One mission, many gifts

| Deacon Mickey Friesen | October 12, 2011 | 0 Comments
Penny Knoll

Penny Knoll of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings is greeted by children in Kabati, Kenya, in the Diocese of Kitui in this photo from 2008. The African diocese and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis share a partnership that has included delegation visits to Kenya and Minnesota. Photo by Center for Mission

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Liz Mach, a Maryknoll lay missioner from Pine City. Liz was home visiting after marking 35 years of mission service in East Africa as a nurse. She has delivered babies in mud huts in Kenya, risked her life while treating the injured and dying in Sudan during civil war and is working toward improved conditions for women’s health in remote tribal areas in Tanzania.

Despite the risks and challenges, Liz said that her sense of call as a lay missionary has only deepened over the years. She said, “I see how true it is that we all have a missionary call. For me, it has meant leaving home. For you, it may mean staying here and responding to God’s call in your ministry at home, in your community and your service in and through the church.”
She added, “I could never do what you are doing here. And I know that I depend on your prayers for me. I could never do this alone.”

Entrusted to all

There is a place prepared for each of us in serving God’s mission. In his World Mission Sunday message, Pope Benedict writes, “The universal mission involves everyone, everything, and always. The Gospel is not an exclusive possession of those who have received it, but it is a gift to be shared, good news to be passed to others. And this gift-commitment is entrusted not only to some, but to all the baptized.”

On World Mission Sunday, we renew our missionary vocation. We are each shaped by unique circumstances, relationships and life experiences that become the raw material for God to call us. It is important that we take our life history, our strengths and limits, our joys and pain seriously. God speaks to us there.

At the same time, we are not called in isolation. God’s mission is a cooperative venture. We are called in community (or communion). It may be the voice of God revealed in Scripture and worship that makes our hearts burn. It could be the voice of others who speak God’s invitation to ministry and mission. We can discover our vocation while we join with others in works of mercy, service and justice.

God is still calling

Sometimes, God calls us forth through the needs of the world. Frederick Buechner once said, “Vocation is the place where my deep joy meets the world’s deep need.”

I’m reminded of when we began our partnership of solidarity with the Diocese of Kitui, Kenya. Then Bishop Boniface Lele said the reason we cooperate together in God’s mission is so we may liberate the gifts of all God’s people. He said we are all gifted and needy, and both are a blessing. One’s needs liberate the other’s gifts. We present the needs of the church and the world at every Mass in the hope that the gift will be liberated to serve the need.

God is still calling us to mission. On World Mission Sunday, we renew our pledge to cooperate in God’s mission. We cooperate with Catholics around the world to give witness to Christ. We respond to God’s call coming from the needs of the poor in church and world by offering our prayer and financial support.

There is a place for us at the table of God’s mission. Let us embrace our missionary call and share the gifts that only we can offer.

Deacon Mickey Friesen is director of the archdiocese’s Center for Mission.

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Category: World Mission Sunday