Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
Initiation into the Catholic Church through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist has an essential missionary dimension. The Church by its very constitution is missionary. “Go, make disciples!” Our mission is to proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ by our words and by the witness of our lives. We are called to be light for the world and salt for the earth. Pope Francis often has reminded us that when the Church becomes merely self-referential – more concerned about maintenance than mission – it becomes anemic, at best. The Church exists in a permanent state of mission, and all of us are called to be missionary disciples.
When I was a child, the idea of missions and missionaries conjured images of exotic places. I recall the colorful Maryknoll magazine that regularly came to our home and filled me with admiration for the work of those generous missionaries laboring in faraway places. Those foreign missions still exist and the work of those dedicated men and women remains important. But, in our post-Christian society, there is a mission field much closer to home that requires our attention.