Special Mass gathers Catholics of all nationalities, ethnicities to praise God for the myriad expressions of His glory
ROYAL OAK — Hugh Brennan’s role as an usher greeting parishioners at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica is akin to living out the meaning behind World Mission Sunday.
“My role as an usher is an opportunity to reach out to people and make them feel welcome in our church,” said Brennan, who has been an usher since 1985. “Always smile and pay attention, especially to the children.”
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron celebrated Mass for World Mission Sunday on Oct. 20 at Shrine, praying for and encouraging others to spread the word of God in Royal Oak and around the world.
The archbishop expressed his gratitude to the parish community and to the priests of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) for their help in the observance of World Mission Sunday at the parish whose patron, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, is also the patron of missionaries. This year in particular is special, Archbishop Vigneron said, because it marks 100 years since the end of World War I, when Pope Benedict XV in his encyclical Maximum Illud said it was time for a new Church.
“It was time for places like Asia, Africa, India, Japan and China to have their own hierarchy,” Archbishop Vigneron said during the homily. “It was time to take charge of their life in the Church.”
“There are still millions who have not yet heard the Gospel, who need to be renewed,” Archbishop Vigneron added. As Catholics, “it’s our role and the Lord’s command to make disciples of all nations.”
The special Mass also was in observance of the Extraordinary Missionary Month proclaimed by Pope Francis.
The archbishop gave thanks to God for what He’s accomplished in the Church in the last 100 years, asking everyone to pray for those to whom we can reach in the next century: “Proclaim His word, be persistent, whether it’s convenient or inconvenient,” he said.
“We give thanks for 100 years of grace and ask God to pray for grace in the next 100 years,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations. Go and teach everybody to pray. Teach everybody to say the Our Father and to mean it.
“Invite everybody in the world to be adopted by God,” the archbishop continued. “Tell the whole world that their destiny is to have a place in our Father’s house for all eternity. How sad it would be if any person were to lose out on this great destiny, great grace. Be engaged in the mission to all peoples.”
He asked that Catholics continue to pray for foreign missions, “for those who go to the far corners of the world to make disciples with the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus yearns for those who do not know him.”
Many cultures were represented at the Mass, with the readings proclaimed in Spanish and Japanese. Petitions were read in Italian, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Arabic and Igbo (Nigerian).
Fr. John McKenzie, associate pastor at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica, was grateful for the many people who helped to put together the World Mission Sunday Mass celebration, “and for enriching our church here at Shrine and the Church worldwide. This is Shrine. This is what we do.”
Monica Delo Santos and Joanna Barrientos, both of whom are parishioners at Shrine, were at the Mass and represented Mexico. “It was so beautiful to see the different cultures come together to praise God,” Barrientos, 23, said.
Delo Santos nodded and said, “It is so special for me, for my family, to see this.”
Sr. Clare Emeroun, HVM, was in town from Nigeria to visit family and was also at Shrine to celebrate the special event. “This made me feel at home,” she said. “I was so elated to see this celebrated here, and I want to be able to do this in Nigeria. This is so important to see.”
“I am going to go back to Nigeria, and I will tell everyone that the Church is alive. I was so happy. This really touched me,” Sr. Emeroun added.
Pam Jankowski, who, along with Brennan, is an usher at Shrine, is happy in her role at the Church. “I’ve always been involved in volunteering,” said Jankowski, 28. “I always try to show my faith and know how important it is to act out our faith in this world.”