Q: What is a seven-letter word for “Church”?
A: “Mission,” a word that means “sending.”
That is the “vocation” of the Trinity and the basis of our relationship with God. The Father sends the Son into the world in the Incarnation. The Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. The Spirit empowers and impels those disciples to proclaim the Gospel. It is the sending that makes the Church. We gather (the root of the word Church) in order to be sent. It is the whole reason the Church exists.
This month, the world population reached seven billion. As the number of people in the world is growing, so is Christianity. In some places, the growth is explosive, so much so that some predict that Christians may in the not-too-distant future be a majority of the world’s people. But, not Catholic Christians. Catholic Church growth is not keeping pace with the growing world. Already, there are more Muslims in the world than Catholics, and the growing Churches in Asia, Africa and Latin America are evangelical communities. Islam and evangelical Christianity are growing at more than twice the rate of Catholicism.
Of course, for Catholics, mission is not a numbers game. But, we still must ask why others are doing so much more about sharing their faith. If we do not do mission, no longer see ourselves as sent, we are no longer being Church. Might that be the reason for the shrinking percentage of the world that follows Christ as Catholics? Are we being less of a Church than we should be?
Seven billion people deserve to know their Father. If every Catholic does not take part in sharing that Good News along with our other Christian brothers and sisters, the world will be deprived of a unique and essential way to know Christ.
Rev. Michael Fugee, Director
- Catholic Volunteer Network 800-543-5046 http://www.catholicvolunteernetwork.org
- Claretian Volunteers and Lay Missionaries 800-328-6515 http://www.claretians.org
- Columban Fathers Lay Missionary Program 402-291-1920 http://vocation.columban.org
- Family Missions Company 337-893-6111 http://www.familymissionscompany.org
- Franciscan Mission Service 202-832-1762 http://www.franciscanmissionservice.org
- Heart's Home USA 718-522-2922 http://usa.heartshome.org/
- Jesuit Volunteer Corps 313-345-3480 http://www.jesuitvolunteers.org/
- Maryknoll 1-800-818-5276 http://www.maryknoll.com
- Society of African Missions 301-891-2037 http://www.smafathers.org
- The Vincent Pallotti Center 1-877-VOL-LINK http://www.pallotticenter.org
(a directory of 120 full-time faith based volunteer programs based in the United States