenges us to reflect on how we are living out our baptismal calling to witness to Christ in all situations and not to give up. It invites us to deepen our love of Christ, to welcome the power of the Holy Spirit afresh into our lives, and to be living examples – wherever we are and whoever we are – of the Father’s care for all of creation. Together, we are mission!