One of the many blessings and opportunities as a missionary is to share the Joy of the Gospel. As a missionary in Chile, South America and Pakistan, I experienced different cultures, religious beliefs, languages, weather and even food. Now I am on mission in the United States where I go on Mission Appeals to churches in the various states. The objective of the Missionary Cooperation Plan through the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops on World Mission is: “To proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.” This states the purpose of the Gospel: asking missionaries to share with the people the mission experience, as well as the faith experience of the people whom we are serving.
A laywoman, Marie Pauline Jaricot founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which provides support for the pastoral and evangelical programs of the church in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Island and remote areas of Latin and Central America. .
In the course of my travels to share the gospel I have met with many people who had connections with the Columban Fathers or sisters, former students and many Filipinos. Like the Italians and the Irish, Filipinos live in all parts of this country. It gives them pride to see a “kababayan”, a countrywoman, sharing the pulpit. Even Chileans or Pakistani who settled in this country will approached me with great appreciation for the missionary works in their respective countries.
I had a touching experience when I was in a very humble parish in a Spanish speaking community. Most of the Spanish masses are scheduled at noon or late in the afternoon because the weather is so muggy and the church has no air conditioning or electric fans. After mass, a woman approached; I felt her rough palms as she thanked me for the message she just heard. She handed me a crisp, folded, $100 dollar bill for the mission. My eyes filled with tears. As I looked at the woman, the scripture of Saint Mark came to life, as if Jesus Christ was reminding me that this poor widow put more than all the other contributors into the treasury. From her humble means she contributed all she had, her whole livelihood for a month. I was aware that this woman needed the money to send to her family back home. I felt so humbled that I gave her a big hug. Her gesture was such an inspiration to me.
Another unforgettable experience I had was receiving a note from Savannah last year. This nine year old girl wrote: “I wanted to give you the last of my birthday money.” The impact of my talk that weekend made Savanna realize the difficulties and sufferings of the people around the world. She could buy a box of chocolates, a bag of popcorn, a pair of earrings or pair of shoes for herself. But she opted to hear the cry of the poor, those who are in need, people she never met but heard of their plight. Young as she was she understood that she is part of this universal church, that she is a missionary, too.
It brought me back to when I was about the age of this girl, during the Vietnam war. We were asked in our school for donations of money, clothes, medicine and nonperishable food. I asked my mother to give me an extra allowance, clothes and food for the children who were in need those days. Little did I imagine that that was the early days of my preparation for this ministry. It’s a Joy of the Gospel, not a job to accomplish that gave me fulfillment as I represent each of the sisters and the people whom they are serving, near or far.
It’s the virtue of generosity that allows us to become fully human. By nature we are made to love, loving our neighbors whose culture and language and way of life may be different from ours. Not only are we to be generous with our financial resources, but we are invited to be generous in everything that we do.
It’s a delight to hear from the people who are grateful they are part of the mission of Christ, even if they don’t go to the mission territories. Through their financial support and prayers, his mission continues to the ends of the earth. I thank the Lord each day for all these hidden missionaries as together we help build up the Kingdom of God.
By Sister Virginia Mozo,SSC
Sister Virgie was missioned in the Philippines, Chile, Pakistan and the United States of America.