Monday, August 24, 2009

Missions? Really?

Yesterday, most of the homily time at St. Thomas Aquinas was taken up by an appeal on behalf of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur -- specifically their missions program in third world countries. Our priest called it the best mission-oriented message he had heard.

Yet I noticed something that left me very uneasy. The nun who spoke described quite a few charitable efforts going on at Notre Dame missions: teaching their African students to raise their own food, for example, so they wouldn't have to sit through their classes hungry.

Laudable, yes. But I kept waiting for any mention of the main thing that I thought missions were supposed to be for: bringing the Catholic Faith to those who don't have it. I waited. And I waited. And then the speech was over.

I have no doubt the Notre Dame sisters do many charitable things in foreign countries. But really, how is this different from what many secular groups do, like the Peace Corps? And frankly, often do better?

Why don't they want to emphasize -- or even mention -- the one thing that Catholic religious orders have always been proudest to do -- tell the world about Christ and His Church?