The statues of St. Francis Xavier, St. Teresa of the Child Jesus and Mother Mary are taken for a procession ahead of a Mass in Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta on Oct. 1, marking the start the Extraordinary Missionary Month. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)
Church people in Indonesia have lined up a series of programs to observe the Extraordinary Missionary Month, which Pope Francis has set to rejuvenate missionary spirit in the universal Church.
The special month began on Oct. 1 on the feast of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, the patroness of the missions.
All 38 diocese dioceses in Indonesia are observing the month with special programs, said Father Markus Nurwidi Pranoto, secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Mission.
Father Pranoto, also director of the Indonesian Pontifical Mission Societies, urged Catholics to renew their missionary spirit during his homily in Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church in Jakarta.
The month-long programs across the globe mark the centenary of Pope Benedict XV’s 1919 apostolic letter Maximum Illud.
The papal document gained significance as the first Vatican record to establish principles of the modern mission, separating it from Eurocentric colonial activities.
Pope Francis on World Mission Sunday in 2017 designated October 2019 as Extraordinary Missionary Month with the global theme “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.”
Programs in Indonesia include “intensified prayers for the missions, reflecting Catholic teachings on the missions, taking concrete actions such as charitable giving, and showing solidarity with others,” Father Pranoto said.
It was significant to start the month on the feast of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus as she became a Doctor of the Church and the patron of the missions without going to a foreign land as a missionary.
“She manifested her missionary spirit by devoting herself to prayers,” the priest recalled.
The French nun, also known St. Teresa of Lisieux, was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997, 100 years after her death at the age of 24.
Father Pranoto urged Indonesian Catholics to follow the example of St. Paul, who maintained proclaiming the Gospel “is a must and not a choice. Every baptized Catholic is duty-bound to proclaim the Gospel,” he said.
Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang in Central Java in a pastoral letter said that missionary work does not always mean going to foreign lands and preaching the Gospel.
Missionary work, as Pope Francis has asserted, would also mean “building human relations in order to generate justice and common welfare,” Archbishop Rubiyatmoko said.
Bernadette Setiadi, a parishioner of St. James Church in North Jakarta and a medical doctor, has been a missionary for 19 years in Indonesia.
“I visit villages in Indonesia to offer charitable programs to villagers. Faith without work is dead,” she told ucanews.com.