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As we continue during the 50 days of the Easter Season we honor our mothers and especially our heavenly Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. The theme, “Mary, Mother of Missions” applies aptly to the month of May. It was a theme replayed frequently during our recent Pontifical Mission Societies of the United States National Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. About 180 dioceses across the United States, including the Diocese of San Bernardino, were represented at this conference. Much was discussed to forward the good works of the Lord on behalf of the many underserved. As Pope Francis has expressed, “The poor are not just people to whom we can give something. They have much to offer us and teach us.” 

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans began the conference by celebrating Mass in the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. He spoke about how “The Blessed Virgin Mary was making a difference in the world.” Archbishop Aymond referred to the Blessed Mother as the “Mother of the Missions.” He spoke about how our Blessed Mother began her Mission in this world by saying “Yes.” Her journey began which led to the Son of Man being born to eventually walk on earth as living proof that God is alive and real. Jesus allows us to fulfill our mission as we do good works in this world. Christ is central in our hearts, bringing us full circle as we complete our missions. We owe this to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Archbishop Aymond said, “How many people does it take to make a difference? One at a time.”

Did you know that you are 90% richer than the world’s population? Right here in the United States between two and three million people go to bed hungry every night. We learned about these facts at the conference. Father Ron Rolheiser, OMI, spoke about “Giving from our sustenance-not our surplus.” We can witness this through our Blessed Mother’s example, by not asking for anything for ourselves; but by simply accepting our own personal missions. Fr. Rolheiser spoke about Luke’s Gospel; which tells us to be generous with everything. Are we really giving of ourselves if it’s just the extra? Fr. Rolheiser said, “We don’t have the right to surplus if not everybody has sustenance.”

All of these topics led us to the conclusions that as people of faith we need to do more for those in need. Prayer is primary in helping people to heal. Action is next. Invite more of your family and friends to join you in mission. Give them the opportunity to help others. You will not be asking anything for yourself. “Nobody gets to heaven without a reference from the poor,” said one pastor from New Orleans. Just like the Blessed Mother said “Yes” to her mission. One person can make a difference in the world. It only takes a “yes.” 

Msgr. Thomas Wallace is director of the Mission Office in the Diocese of San Bernardino.