TODAY is a special day for the Catholic Church in the Philippines. She celebrates the annual Fil-Mission Sunday, which always falls on the last Sunday of July. This is a local celebration of mission, in contrast to the World Mission Sunday which is celebrated on the third Sunday of October.
Today’s celebration is a celebration of mission. Let us recall that the Second Vatican Council teaches us that the Church, in its nature and essence, is missionary. The reason for existence of the Church is mission, is evangelization, and is the proclamation of the gospel to all nations. The Catholic Church in the Philippines has been faithful to the call to being missionary. How?
First, in order to the respond to the call of mission, the Catholic Church in the country, through its bishops had founded a missionary Society which has become its main and official missionary arm. There are a number or missionary Congregations and Societies which have Filipino membership, but there is only one Society of priests founded by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to become its official representative to the universal work of mission. This missionary Society is called the MISSION SOCIETY OF THE PHILIPPINES or MSP.
Second, it is good to have a review on the circumstances of the foundation of the MSP. The year was 1965. This year was momentous and highly significant in the life of the country’s Catholic Church because the Church at the time had celebrated her 400 years of Christianity. To mark that historic event, the bishops thought of “memorializing” this collective act of thanksgiving to God for the gift received. This MSP has then become the living monument of our continuing and constant gratitude to God for the noble gift received which we call the Christian faith. By establishing the MSP, the bishops had shown to the world that the Catholic Church in the Philippines had come of age. For four hundred years, we had been receiving missionaries from other countries. But in 1965, we changed the tide. From a mission-receiving Church, we have become a mission-sending Church.
Third, this year, the MSP celebrates its 45 years of sharing this gift of faith to the world. Through these years, the MSP has served in some countries in Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America.
The purpose of the Fil-Mission Sunday celebration is to stir awareness among the Filipino faithful of their missionary vocation. In a nutshell, through this celebration, the Filipino Catholics are called to take part in this noble work of mission. What is the nature of your participation?
One, is spiritual offering. We pray for the missionaries, especially the members of the MISSION SOCIETY OF THE PHILIPPINES (MSP), who, on your behalf, go out to the world in order to proclaim the message of God’s Kingdom. Remember the gospel today! It is the Lord’s Prayer. We pray for the coming of God’s kingdom and we pray especially for those missionaries, the MSP missionaries, who labor for the fulfillment of the coming of God’s kingdom into our midst.
Two, is material offering. The reason why the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines designated the last Sunday of July as “Fil-Mission Sunday” was for the Catholic faithful to share and to financially support the missionary endeavors of the Mission Society of the Philippines. The MSP deserves your support because the MSP missionaries represent the Filipino Catholics to the world. The MSP missionaries bring with them the faith of the Filipinos and share it with others.