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Fr Billy Swan

Dear friends. Here in the parish of Wexford on this Mission Sunday, at both the 11am Mass in Bride St and the 12pm Mass in Rowe St, the Parish Council and the Parish Care Team will be formally commissioned. The Parish Pastoral Council emerged after our successful mission in October last year entitled ‘A Mission for All’ and the Parish Care Team emerged from within the Pastoral Council itself. This team will focus on outreach to the housebound, the sick and bereaved.

Can I quickly reassure people that these new groups are not cliques or a select few. They are structures centered on people who have a message of care and compassion and who wish to connect with the wider community, in Christ’s name. Their membership is open to change, growth and expansion. They are groups whose existence and work is to encourage more people to volunteer, to get involved and go on mission too.

This missionary movement is not confined to Wexford but is moving across the whole diocese and the whole Catholic world. In recent weeks, Bishop Ger has held a series of meetings across the diocese, encouraging people to come forward with their gifts and put them at the service of the whole community. The response was very positive. Out of the hundreds who attended, 164 people responded, showing interest in ministries such as Pastoral Care, Ministers of the Word, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, catechists, leading small groups in prayer, praying with Scripture, personal development, spirituality, theology, administration and marriage preparation, to name but a few. On the world stage, in these days in Rome, delegates from Churches all over the world are meeting in synod to discern ways that will lead to greater communion, participation and mission in the life of the Church.

For as Pope Francis reminds us: ‘Unless we train ministers capable of warming hearts, of walking with people in the night, of dialoguing with their hopes and disappointments, of mending their brokenness, what hope can we have for our present and future journey? It isn’t true that God’s presence has been dimmed in them. Let us learn to look at things more deeply. What is missing is someone to warm their hearts’ (28th July 2013).

Friends, to see so many people express an interest in getting more involved in our Church is something that certainly warms my heart and gives me hope for the future. To see the wonderful volunteers we have here in Wexford Parish at all levels including the Pastoral Council and the Parish Care Team commissioned this weekend, warms all our hearts as our Parish responds to the call to be a truly missionary Church. And again, these groups do not exist for themselves but for others and whose work is to encourage all the baptised to become missionary disciples of the Lord Jesus, in their own right.

The theme of this year’s Mission Sunday is: “Hearts on fire, feet on the move”, taken from St Luke’s account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. As we celebrate Mission Sunday, as always we support and pray for the work of missionaries abroad. But as we know, Ireland is now mission territory and the harvest is rich. ‘So let us set out once more, illumined by our encounter with the risen Lord and prompted by his Spirit. Let us set out again with burning hearts, with our eyes open and our feet in motion. Let us set out to make other hearts burn with the word of God, to open the eyes of others to Jesus in the Eucharist, and to invite everyone to walk together on the path of peace and salvation that God, in Christ, has bestowed upon all humanity' (Pope Francis, Message for World Day of Mission 2023).


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