A display of artifacts along with Gina Selah’s winning Christmas artwork entry was placed at the base of the sanctuary of St. Mary of the Lakes Church, Medford, where the 2021 diocesan World Mission Sunday Mass was celebrated Oct. 24. Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese photo
A display of artifacts along with Gina Selah’s winning Christmas artwork entry was placed at the base of the sanctuary of St. Mary of the Lakes Church, Medford, where the 2021 diocesan World Mission Sunday Mass was celebrated Oct. 24. Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese photo
Tying together the Gospel Reading for Oct. 24 and the observance of World Mission Sunday, Father Peter James Alindogan reminded the faithful gathered for the diocesan World Mission Sunday Mass that supporting missions through prayer and funding is indeed a way to follow Jesus. 

“When God calls to you, you have to let go of your cloak,” Father Alindogan said, referring to the faith of the blind man Bartimaeus who threw aside his cloak when he encountered Jesus and asked Jesus for the ability to see. And after Bartimaeus’ wish was granted and he could see, Bartimaeus continued to follow Jesus’ path. 

“We follow Jesus on the way by sharing what we have through prayer and financial support,” said Father Alindogan, adding, “and, “by lifting up the many Bartimaeus’ who are probably sitting in the basements of life.” 

The 2021 diocesan World Mission Sunday Mass was celebrated in St. Mary of the Lakes Church, Medford, with Father Alindogan, diocesan missions director, serving as principal celebrant and homilist.  

“The missionary spirit is alive and well in St. Mary of the Lakes in Medford,” Father Alindogan said.

Along with contributing to a collection for the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, an international organization that works to support the religious and lay persons in mission areas throughout the world, the parish’s mission efforts were acknowledged when it was announced that it donated its former altar and pulpit to a parish in Haiti. 

In addition, Father Daniel Swift, pastor, acknowledged the tireless efforts of the guest missionaries, in attendance including: Father Simon Assogba and Father Eliecer Sandoval of the Society of African Missions; Sylvia Allen of Sylvia’s Children, and Maryknoll Brother John Blazo. 

The Mass was also an opportunity to recognize parishioner Gina Selah, a student in the parish religious education program, and one of 24 winners nationwide in the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and the Missionary Childhood Association’s annual National Christmas Artwork Contest for 2021-22. The contest is open to Catholic school, religious education and homeschool students. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Diocese had a finalist in the contest. 

According to diocesan Office of Missions coordinator Maryanne Roman, the Trenton Diocese alone received more than 400 entries this past year.  

“So, this is quite an honor,” Roman said about Selah’s win. 

Participants in the contest were asked to depict images that proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ Birth. Selah, 13, and the other winners will have their original artwork displayed throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. They will also receive a commemorative plaque and be recognized at a ceremony at the Basilica in December. All winning entries will be made available digitally. Selah’s entry will be used for the Diocesan Missions Office’s Christmas Cards. 

“It’s so exciting,” said, Selah, an eighth-grade student at Medford Memorial Middle School. “I’m really proud and honored to be a part of this. I feel overwhelmingly happy.” 

The parish’s religious education program was also applauded for its efforts in supporting the Missionary Childhood Association’s outreach efforts through the 2020-21 school year. The MCA is an international organization of Catholic youth, proving that no one is ever too young to promote his or her faith and help others in need. 

Roman also acknowledged the top three elementary schools and religious education programs in the Diocese with the highest mission contributions. The Catholic schools are: St. Jerome School, West Long Branch, first place; St. Joan of Arc School, Marlton, second place, and Our Lady of Sorrows School, Hamilton, third place. The parish religious education programs are Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Lakewood, first place; St. Veronica Parish, Howell, second place, and St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, third place.