Today is World Mission Sunday, a day on which Catholics of every land join together in prayer for the Worldwide Mission of the Church and contribute towards its support. We shall take a retiring collection.
What does mission mean in practice?
Bishop Paride Taban is called South Sudan’s Desmond Tutu. Now, aged 81, he is one of the few South Sudanese who can remember peace in their country. In 1999, Bishop Paride started a farm on the eastern edge of South Sudan. Today that farm has become the Holy Spirit Peace Village: an oasis of peace. In stark contrast to the rest of this scarred and divided country, the Peace Village is home to people from 24 different tribes who live and work happily together. It is a model of harmonious and sustainable living and the place where he lives in a very active retirement.
Recently, Bishop Paride’s spirit of peace prevented a revenge attack after a little child, John, was kidnapped. Before the spirit of peace took hold, John’s ordeal would have triggered ‘an eye for an eye justice’ from one tribe to another. Cattle would have been stolen, or another child abducted or killed. But John was returned to his family in good health. After a week of tears, John’s mother is happy again, declaring that: ‘Without the Peace Village, our child would just have disappeared. Although l am angry with the people who did this, I know that we must learn to live alongside the communities around us.’
Recently, Bishop Paride received the Hubert Walter Award from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at a ceremony in London in recognition of his half a century promoting Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation, often at great personal risk.
Without the help of money donated to Missio over the past 90 years, Bishop Paride could never been educated and ordained a priest and he could never have built up his diocese or achieved so much in the service of the Gospel.
Now to another important issue. This Friday, 27th of October,
a rally will be held in Parliament Square with a minute of prayerful silence at 11.05 am, commemorating the moment the Abortion Bill became law. In St Michael & St John’s, the Rosary will be prayed at 11.30am on Saturday. Please try and join us and certainly don’t let 50 years and the deaths of 8 million children pass without marking this tragic anniversary in some way.