• The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
  • The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
  • The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
  • The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
  • The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
  • The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
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MISSION & Archbishop Sheen

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen published the first issue of MISSION magazine in the spring of 1951.  As its founding editor, then Monsignor Sheen wrote:  “The purpose of MISSION is to ‘comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable’:  to comfort the afflicted by bringing the impoverished of body and soul, bread and the Eucharist; to afflict the comfortable by reminding them that they need the poor more than the poor need them.” 

“To wed the afflicted and the comfortable is our humble mission, our dedicated task, our abiding love,” he concluded in that first editorial.

Today, more than 60 years after that editorial was written, this publication continues to introduce readers to the mission story, making the vital connection between those who hear the Good News of Jesus – and those who support the work and witness of the missionaries who proclaim the reason for our hope, Jesus Christ.

 

 

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PMS-MissionMag-ReadMoreA stunt man, a priest, a pilot.

There is no joking about the life of Father Clark Yates, a missionary with the Society of African Missions (SMA) who died in January just a few weeks shy of his 88th birthday.

Born in Florida, he served with the U.S. Army right after high school, flying 28 combat missions as a ball turret gunner, receiving a medal of honor for his efforts. On his return home, before choosing the priesthood, he was a stunt man on a popular television show in his native Florida. He would tell of jumping from a diving tower into a tank of water -- with his shirt set ablaze.

But it was his priestly service as a missionary in Liberia that set his heart on fire with the desire to share the Good News of Jesus with the poor. During his 30 years there, he constantly sought ways to get the Gospel message to the interior peoples of that African nation, using even a plane to do so. The first resident missionary in Barclayville, he wrote a catechism for the people he served, using their local dialect. He ran a simple medical clinic, also providing, the SMA newsletter observed, “doses of compassion with each prescription.”

When civil war broke out in Liberia in the early 1990s, he was forced to leave for a time, but soon returned – at the age of 77 – to serve Liberian refugees in neighboring Ivory Coast. I remember interviewing him for MISSION about those times, and his telling me, “Their faith – the Church – is all they had to turn to.” In an interview for the SMA newsletter, he commented: “We saw how the people supported one another and the gratitude they had for whatever help they received. We saw God with us.” And those who greeted him during the last years of his life noted that they never left without seeing a “smile on his face.”

Smiles. They fill the pages of this MISSION – including the smile of our new Holy Father, Pope Francis. (In the past, these pages even once included the smiling face of missionary Father Yates.) And those smiles are found, at times, on faces in perhaps the most unlikely places – a rehabilitation center, an orphanage, a poor mission parish; someone sitting in a wheelchair or confined to a bed. But those smiles are born from the same joy that filled Father Yates’ heart, and fills ours. It is the joy of faith – faith in knowing what Father Yates saw in Liberia, what missionaries see in the four corners of the globe; faith from seeing “God with us.”

And how great to be a part of supporting those smiles – by sending prayers and help to the priests, religious and lay catechists who keep working that joy, as they keep sharing that faith in the Source of all joy, hope and love, Jesus. “We saw God with us.” Indeed.

–Monica Ann Yehle

 

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