A Call to Mission in England and Wales
In 2013, the first year of his pontificate, Pope Francis released an Apostolic Exhortation on the joy of the Gospel titled Evangelii Gaudium. In it, he encouraged the Christian faithful to “embark on a new chapter of evangelisation” marked by this joy, whilst striving to find new paths to proclaim the Gospel in today’s world.
We cannot forget that evangelisation is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of these are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face… Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone.Evangelii Gaudium, §14
This is the challenge and opportunity we take up on Evangelii Gaudium Sunday. Formerly known as Home Mission Sunday, Evangelii Gaudium Sunday is celebrated each year on the Third Sunday in September.
The work of encounter and evangelisation is promoted through the Directorate for Mission. Through this directorate, the vision of the Holy Father is embraced in a fuller way and promotes the whole ideal of proclamation, evangelisation, dialogue and catechesis.
Evangelii Gaudium Sunday calls us to be joyous in proclaiming our faith. “Evangelii Gaudium” is Latin for “Joy of the Gospel”. The day supports the work carried out by the Mission Directorate on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference.
A key focus of work for the next few years is responding to Pope Francis’ calling of a Jubilee Year in 2025 with the theme Pilgrims of Hope. The Holy Father has invited the whole Church to prepare for the Jubilee in the two years prior through:
To support the Church in England and Wales in this important initiative the Mission Directorate has produced a series of videos on the four Constitutions which reflect on the Liturgy, the Word of God, the Church and on its role in the modern world.
A range of resources are being prepared for the Year of Prayer in 2024. Resources include a course on the Lord’s Prayer for small groups during Lent, which aim to encourage different ways of praying. The Mission Directorate will be supporting the Jubilee co-ordinator appointed by each diocese.
Pope Francis calls on the Church to embark on a fundamental change of direction when it comes to evangelisation, no longer relying on past structures and actions but to read the signs of the times and act passionately in proclaiming the unique message of the Gospel that brings joy to all people who receive it with an open heart.
He says: “I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” EG, §27
Here we will explore four Constitutions of Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium - the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Lumen Gentium - Light of the Nations, Dei Verbum - Word of God, Gaudium et spes - the Church in the Modern World.
Bishop Mark O'Toole, Lead Bishop for Evangelisation and Discipleship, calls on us to explore the constitutions of Vatican II in preparation for the Jubilee Year as Pilgrims of Hope.
Evangelii Gaudium Sunday is named after Pope Francis’ first (solo) Apostolic Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, the day offers the Catholic community in England and Wales the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of our faith and our commitment to witness to the fullness of life in Christ.