Celebrate with Maryknoll Oct. 16 at St. Mary’s Cathedral

World Mission Sunday is Oct. 23, but Catholics of the Diocese of Peoria have a rare opportunity this Sunday, Oct. 16, to start the celebration early and personalize it.

Members of the mission society Maryknoll, which is celebrating 100 years of spreading the Gospel in more than 40 countries, will be present at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria for a 10:30 a.m. centennial Mass, to be followed by a reception.

Several members of the order from central Illinois will take part in the diocesan celebration. In fact, Maryknoll missioners will be present at all cathedral Masses over the weekend of Oct. 15-16.

But while promotional materials say it will be an opportunity to thank the people of the Diocese of Peoria for their prayers and generous support during the past 100 years, we see it as our opportunity to thank a few of the men and women who have given their lives to a mission we all share through baptism. People like Maryknoll priests from the Diocese of Peoria Father William Donnelly, Father Michael Gould, and Father James Madden; Maryknoll Sisters Joan Berninger and Helen Fitton; and lay missioner Dr. Susan Nagele.

Maryknoll, properly known as the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, was established in 1911 by the bishops of the United States to recruit, train, send and support American missioners overseas. They were known as the “Marines of the Catholic Church” because they would go to the roughest areas and learn the language.

Today there are about 400 Maryknollers, half of whom serve in 27 countries abroad. The others are working in mission education in the U.S. or living in retirement.

Celebrate with some of them at our cathedral this Sunday if you can, and make your observance of World Mission Sunday that much more meaningful. — Thomas J. Dermody

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