World Mission Sunday – October 22, 2023
My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, May the Lord give you peace.
I enjoy annually writing to you about World Mission Sunday, which occurs this year on Oct. 22, 2023. The day provides an opportunity to pray for the Church worldwide as she evangelizes and supports her missionaries, especially where she is most closely united with the poor. On their behalf, we raise our supplication and offer sacrifices in assistance for their work.
This day in October also reminds us of the great missionary work that comes from our diocese. Through the generations, you, the people of God, have been particularly generous to the work of missions through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. From among you have come missionaries who give their lives to spread the Gospel. Among them is our beloved Servant of God, Father Joseph Walijewski.
This year brings us immense joy and holds a special significance for us as it marks a decade since we conducted the Mass that initiated the process for the canonization of Padre José. In my blog post from March 2023, which marked this 10th anniversary, I recounted my journey to his tomb in Peru. I vividly remembered the stony and sandy path leading up to it. We lit candles and carefully placed them on the tomb’s ledge as a tribute during the visit.
At the same location on the hill overlooking the grounds of Casa Hogar, I clearly recall the majestic statue of our Blessed Mother, Stella Maris, or Star of the Sea. Mary looks eye-catching, youthful and radiant as the wind blows through her clothes. She towers over the city of Lurín and the Pacific Ocean in her own small way. Father Joe Walijewski commissioned that she be placed there, high on the hillside and visible from the seashore, to remind every onlooker of her protective power and motherly care. He placed his prayer and trust before Our Blessed Mother, Star of the Sea, to safeguard the children entrusted to his care from the harmful effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, poverty and hunger. On the hill and against the winds, she still stands, comforts and guards.
This is the power of Faith that the Catholic Church shares with all in the name of Jesus Christ. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his address for World Mission Sunday 2023, gives us the theme, “Hearts on fire, feet on the move.” (cf. Lk 24:13-35) His meditation on the road to Emmaus passage reminds us that God illuminates our hearts in the fire of His Love and sends us forth as missionaries into the world. We, the baptized, are instruments of His Grace.
I thank you for everything you share spiritually and materially to help follow the inspiration of so many like Father
Joe Walijewski, who hear God’s call to send them and carry us along the journey as we assist them. Please join me in offering prayer and financial support as we celebrate, once again, World Mission Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. May God reward you with peace and grace.
Bishop William Patrick Callahan, Bishop of La Crosse
Published in the September/October 2023 issue of Catholic Life Magazine