This weekend, millions of Catholics will be donating to the World Mission Sunday fund. It is more than just a second collection, though. The Augustinians have had a missionary spirit for centuries and continue to benefit from donors' generosity. Before you decide whether or not to contribute this weekend to World Mission Sunday, consider the following four things:
1. The First Augustinian Missionaries in the United States Built this Country
Had it not been for the Augustinian missionaries in the 18th century, our Church in the United States might look a little different. When Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore appealed for priests to come to America, the Augustinians in Dublin, Ireland sent the Rev. John Rosseter, O.S.A., who arrived in Philadelphia in 1794. Bishop Carroll was so pleased with Father Rosseter's ministry that he asked the Augustinian Order to send additional friars and to establish a permanent community in the new republic. Father Matthew Carr, O.S.A., was assigned to the new mission field. He arrived in 1796 and made Philadelphia the center of Augustinian missionary activity. As their number grew, the Augustinians expanded their presence and ministry to neighboring Eastern states.
2. Augustinian Missionaries also Built the Church in the Midwest
In 1905 Archbishop James E. Quigley invited the Order to Chicago to start its first foundation west of the Appalachian Mountains. The Rev. James F. Green, O.S.A., went to Chicago later that year. He was asked to establish a Catholic presence in the sparsely settled southwest section of Chicago.
Three months later, construction was started of a church, school and monastery. The buildings served the newly established St. Rita of Cascia Parish and St. Rita College (now called St. Rita of Cascia High School).
As the area population grew, the Augustinians established three additional parishes in nearby neighborhoods in 1909. Other bishops in the Midwest continued to ask the Augustinians to serve in their emerging dioceses, including present-day dioceses such as Tulsa and Detroit.
3. We Continue Our Missionary Spirit Today in Peru
In 1962, Saint John XXIII asked all religious orders in the United States to send 10% of their members to evangelize Latin America. It was only one year later that the Augustinians received a specific request to evangelize an area in Northern Peru. The Province began sending Augustinian missionaries to Peru to build the local Church. The Most Reverend John C. McNabb, O.S.A., for example, was appointed to be the first Bishop of Chulucanas, Peru.
Today, the second bishop in Peru is an Augustinian missionary from Chicago: the Most Reverend Daniel T. Turley, O.S.A. The Augustinians have also established an Augustinian "Vicariate," which hopes to eventually become a fully independent Province of Peruvian Augustinians! These missions continue to serve impoverished mission parishes in the mountains, establish schools in desert cities, and promote justice and peace. This work is only possible through the support of charitable donations to the Augustinians, such as through online giving or donations through mission appeals.
4. You Are Also Called to Be a Missionary
Missionaries are not just people that travel to foreign lands and speak in different languages. Missionaries are all of those that spread the Good News among our families and communities. Pope Piux XI, in fact, created World Mission Sunday in 1926 as a way to unite all those across the globe in the missionary spirit, regardless of where they lived. Bishop John McNabb, O.S.A., who is one of the few surviving attendees of the Second Vatican Council, summed it up quite well recently:
So, this World Mission Sunday, let us remember that ultimately we are all called to be missionaries. You can be a missionary by:
- Praying for those less fortunate than ourselves;
- Sharing the Good News with your family and your local community; or,
- Contributing to this year's World Mission Sunday collection or to the Augustinian missions in Peru.
As St. John Paul II said, "A local church that is not missionary is not fully Catholic." Let's take this weekend to embrace in our inner missionary spirit and spread the Good News however we can!
Written by Patrick T. Murphy, Associate Director for Communications of the Midwest Augustinians