This Supreme Duty: Missionary Initiative

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The Church’s Function in Every Age is to Direct Others to Christ


Years before the third millennium, St. John Paul II shared a vision that still shapes the Church today:

I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: To proclaim Christ to all peoples.

(Redemptoris Missio, 3)

The Latin phrase ad gentes means “to the nations.” It reminds us that Jesus himself asked us to take up this supreme duty.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19).

Today, Pope Francis powerfully demonstrates how catechists must animate the joy of the Gospel:

“On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you” (Evangelii Gaudium, 164).

Here are a few good features on our role in the mission of the Church:

Bishop Robert McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts offers a stirring yet succinct catechesis in “Living as Missionary Disciples.” 

Marcel LeJeune offers us his advice on how to ask the right questions when evangelizing in “Calling Others to Decide for Christ”.

Maureen Crowley Heil suggests how children can develop mission-mindedness through the Missionary Childhood Association, a ministry of the Pontifical Mission Society. Read “Children on Mission.” Yes! Even children have a missionary vocation, for which Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI preached this encouragement:

“I encourage educators to cultivate in the little ones the missionary spirit, so that impassioned missionaries are born among them, witnesses of the tenderness of God and announcers of his love.” (Angelus, January 6, 2007).


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Pat Gohn, MA is the Editor of Catechist magazine and

This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, April-May 2018 and has been modified to fit this format.

Image credit: shutterstock 335581937

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