We had the joy of celebrating the apostolic sending of our three young missionaries on the occasion of the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on November 21 2020. The celebration was blissful with the gracious presence of Most Rev. Thelegathoti Joseph Raja Rao SMM, the Bishop of Vijayawada Diocese.

A sense of passion and urgency for the mission was witnessed in these sisters Jojamma Theppala, Teena D’Souza and Jackuline Arul Raj who offered themselves to be sent as the Apostles of Christ, the Sower and the Seed, with generous and convincing response, ‘Here am I, send me!’ (Is 6:8) to the Church in Algeria, Cameroun and Papua New Guinea respectively.

The celebration of the Holy Eucharist cum Missionary Mandate channelized everyone to re-instate the message of Pope Francis, “Our personal vocation” is rooted in “the fact that we are sons and daughters of God in the Church”. Our mission, our call and our willingness to be sent originate in Jesus’ own vocation as “the Father’s Missionary.” On this occasion we recollected thankfully the historical event of the first missionary mandate to India held on 21st November 1947, in Milan, at the request of Msgr. Domenico Grassi, the then Bishop of Bezwada which took place on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Church is missionary in its nature, is substantially sensed in the very act of bringing the global Church to our chapel as the parting missionaries along with main celebrant, other priests and the Provincial direction moved in an entrance procession to the altar carrying the flags of their destined mission and placing them under the maternal care of Immaculate Mary, our Patroness.

‘Who is a true missionary?’ This challenging question posed by Bishop in his homily impressed the assembly to the moment of introspection of our missionary call. The true missionary is the one who makes a difference with her spirit of prayer, apostolic courage, creativity, perseverance and humility stirred us to strive further to distinguish ourselves as missionaries and respond with conviction “Here am I, send me.” 

It was heart-touching to witness the giving of Crucifix and The Holy Bible to the assigned missionaries as an inseparable companion of their apostolate to reveal the mystery of Christ and the Church to all and to make their lives and words the ‘echo’ of Christ’s voice. The spiritual patrimony of the missionary thrust of our Holy Founders and the demands of our missionary call was re-iterated in the prayer recited by the parting missionaries as an act of offering of their lives to God for the mission.

The prayerful presence and blessings of our sisters from different communities were the assuring moments for these ad extra missionaries. Fervent desire to be true missionary that resulted from the participation of missionary mandate enabled the whole assembly to ascertain that the evangelization is our deepest identity and we are called to be exclusively missionaries.

Nirmala Niketan, Vijayawada

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