Missionary Zeal at Home, Around the World


A recent Star Tribune article focused on Father Louis Hennepin’s role in chronicling the natural wonders of Minnesota in the late 17th century. What delighted me the most was that the article mentioned his motivation: a deep concern for souls. As adventurous by temperament as the hardiest of explorers, it was not furs or fame that drew him to the mighty Mississippi, but the same apostolic zeal that had propelled our patron, Saint Paul, and missionaries across the ages like Patrick, Boniface, Cyril and Methodius, Francis Xavier. Whatever our roots, we all owe our faith to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the work of mission.

When I was appointed Bishop of Gaylord, Michigan, in 2009, I received several copies of the Diary of Venerable Frederic Baraga, a missionary priest from Slovenia who had served as pastor of one of our parishes before being named the first bishop. by Marquette. Known as the Snowshoe Priest, he displayed heroic virtue as he traveled across Michigan, Wisconsin, and even the North Shore to bring Christ and the sacraments of the Church to Native Americans and trappers. of the Upper Midwest. I had the good fortune to travel with our seminarians last summer to Madeline Island, the site of one of Father Baraga’s first parishes, with the hope that the experience would kindle our own missionary impulses.

Bishop Bernard Hebda

We were fortunate to have an excellent guide at the local museum, who not only showed us Father Baraga’s vestments and chalice, but also shared with us many tales of his heroic zeal, including how Father Baraga risked his life to cross Lake Superior in a canoe. in treacherous conditions to care for a dying man at a Native American settlement near Grand Portage who needed the sacraments. I look forward to visiting the Baraga Cross at Cross River on the North Shore which now stands as a wonderful reminder of how the Lord blesses those who dedicate their lives to spreading the gospel.

The Second Vatican Council taught that the whole Church should be missionary and described the work of evangelization as a “fundamental duty” of the people of God (Ad Gentes 35). In this regard, the Council Fathers confirmed the insight of Pauline Jaricot, a young French laywoman who 200 years ago founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, a vehicle for ordinary people to support the missionary efforts of the Church by their prayers and contributions. On its 100th anniversary, the society was granted papal status, and earlier this year Pope Francis approved the beatification of this incredible advocate, who mobilized the Church worldwide on behalf of missions.

During Blessed Pauline’s lifetime, the fledgling Church in the United States was one of society’s greatest beneficiaries. Now, as the society celebrates its 200th anniversary, we have the opportunity to show both our gratitude for its role in our history and our commitment to the missionary efforts of the Church. Every year, on World Mission Day, Catholics are called to support the Society for the Propagation of the Faith as well as the other Pontifical Missionary Societies.

In a recent letter, our nuncio, Bishop Christophe Pierre, reminded us that this annual collection gives us the opportunity to allow the Holy Father to ensure “that all the missions are reminded and receive much needed help”.

The great facade of our cathedral represents Jesus charging the apostles to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. This work continues to this day. We were inspired during our synod to embrace this work within our archdiocese, but we know it needs to be taken forward globally as well. Please join me in praying for all who are involved in the missionary efforts of the Church (and especially for the priests, consecrated women and men, and laity of this archdiocese involved in mission work) and let us our part to support their efforts. While we as an Archdiocese have special ties with the Diocese of Kitui in Kenya, and with the Parish of Jesus Resucitado in Venezuela, and while many of you and our parishes are extraordinarily generous in supporting parishes , schools and particular institutions throughout the mission world, we have the opportunity this year, on October 23, to do even more in helping the Pontifical Mission Societies. In this year as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, may the Lord shower special blessings on all who support the missionary efforts of the Church.

Celo misionero en casa, en todo el mundo

Key words: Boniface, Cyril and Methodius, Father Louis Hennepin, François Xavier, Patrick, Pontifical Mission Societies, Propagation of the Faith

Category: Only Jesus


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