On 1 October, the first day of their Autumn General Meeting, the Bishops of Ireland concelebrated Mass in Saint Mary’s Oratory in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
Launching Extraordinary Mission Month during the Mass Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “I have come to realise more and more that all Christian vocations are missionary by nature – and I find that thought to be challenging, exciting and immensely fulfilling.”
Archbishop Eamon told the congregation of lay staff, seminarians, priests and bishops that at one time he had considered becoming a missionary priest as two of his cousins had done before him, but instead opted for diocesan priesthood at home.
Baptised and Sent
The theme chosen by Pope Francis for this Extraordinary Month of Mission is ‘Baptised and Sent’. Archbishop Eamon emphasised the four key elements of mission month the Holy Father invites us to reflect on:
– nourishing a personal encounter with Jesus Christ living in His Church.
– remembering the witness of so many missionary saints and martyrs.
– reaching out in charity and concrete action to support the Church’s missionary activity and communities who are too poor to support themselves
– developing and disseminating resources – Biblical, catechetical, spiritual and theological – to assist formation for mission.
Remembering the visit of Pope Saint John Paul II to Ireland in 1979, Archbishop Eamon quoted the Saint, who said that “Every generation, with its own mentality and characteristics, is like a new continent to be won for Christ.”
The Archbishop continued, “This challenge is one that the Church in Ireland can welcome – to rekindle the joy of the Gospel in our country; to find again the youth and courage that inspired Saint Columbanus and the great Irish missionaries of ancient times; to rediscover the adventure and excitement of the founders of the Irish missionary movements in more recent centuries.
“So many of our people, especially our young people are longing for meaning, purpose, hope and values that will last; they are not finding these in the shallow and empty promises of life without Christ. Ireland, and much of Europe, has again become that new continent to be won for Christ.”
In tribute to the patron of the missions, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Archbishop Eamon said “For though Saint Therese never travelled abroad as a missionary, her heart was missionary – her heart burned to save souls for Christ her beloved – even after her death.”
Laudato Tree Project
At the end of the Mass, Archbishop Eamon launched the ‘Laudato Tree Project’. He said, “At the beginning of this Extraordinary Month of Mission, I commend to the dioceses, congregations and especially to the young people of Ireland, the ‘Laudato Tree’ project being sponsored by the Society of African Missions. Taking its inspiration from Pope Saint John Paul II’s appeal for the Sahel in 1980, and Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on care for our common home Laudato Si, the project encourages a concrete action – the planting of trees and increasing biodiversity both in Ireland and also along Africa’s Great Green Wall, together with awareness raising and education about Faith and the environment.”
Deforestation continues to have a devastating effect on Africa, and in this regard Archbishop Eamon said, “As part of SMA’s commitment to the people of Africa, and to engaging in a positive and creative way to caring for the earth, our common home, they are encouraging us to assist with the planting of the ‘great green wall’ of trees across Africa.”