Rome (Italy). On 6 January 2023, on the Solemnity of the Epiphany la World Mission Day for Children (WMDC), was celebrated with the synodal theme “The mission is done together”.
Pope Francis, in his Message for World Mission Day of 23 October 2022 wrote, “Every baptized person is called to the mission in the Church and on the mandate of the Church. The mission is therefore done together, not individually, in communion with the ecclesial community and not on one’s own initiative. And even if there is someone who in some very particular situation carries out the evangelizing mission alone, he/she carries it out and must always carry it out in communion with the Church that sent him/her.”
In communion with the universal Church, with the creativity that springs from missionary passion, numerous Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from the Provinces of the world carry out initiatives to make children and young people protagonists of the mission, together with other peers, in solidarity with many children of the world.
From St. Mary Mazzarello Province of Austria-Germania, Sr. Birgit Baier, provincial coordinator of the Missions ad gentes and head of the Mission Office in Essen, Germany, shares the Project promoted by the Kindermissionswerk, the German corresponding to the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood, with the “Star Singers”.
Wearing the garb of the Three Kings, annually through the star and songs, in the days preceding the Epiphany, the children of the Catholic parishes of Germany, members of the Missionary Childhood, knock on doors bringing the blessing to families and collecting donations for suffering peers.
Since its inception in 1959, this tradition has grown into the world’s largest children’s solidarity campaign in support of children’s projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and Eastern Europe, in the sectors of education, health, pastoral care, nutrition, and social integration.
“Supporting children, protecting children – in Indonesia and worldwide” is the motto with which the Star Singers, as part of their 65th awareness campaign, draw attention to girls and boys around the world who suffer violence and on their right to be protected, both in the Country chosen for this year – Indonesia – and in Germany and in the rest of the world.
Furthermore, as has been the case for 22 years, on 1 January 2023 a delegation of Star Singers from Germany, Switzerland, Alto Adige, Hungary, Slovakia, participated in the Holy Mass for the Day of Peace presided over by the Holy Father in the Basilica of St. Peter’s, in the Vatican. Before the celebration, they presented Pope Francis with a blue and yellow friendship bracelet from Ukraine, sent by Ukrainian children to the Star Singers as thanks for their support and as a sign of hope for peace for the country devastated by the conflict.
From the Lombardy Province of the Holy Family (ILO), Sr. Loredana Mornata, FMA teacher at Mary Help of Christians Primary School of Lecco, shares the proposal of the “Missionary Camp”, an extra-curricular activity that educates children in fraternity, in solidarity with those near or far, to the missionary dimension of life, through experiences of prayer, play, conscious and responsible use of money in buying and selling at the ‘market’, creative dexterity aimed at highlighting religious or family celebrations.
This proposal is aimed at all pupils from 3rd to 5th Primary who once a month, meet on Friday afternoons to live a missionary experience. By receiving the “Missionary Child’s Identity Card” they publicly commit themselves to being “friends of Jesus through prayer, welcoming everyone, hard work, sharing”.
The ‘camp’ program is as follows: moment of reflection and prayer in the School chapel; news from the Golden Bridge (missionary magazine for children); direct testimony of missionaries passing through the House; missionary game; handicraft workshop (making artifacts that the students themselves then buy and/or sell to help the missionaries); pro-mission second-hand market. In the workroom, a planisphere shows the places where the missionaries live who are helped through their work and fundraisers.
The pupils adhered with enthusiasm and great seriousness to all the proposals, from religious to cultural, to playful and creative manual ones. During the year around the great holidays and anniversaries – Grandparents Day, Christmas, Carnival, Father’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day – the students do small works that teach gratitude, especially towards their own family, so that missionary activity is seen not only in its aspect of “generosity towards distant people” but, as it really is, as the full realization of one’s “being Christian”, all brothers and sisters, starting with those who live next door.
The most desired corner of the “camp” is the flea market, where everyone indulges in looking for little gifts for relatives and friends, and trains to recognize and use measures of value, such as coins, enhancing mathematical skills.
In our Lady of Perpetual Help of Haiti (HAI), Sr. Antoinette Guillaume, provincial coordinator of the Missions ad Gentes, in order to revive the same missionary zeal of the Holy Founders and of the first missionary sisters, proposed to the Educating Communities to commit themselves in the perspective of the future. On 23 December 2022, many children in fact gave their willingness to be ‘little missionaries’ in response to the needs of the local church in which they live, committing themselves to being protagonists in proclaiming the Gospel to all other children of their age. Sr. Antoinette and some volunteers try to teach them how to pray well and, at the same time, promoted a fundraiser with the children to make Christmas gifts for prisoners.
With these initiatives, children are educated to give ‘a little piece of themselves’ to others; to learn to act together, in community; to pursue an objective of solidarity with small choices in favor of the neediest children; to acquire new knowledge in relation to other cultures and lifestyles.
Gracias, por compartir cuanta Vida sinodad, acompanamos con Ntra oracion para q siga creciendo la Vocacion misionera de Los pequenos… Llevar la alegria del Anuncio… Bendiciones. Sor Aida Roncal