By Georgiana Francisco | Correspondent
As the choir led in the singing of “Gather Us In” in Corpus Christi Church, Willingboro, students from the town’s Pope John Paul II Regional School carried brilliantly colored world flags in procession at the start of the Oct. 22 diocesan Mass celebrating World Mission Sunday.
The students were dressed just as colorfully in clothing representing cultures from around the world, including Japan, China, African nations and Norway, while the parish cantor, wearing a feather in her hair, was resplendent in a Native American ensemble of buckskin with fringe.
Photo Gallery: World Mission Sunday in Willingboro
World Mission Sunday, created by Pope Pius Xii in 1926, is the day the Church throughout the world publicly renews its commitment to the missionary movement.
In his homily, Father Daison J. Areepparampil, parochial vicar in St. Mary Parish, Bordentown, told parishioners that, “as we celebrate World Mission Sunday, it is important for us to remember that every one of us is called individually by God to formulate and create a mission in life.”
Quoting Pope John Paul II, he said it is essential for the faithful to understand that as Jesus was a missionary, so, too, must all proclaim his message throughout the world.
“We have to do our part to fulfill a mission to do something for Christ and the Church as Christ’s soldiers by taking our message to the four corners of the world,” Father Areepparampil said.
Father Peter James Alindogan, diocesan Office of Missions director, who was principal celebrant of the Mass, praised the parish for its work with missions and asked all in attendance to pray for missionaries all over the world.
“Remember, that whatever we do, we are missionaries, even in our own homes when we share our faith with our families, our children and our grandchildren, and when we share what we have in our hearts, that’s being a missionary, that’s following what Jesus said, before he ascended to the father, the last words in Matthew, ‘Go forward and spread the Good News.’ And whenever we do that, we are missionaries,” he said.
Parishioner Marty Derois said she believes in helping the poor and gives as much as possible to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, adding she was “very grateful that we are celebrating World Mission Sunday here at my church and doing as much as we can not only for world missions, but also for the people here in Willingboro.”
In a message issued for World Mission Sunday, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., had asked the faithful of the Diocese for “full support, through prayer and sacrifice” during the collections of World Mission Sunday.
“The collection…is unique,” he wrote. “It is truly a global effort for the entire Church. It is a central moment each year to provide for the building up of over 1,000 local churches in Asia and Africa, the Pacific Islands, and parts of Latin America and Europe, an area that covers more than half the territory of the globe.”