Some give pennies to share the message of Christ
In some nations, Catholic priests are in need of the most basic of supplies to continue their work of spreading God’s word. Money just for food and housing is in short supply, and some must have boats to reach the remote areas around them.
The needs of these priests and those who work with them are funded largely by donations given around the globe on World Mission Sunday, which falls on Oct. 16.
Msgr. Edward Lofton, pastor of St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville, is also director of the Society for Propagation of the Faith for the diocese. He urges everyone to give as much as they can because their seed money helps the faith grow in the world’s poorest places.
“The collection on World Mission Sunday allows us to do what the Gospel says: to bring the word of Christ to the four corners of the world,” Msgr. Lofton said.
Pope Francis earlier this year wrote a letter about the importance of World Mission Sunday and connected it with the message of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. He stressed that sharing God’s word with those who don’t know it is one of the greatest ways to show mercy to others.
“All of us are invited to ‘go out’ as missionary disciples, each generously offering their talents, creativity, wisdom and experience in order to bring the message of God’s tenderness and compassion to the entire human family,” he wrote. “By virtue of the missionary mandate, the Church cares for those who do not know the Gospel, because she wants everyone to be saved and to experience the Lord’s love.”
Funds collected in the diocese have helped people all over the world.
Over the years, diocesan missionaries have served in India, Latin America, the Caribbean, Afghanistan, Eastern Europe and Africa. One recent project centers on building a hospital in a small rural area near Benin City in southern Nigeria.
For the past decade, Msgr. Lofton and missionaries have also worked in the northern islands of Fiji to build nurseries, churches and worship centers for remote villages, plus housing for teachers at rural island schools. That work has become even more important this year after Fiji was devastated by Cyclone Winston in February.
Msgr. Lofton said his work with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith has taught him how important faith is in the lives of people.
He recalled a story he heard from a missionary priest in Latin America who served people who made their living collecting waste material from local garbage dumps. Because of his flock’s poverty, the priest was not going to take up a collection on World Mission Sunday one year, but a woman came up to him and said “Do not take away my right to give.”
“In places like India, people will give pennies, they will give what little they have to offer in order to receive and share the message of Christ,” he said. “This collection is so important because if it wasn’t for World Mission Sunday, the Catholic Church would not exist in many places.”
To learn more about how World Mission Sunday benefits the Church around the world, visit http://www.propfaithcharlestonsc.com/.
Photo provided: People from St. Simon Church community in Nigeria celebrate a new well that was funded by a family from Holy Cross Church in Pickens, S.C.