Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This weekend is Cooperative Mission Sunday in the Diocese of Bridgeport. At Masses throughout Fairfield County, missionaries from around the world will share their work and ministry with us, inviting each parish to support their work and participate in the mission of the whole Church to spread the Gospel. The second collection taken at Masses goes to help these missions financially. We call it “cooperative” both because the collections taken by each parish go into a single fund to be divided equally among all the missions that join our parishes this weekend, and because by our contributions to this collection, we can share in the missionary work in some small way, even if we are unable to physically lend our hands and efforts.
Here at St. Pius, I am happy to welcome Sr. Maria Regina Mgbakor, IHM, a member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Nigeria. She came to the United States in 2002 to further her education, earning a BA in Business Management from Mount Mercy University, as well as an MBA and Masters in Healthcare Administration from Seton Hall University. She has helped to build and supply schools in Nigeria and in 2016, she began the Maranatha Caring Mission (https://maranathacm.org/), which is dedicated to establishing free medical clinics for the poor in Nigeria. In this, Sister and those who serve with her in Maranatha Caring Mission seek to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and offer the services that will alleviate the sufferings of the poor as the Holy Spirit guides them. In a special way, Maranatha is dedicated, among other things, to serving the elderly poor, providing cataract surgeries, and providing neonatal care to women and babies in rural areas. Since being established, they have served over 30,000 patients free of charge.
The concrete things carried out in the missions often receive the most attention. Lest we think that the mission work of the Church is limited to the humanitarian field, organizations like Maranatha Caring Mission remind us that the foundation for any humanitarian work is the Gospel. When we read the Gospel, we see that discipleship and imitating the example of Jesus cannot be separated from care, compassion, and service offered to those in need. In fact, it is love for Jesus that inspires every good work undertaken on behalf of those in need. It is a desire to bring Jesus to the poor, suffering, and vulnerable so that they might experience both material, physical relief and the spiritual healing and grace that comes from God. Missionary work often involves humanitarian care because many of those who are in need perceive themselves to be abandoned by God: their material poverty becomes a reflection of their spiritual destitution. As we reflected last week, the natural law tells us we must care for those who suffer. Divine revelation takes that natural imperative to a new level. We see in the teaching of Jesus that we are to care for those in need not only to meet their natural needs, but for a supernatural purpose, motivated by love for God.
Maranatha Caring Mission not only seeks to serve the physical and material needs of people in Nigeria. They also seek to serve people with the Good News of the Gospel, to help them experience the closeness of God, to know His blessings, and to live according to His abundant graces. Our participation in the Co-Op Mission Sunday collection invites us to support this good work, to make possible both the spread of the Gospel and the care for fundamental human needs that remain ever present.