The National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Puerto Rico, Mgr. Daniel Fernández, Bishop of Arecibo, invites us to the celebration of World Mission Sunday (DOMUND) and cites an episode from the Gospel in this context, reported Fides News Agency.
“Can we talk about a “Church that goes forth” and close our churches? Can we speak of a “Church as a field hospital if we are afraid of anointing the sick?” This pandemic brings us to think of the scene of the paralyzed at the pool of Bethesda (cf. Jn 5). How many thousands of people, despite returning to the celebration of masses, remain at the edge of the pool of Bethesda, unable to get into the water and receive healing! This sick person was 38 years old and wished he could go into the water … but his illness made it impossible for him. But Jesus did not remain indifferent, he does not forget anyone. He does not forget those who still attend Mass from home because the “Angel of the Lord” is present in the churches where they, due to the pandemic, cannot enter.
This is our mission in the midst of this pandemic, said the National Director. Believers should bring Jesus to the outskirts “under the arcades”, where “there are many sick, including the blind, lame, and crippled” (Jn 5: 3), awaiting the presence of God. As prophets of truth, they should continue to denounce sin.
With this pandemic, “we got caught in an unexpected and furious storm”, said the Bishop, but Jesus’ message has not changed. “But are we always open to ” God’s surprises” as Pope Francis invites us? These surprises will always lead us to reach these suburbs in ever new ways and free the men and women of today from the slavery of sin”.
Fr. José Orlando Camacho Torres, CSSp, Deputy National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, also starts from the current situation and invites the Catholic community to prepare for World Mission Sunday. “We in Puerto Rico know what an “unexpected and furious storm” means. As if that weren’t enough, our brothers and sisters on the southwest coast of the island are hit by hundreds of earthquakes and countless aftershocks that cause houses to collapse, shops, churches, streets, and even worse, the lives of thousands of families who are forced to immigrate to the United States in the face of total vulnerability and insecurity”.
“In February we started preparations for “CAM 6-Puerto Rico 2023” from Mexico. When we started talking about the “church that goes forth” and the “church with open doors”, we had to close everything because of the pandemic, a true missionary paradox. For this reason, we would like to inform you that the collection on World Mission Sunday has not been canceled, while the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples also calls on all dioceses of the world to show solidarity for the universal mission”.
The Pontifical Mission Societies of Puerto Rico have prepared a rich program for World Mission Sunday, which can also be followed via the Internet, including the prayer vigils, the rosary for the missionaries, educational initiatives, and much more, as can be read on their website omp-puertorico.com.