This photo was taken at St Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia.

Mission Sunday is an opportunity to think of the difficulties facing the young missionary Churches throughout the world. For instance, Catholic missionaries are on the front line in the fight against Ebola.  Already four Catholic missionaries lost their lives because of the Ebola virus. These include two missionaries working with the Irish Brothers of St John of God, based in Liberia.  It has been widely reported that Catholic hospitals in West Africa are stretched beyond their limited capacity to treat the Ebola victims and to support the medical teams caring for the sick.

On Mission Sunday, we also remember with a great degree of pride and appreciation the over 1,500 Irish missionaries who left these shores and continue to preach the name of Jesus Christ on every continent.  Many of these missionaries grew up in our parishes and their vocations were fostered by the faith and generosity of our families and local communities.

Likewise we think today of the foreign-born priests and missionaries sisters who are now assisting in several parishes in the Diocese of Meath, for instance in Kinnegad, Mullingar, Navan and Rathmolyon.  Their vocations too have been fostered in no small part by the prayers and solidarity of the Irish Church.

We are asked to give a financial contribution, however large or small, to show our support for the young Churches abroad, especially those with very limited resources.  Last year, the Mission Sunday appeal in the Diocese of Meath raised € 101,016, which went directly to support the work of missionaries in several different parts of the world.  Bishop Michael Smith appreciates your generosity and asks you, once again, to continue this good work.

The celebration of Mission Sunday this year coincides with the beatification of Blessed Paul VI.  His encyclical “Evangelii Nuntiandi” gave a significant impetus to the Church’s missionary role, which has led to the extraordinary growth of the Catholic Church worldwide over the past 50 years.