World Mission Sunday Nov. 22

World Mission Sunday, the annual worldwide Eucharistic celebration for the Missions and missionaries of the world, will be celebrated on Oct. 22, 2023.

“This annual celebration joins Catholics worldwide into one community of Faith, inviting us to recommit ourselves to the Church’s missionary call through prayer, participation in the Sunday Eucharist, and sacrifice,” Bishop Frank J. Dewane wrote in a letter to the faithful.

Throughout the year, the Pontifical Mission Societies support the work of mission priests, religious Sisters and Brothers, and lay pastoral leaders. “These missionaries not only provide food, housing, education, and medical care to the most impoverished communities throughout the world, they offer hope and compassion,” Bishop Dewane wrote.

In the Diocese of Venice, the World Mission Sunday Collection will take place on the weekend of Oct. 21 and 22. World Mission Sunday offers each one of us an opportunity to support the life-giving presence of the Church among the poor and marginalized.

Instituted in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, the day is celebrated in all the local Churches as the feast of Catholicity and universal solidarity so Christians the world over will recognize their common responsibility with regard to the evangelization of the world.

The theme for 2023 is “Hearts on fire, feet on the move,” based on the story of the disciples who encounter Jesus on their way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35).

Reflecting on the theme, Pope Francis, in his Message for World Mission Sunday 2023, invites us to set out “to make other hearts burn with the word of God, to open the eyes of others to Jesus in the Eucharist.”

The Pontifical Mission Societies notes that this collection is a unique, global effort for the entire Church to provide for the building up of more than one thousand local churches in Asia and Africa, the Pacific Islands, and parts of Latin America and Europe. Through the work of these churches, and their witness to Christ, the poor receive practical help and experience God’s love and mercy, His hope and peace.

Collection to support Faithful, chaplains in military

At Sunday Masses the weekend of May 14-15, 2022, Faithful in the Diocese of Venice will have an opportunity to contribute to a special collection for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS).

Father Robert R. Cannon, Ch, Col, USAF (Ret.), knows first-hand the value of such a gift from anyone who can contribute. Not only is Father Cannon a priest of the Diocese of Venice, he is also the AMS’s Chancellor in Washington, DC. He is a vital contact for fellow Catholic priests serving worldwide as U.S. Military Chaplains, a position Father held for almost 30 years.

“It’s hard to describe how a Catholic priest affects so many people,” Father Cannon says, “just by being a priest on a base and people learn who you are, you immediately have a flock. You’re their shepherd. They don’t even have to know you. As soon as they see that Roman collar you have thousands of people that are going to be trusting you and looking for support from you. Your very presence is a great consolation and comfort to Catholic military members and families.”

But Catholic priests are increasingly in short supply on active duty these days because of attrition: aging chaplains are retiring faster than they can be replaced. Twenty-five percent of the U.S. Military’s nearly 1.2 million men and women on active duty are Catholic, but the Military’s 192 active-duty Catholic priests make up just seven percent of the Chaplain Corps. In response to the shortage the AMS, along with partner Dioceses and religious communities, has developed a thriving “Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program,” in which dozens of men are now in formation to become priest-chaplains and help relieve the shortage. This includes Diocese of Venice Seminarian Jacob C. Gwynn, who was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy on Jan. 22, 2021, at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. He is a Chaplain Candidate Program Officer, pursuing serving God and country as a Chaplain.

The AMS, which receives no government funding, has no network of local parishes to take up collections, and depends entirely on private giving for survival, now faces a $3.5 million seminary bill over the next five years. That’s in addition to the archdiocese’s annual operating budget of more than $7 million to provide religious education and faith formation for military families, an active archive of sacramental records, a tribunal to handle anomalous marriages, annulments, and other issues of canon law, travel for AMS Bishops, and other forms of pastoral care for Catholics in uniform and veterans receiving care in the nation’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers.

Seeing the AMS’s growing need for support back in 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the special collection in Parishes nationwide every three years. The first collection was taken up in 2013 with others to follow in 2016, 2019, and now, 2022.

Father Cannon was ordained in 1978 for the Diocese of St. Petersburg but became a priest of the Diocese of Venice when St. John Paul II erected the new Diocese in 1984. Father became a Chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1986 and was asked by the USAF Chief of Chaplains to go on extended active duty in 2003. Before his active duty, Father Cannon held several positions, including Dean of Students and Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Diocesan Judicial Vicar, and Rector of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.

He vividly recalls leaving his position as rector to answer the call to serve those who serve in faraway places. “I admit that I cried driving I-75 with a packed car up to Washington, D.C. I had come to love the people, the Cathedral. I certainly was able to relate to military personnel when they had to leave their families.”

As Father Cannon knows all too well, time and resources are precious commodities for a Catholic priest on active duty in the U.S. Military. Priests like Father Cannon can provide the time, but only the Faithful can provide the resources through the 2022 national collection on May 14-15. If you wish to contribute directly to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, visit milarch.org/nationalcollection.

Story courtesy of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

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