In midst of pandemic, missionaries are still called to do God’s work, faithful hear

On the day in which faithful around the world were called to remember the works of those serving in mission territories, Father Peter James Alindogan asked the congregants gathered to ban together.

“World Mission Sunday is about the message of all of us being together and facing the pandemic together,” Father Alindogan said, referring to Pope Francis’ words that even during the challenges of COVID-19, “the call to mission, the invitation to step out of ourselves for love of God and neighbour presents itself as an opportunity for sharing, service and intercessory prayer.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Diocesan World Mission Sunday Mass 2020

Father Alindogan, diocesan missions director and pastor of St. Veronica Parish, Howell, was principal celebrant and homilist of the diocesan World Mission Sunday Mass Oct. 18 in St. Jerome Church, which is part of Our Lady of Hope Parish, West Long Branch.

He was joined at the altar by Father Sheldon Amasa, pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish, and Father Daison Areepparampil, parochial vicar of St. James Parish, Red Bank, who has served in missionary work. Father Areepparampil served among the poor in the Philippines for more than 20 years, and he has made mission appeals on behalf of the Archdiocese of Delhi, India.

In his homily, Father Alindogan challenged the faithful to reflect on the 2020 World Mission Sunday theme, “Here I Am, Send Me,” asking them to consider how they might give to God –through time, talent, artistic abilities, teaching, devotion to prayer or performing works of charity. He urged them to continue their good works and to always place their trust in the Lord. 

God’s mission is present in what we do and what we share,” he said. “We are missionaries of God the father.” 

Other mission-related announcements also took place during the Mass. The diocesan Missions Office announced the Catholic schools and parish religious education programs that had the highest per capita contributions to the missions this year. This was based on the amount they gave as reflected on the number of enrolled students. The elementary schools were St. Jerome School, West Long Branch, first place; St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold, second place, and Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly, honorable mention.

The religious education programs honored for their total contributions were St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square, first place; St. Rose, Belmar, second place, and Our Lady of Hope, honorable mention.

Filippini Sister Carolyn Houck from St. Gregory the Great Parish was present for the Mass and accepted the award on behalf of her parish’s religious education program. She noted that she sees missions as being important because “they are the future of the Church.”

Father Alindogan also introduced the two representatives from Outreach to Haiti, Conor Brooks, chairman of the board, and Geri O’Hare, board member, who attended the Mass. Outreach to Haiti is based in the Diocese of Norwich, Conn., and is a 35-year-old nonprofit organization that seeks to assist people in Haiti with health care services, student sponsorships and support of other educational opportunities and orphanages.

Another highlight of the day was the presentation of awards to Nina Bruno and Frank Marcantonio, both fourth-graders in St. Jerome School, who were named winners in the 2020 Holy Childhood Association’s Christmas Artwork contest. Bruno and Marcantonio were two out of 24 students nationwide to have their artwork chosen as winners.

“This is the first time in our Diocese that we have two student-winners coming from one school,” Father Alindogan said, then noted that their entries bested 2,000 other students on the national level.

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