Program Helps Home Mission Diocese Students Respond to Mission Call

Posted: 10/11/2012

In late October, for the second consecutive  year, Glenmary will participate in the Salina (Kan.) diocese's mission education program for schools during the week leading up to World Mission Sunday (Oct. 21). Glenmary first vice president Father Neil Pezzulo and vocation director Brother David Henley will lead sessions at all five diocesan high schools over five days.

"We're honored to be invited again," says Father Neil. "It's a chance to raise students' awareness about mission needs and Glenmary's ministry in the South and Appalachia." Brother David adds "we'll talk about how we're all called to respond to those needs in the best ways we can, some possibly through missionary vocations."

As in previous years, the program theme—"Missionaries of Faith" (emphasizing sharing faith as evangelizers)—is the same as the World Mission Sunday theme, says Father Steve Heina, director of the Salina-diocese Propagation of the Faith office. "Glenmary's experience working in rural home mission areas will again be a valuable resource for us, since we're a rural home mission diocese. Also, Brother David's presentations last year were very interactive and interesting."

Father Steve believes the annual program he has helped establish is somewhat unique among U.S. dioceses: "First, we ask missionary groups from outside our diocese to give presentations. Second, every grade school and high school student participates every year. And third, we think we're the only home mission diocese that offers such a comprehensive program."

The Salina diocese has 43,000 Catholics—about 13 percent of the population-spread over 27,000 square miles. And as in other home mission dioceses, he says, resources are in short supply or not as accessible as in more urban areas, including pastoral and social services. So some support from outside sources is needed.

But describing home mission dioceses as needing outside aid to function well, says Father Steve, doesn't give a complete picture of the people in those dioceses. "Our (mission education) program helps students become aware of U.S. and world mission needs and what they themselves have to give, as opposed to seeing themselves as just recipients of assistance from outside sources.

"It also helps them understand they have the opportunity and responsibility to share with other people and the Church in any ways they can, both in and beyond their own communities. And because Glenmary missioners serve people in other rural home mission areas, Glenmary's stories have special meaning."

The diocese also invites missionary groups involved in its annual school mission education program to apply for inclusion in its Missionary Cooperation Plan appeals program the following year. Father Neil and Father Aaron Wessman gave appeal presentations at four parishes this past summer. "We welcomed the chance to talk with adult parishioners, too," says Father Neil.

Glenmary mission education programs are available for other dioceses, schools and parishes. For details, contact Glenmary's Mission Education and Ministry Office at 800-935-0975.

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2012 Home Mission News.