The Missionary day for Children or Holy Childhood day in some parts of the world is celebrated during Christmas season and on Epiphany Sunday. It is important to Note that Epiphany does not mean Missionary Children, rather, Missionary day for children and is celebrated on Epiphany Sunday (chaka cha kuonekera kapena kudziulura kwa Mwana Yesu kuti ndi Mpulumutsi).
There are a lot of lessons drawn from the day of Epiphany of the Lord. The child Jesus, though a baby (in a vulnerable state), appears/shows himself to the whole world as light and source of salvation. Our children though young, are also agents of evangelization and have to be respected, accorded the dignity they deserve, be allowed to serve the Church and be witnesses of the Gospel to the ends of the world.
The Pontifical Mission Society of the Holy Childhood takes lead in providing awareness and preparations for the Missionary Day for children. The moto for Holy Childhood is Children evangelizing fellow children or children helping children. This celebration for children is also a demonstration of the Catholic Church in upholding, promoting and enforcing the four fundamental principles of children’s rights
(1) Non-discrimination (all children are welcome and are given space to live their full potential); (2) Best Interest of the child; (3) The right to survival and development; (4) Views of children (and participation/involvement) in life of the Church and Society.
Theme for 2022 and host parish and Diocese of the National Celebration on 2nd January 2022
• Theme 2022: “You will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
• St. Michael-Bangwe Parish in the Archdiocese of Blantyre was chosen by the Bishops Conference to host the Children’s mission celebration.
• Leaders, children, parents and animators are to deepen their understanding on the Society of Holy Childhood and the missionary role of children in the Church and the chosen theme.
• The Diocesan PMS Office in the Archdiocese of Blantyre has been instrumental in giving initial preparatory formation and meetings at Bangwe Parish. PMS National Office also has been giving formation to parents, leaders and children to prepare them for this great day.
On this day children of Bangwe and in all Catholic Communities, will take an active role in Liturgy: singing, reading the Word of God, making announcements, leading liturgical dance, making offertory procession etc. After mass, the Children will be given the opportunity to express what they have learnt at Church and teach fellow children and adults through songs, poems, drama, dances, role-plays etc. It is also important to give chance to children to talk and discuss issues that affect them as members of the Church and society.
Points for reflection on the 2022 theme:
• The theme this year is empowering children to take up the missionary role at a tender age.
• The Holy Father and the Catholic Church through animation of PMS, emphases three fundamental ways children can do missionary work:
- Through Prayer: Prayer is the most important missionary activity or the very first pastoral action that helps in converting souls to Christ and transforming the world.
- Through Services: daily services at home, at school, at Church and towards other people, especially the poor, the needy, the sick, the abandoned and other fellow children. As friends of Jesus, Children love to do faith-action and serve with passion.
- Through contributions or offering of money: when children are taught to offer and contribute money or material support towards a particular cause, they respond and do it with joy and concern for the one in need.
Today the Catholic Church in Africa (Malawi in particular) Asia and other mission territories, has primary schools, children’s hospitals and many orphanages constructed and supported through offerings and collections from children.
For children to do these three important missionary actions they must be given proper Christian (missionary) formation. Holy Childhood, on behalf of the Church and the Holy Father, provides this formation during Catechism lessons.