On Evangelli Gaudium Sunday, Pope Francis encourages faithful to “embark on a new chapter of evangelisation”

This weekend, 16th – 17th September, is ‘Evangelii Gaudium Sunday’ or, as it used to be called, ‘Home Mission Sunday’. A time to remind ourselves of the essential mission of the church to spread the joy of the gospel, the Good news not just in far flung places, but here at home in our own backyard.

In the first year of his pontificate, 2013, 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, while striving to find new paths to proclaim the Gospel in today’s world.

Evangelisation is about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of these quietly seek God, led by a yearning to see his face. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel, excluding nobody.

This is the challenge and opportunity we take up on Evangelii Gaudium Sunday. Formerly known as Home Mission Sunday, the Church celebrates Evangelii Gaudium Sunday each year on the third Sunday in September (this year, Sunday September 17).

In his message for this year, Pope Francis calls on the Church to embark on a fundamental change of direction in evangelisation, no longer relying on past structures and actions but reading the signs of the times and acting 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.”

There will be a collection in parishes this Sunday to support the work of the Bishops’ Conference Department of Evangelisation and Discipleship.