Homily for Mission Sunday

Mission Sunday (Extraordinary Year of Mission)  

Nenagh and Ennis

Sunday 20th of October 2019


Extraordinary Month of Mission

Today we celebrate Mission Sunday.  October is traditionally the month of special prayer for the Missions and this year the whole month was designated by Pope Francis to be an extraordinary month of Mission.


Mission Imperative

It was the last will and testament of Jesus to his disciples before he ascended into heaven that they would go out and preach the Gospel to all nations, to spread the good news and to Baptise all in the name of the Father ….


As Christians, as followers of Jesus we try and take that on board and be as faithful as we can to the last words of Jesus.  It’s one of the things that Pope Francis repeats again and again that in our preoccupation with our survival as Church we sometimes forget that we are fundamentally missionary or evangelical at heart.   We exist in order to share and spread the good news in every heart, in every home, in every parish and further afield.


Mission Statements

For the last few years Mission statements have become most fashionable!  Almost every organisation, whether a club or society or church or school or hospital have their own Mission statements.  It helps greatly to focus on what they are about.  I’m sure if you look at the local sporting clubs, – while obviously to win the county championship and perhaps the All-Ireland trophy is first and foremost in their mind – it would probably include the wish for the enjoyment, recreation, flourishing and well-being of all members of the club.  All of course most noble and praiseworthy aspirations.  It’s always good to put our sense of mission before us as a reminder of what we’re about.  And so too, with our sense of mission in the Church.


Religious Tradition of Mission in Ireland

In Religious terms Ireland has had a proud, outstanding and glorious past in terms of Missionary endeavour in the traditional meaning of the world.  In the era of the golden age of the Island of Saints and Scholars, great missionaries like Colmcille, Columbanus, Brendan and many more spread the faith and contributed so much to education and culture in Europe and beyond.  This great tradition was continued and expanded greatly by the many religious orders and congregations in the past – Columbans, SMAs, Holy Ghosts, Medical Missionaries of Mary, Christian Retreat, Presentations, Mercies, Killaloe’s Sr. Ethyl Normyle of Missinavale and many more.  Their mission was to both spread the Gospel and to help educate and improve the human situations anywhere they went.


Present day Missionaries

Thankfully this tradition has continued to the present day and is been taken up by many lay people – we think of people like Adi Roche, Alan Kearns, the Galway hurler, Ronan Scully of Gorta self-help,  and many more.


An interesting point that I saw in recent statistics is that there are still over 1,000 missionaries working abroad from our small and wonderful country!  Killaloe lay people and clergy have a great history and rich tradition in this field.  Several of our serving priests in the diocese spent several years working in mission areas.


In Ennis last year a fascinating book was published called

Go make disciples of all nations 1900-2018 a history of the dozens and dozens of missionaries who departed from Ennis for the past century to spread the faith in the mission fields of the world.


A similar volume was also recently published on a similar great tradition in Dunkerrin Parish.


Apostolic Work Society – Killaloe Diocese

In the diocese of Killaloe there has been a fantastic tradition of a great link with the missions through a thriving Apostolic Work Society, with so many branches – through dedication and expertise helping with mission through using home grown  talents to provide much needed vestments and sacred vessels for mission fields all over the world.


How can I help Mission?

You might well say what this has to do with me.  How can I be a missionary, a citizen of Nenagh or Ennis, working in an office in Ennis, or farming land — or housekeeping and rearing a family in a housing estate in the town or a student in college or whatever.  There are many ways really.  We can continue to support through financial donation, volunteering to help and offering prayers for organisations like World Mission Ireland.  The Pontifical Missions Society to whom today’s collection goes do Trojan work in this field.  Besides we can also continue to support wonderful groups like Trócaire, GOAL, Concern, Cafod, Chernoble Trust and many other such with a missionary zeal about them.  Most of all we can also keep the great missionary endeavour to the fore in our prayer, thoughts, conversations and plans.


As the video on the really useful Catholic Media Platform called ICatholicexplains in catchy sound-bytes:

  • Volunteer for Projects
  • Pray harder
  • Dig a little deeper


Missionaries at home

Looking at the whole thing from a much more local angle it has only emerged in recent times we even can be missionaries on our own doorstep.  I remember Cardinal Ó Fiach, God rest him saying to us as students over 30 years ago that it would only be a few years when missionaries would be coming from third world countries to evangelise us.  How right he was proved to be in such a short time with our recent dearth in religious vocations!  John Waters had an excellent article recently, in which he claims that in Irish society we have lost even the background, tone and culture to tune into the language of what religion has to offer.  Perhaps with a sense mission we can retrieve some of the many positives of what our religion has to offer to our homes, our communities and the wider world.


George Bernard Shaw

In the words of George Bernard Shaw “Life is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations”.  And so too with our sense of Mission.  The good news of our faith, resurrection, hope, faith, eternal life, redemption, happiness in heaven, the source of our hope.  Go out to the whole world says Jesus and baptise them in the name….  We do this… homes, communities… world…


Theme, Logo and Conclusion


The Theme for this extraordinary month of Mission chosen by Pope Francis is – Together We are Mission.  We are all called to be missionaries.


The Logo for the month has the caption – Baptised and Sent.


On this mission Sunday month we open our minds afresh to our sense of Mission and realise that by virtue of our baptism we are truly sent to proclaim the good news by what we say and the lives we lead.