Summary of today’s show: This Sunday is World Mission Sunday and Fr. Rodney Copp, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Boston, joins Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor to talk about the work of supporting the missions—especially Mass cards and stipends—and how it is the duty of every Catholic to be a missionary, even if you never leave home. One way to be a missionary is to engage the work of the New Evangelization and invite a friend or family member to go to Mass with you some week. Scot, Fr. Chris, and Fr. Copp also discuss Fr. Copp’s parishes he serves—St. Charles Borromeo in Waltham and St. Gerard Majella in Canton—as well as his work as the Promoter of Justice in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Listen to the show:
Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Chris O’Connor
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Rodney Copp
Links from today’s show:
- Pontifical Mission Societies Boston
- St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Waltham
- St. Gerard Majella Parish, Canton
- One Family in Mission: Society for the Propagation of the Faith
Today’s topics: Fr. Rodney Copp and World Mission Sunday
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed Fr. Chris O’Connor to the show and he said that this week the political campaign season has picked up. He asked Fr. Chris how the debate-watching goes at the seminary. The faculty usually gather to watch together. He said that he typically is the one yelling at the TV. Scot said there’s lots of talk about what moderator Candy Crowley will be doing during the debate. She has said she will do what she wants. Fr. Chris said she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Fr. Chris attended the St. James Society dinner this past Sunday. The seminary often takes seminarians to their missions in Peru to show how and why the diocesan priest can be involved in the life of the missions. He said Fr. Peter Quinn at St. Catherine in Westford was honored for his support of the society. He said we all must play some role in spreading the Gospel throughout the universal church. Scot said that the Pontifical Mission Society does that as well.
He said this weekend is World Mission Sunday and the following Sunday, Cardinal Seán will speak to all Catholic parishioners on Question 2. Joining us next will be Fr. Rodney Copp, director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Boston.
2nd segment: Scot and Fr. Chris discussed an ad for the Committee Against Physician-Assisted Suicide that just aired.
Scot welcomed Fr. Rodney Copp to the show. He’s the pastor of St. Gerard Majella in Canton and administrator of St. Charles Borromeo in Waltham. They discussed how he’s been moving from Waltham to Canton. He’s still attached to Waltham because the parish had just started an increased offertory program so he agreed to stay on for six more months. He said the staff in Canton have been helpful to him as well. He was in Waltham for 15 years.
He said St. Gerard’s is a big parish with 1,000 kids in CCD. He said being pastor there would be a full-time job alone, but the great staff there has been a great gift. He said there were 7 pastors in 100 years in Waltham and 5 pastors in 50 years in Canton and he’s known all of the pastors in Canton.
Scot asked how he balances the three jobs he has now. Fr. Copp said he’s also Promoter of Justice for the Archdiocese in the Tribunal. He said that most of what he does is in Braintree at the Pastoral Center. He’s in the parishes nights and weekend.
Fr. Chris asked about the Tribunal work. Fr. Copp said he was a judge in the Tribunal for 10 years and worked a lot in marriages and then in the clergy sex abuse trials. He said most of what they deal with is very old cases. He said part of the job of Promoter of Justice is to participate in canonizations. He’s currently working on a case for an Opus Dei priest, Fr. Joseph Muzquiz. He said he was a holy man, humble and much concerned with others. He’s buried at St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury. His job is to look at the evidence and find any objections there might to present a balanced brief when sending the case to the COngregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.
Fr. Copp has been at St. Gerard since the end of August. He said they’re heavily committed to the social justice teachings. Part of that was due to Fr. Bernard McLaughlin. He knew Fr. McLaughlin when he was newly ordained in 1959 and came to St. John’s in Peabody when Fr. Copp was in grade school. He later served in East Boston, where he gained his desire to work for the poor.
St. Gerard also has high Mass attendance and its 1,000 kids in religious education puts among the top 15 parishes in the archdiocese. They’re getting the kids involved in the Missionary Childhood Association from the Pontifical Mission Societies. The mission societies’ primary focus is to bring the Gospel message to bear in places where people have never heard the name of Jesus. There are four mission societies: Society for the Propagation of the Faith; Society of St. Peter the Apostle (for seminaries and religious in missionary countries); Missionary Childhood (which used to be Holy Childhood); and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, which provides spiritual support.
World Mission Sunday is this upcoming Sunday. It promotes all the mission societies. It started in 1926 by Pope Pius XI to renew the commitment to the spread of the Gospel. October is mission month to coincide with Columbus bringing the faith to the New World. It’s appropriate that the Year of Faith begins in October. Scot asks why it’s the third or fourth Sunday and Fr. Copp said it’s always the second-to-last Sunday in October just so that people would know when it is every year. The primary purpose is to educate about the missions and to take up a collection for the support of mission activities all over the world. Last year, World Mission Sunday in Boston produced $428,000 for the missions. They also brought in $650,000 in a missionary cooperative program that brings missionaries to parishes to speak throughout the year. He said Mass stipends have been decreasing, which support priests in many mission dioceses. They also send a great number of Mass stipends to the St. James Society. Fr. Copp said you can make an offering for Mass for someone who’s living, for someone who’s recently deceased or who passed a long time ago. He said many parishes support them this way, but people can also contact the Pontifical Mission Societies directly or talk to their pastor and see if he’s willing to do that.
Fr. Copp said he’s been on the job two years and he has’t been able to go to the missions yet because of his work as a pastor. He said some give by going and some go by giving. You don’t actually have to go to the missions to be a missionary.
Fr. Copp said they send a clergy guide out to pastors for Mission Sunday, with suggestions for prayers of the faithful, suggestions for including ethnic groups in music, readings, and more.
Scot asked why Boston is such a big supporter of missions. Fr. Copp said Archbishop Walsh was founder of the Maryknoll Society and so it’s part of our long history. In many ways the Archdiocese of Boston has always been an immigrant church, with special welcome for each wave of immigrants. Cardinal Cushing put the missions on the map. He wanted to be a missionary priest and Cardinal O’Connell assigned him to the Pontifical Mission Societies. Fr. Chris related a story that Cardinal Cushing tendered his resignation to Pope John XXIII on the opening say of the Second Vatican Council in order to go to the mission and was denied by the Pope.
Scot said a large number of people give a standard amount to every second collection. What would Fr. Copp say to encourage a little bit larger donation? Fr. Copp said it’s a varied ministry in the missions but the Gospel comes with many good things like clean water or more food.
Fr. Chris told a story of St. James Society priests about how a MAryknoll priest confronted the president of Peru about the lack of water in a poor town and how the water was then brought to the village. The poor of these countries often rely on missionaries to speak for them.
3rd segment: Scot reminded listeners that the fall fund drive for WQOM and the Stations of the Cross will take place Wednesday through Friday. He asked listeners to support Catholic radio in the Archdiocese of Boston.
Scot asked Fr. Copp to explain the difference between evangelization and the new evangelization. Fr. Copp said in the Second Vatican Council we find the means of expressing the truths of the faith by means that are better understood by people in the 21st century. New evangelization is about a renewed effort to reach out to those who may have stepped away from the practice of their faith, whether in Boston or in mission countries. In Boston only 17% of Catholics attend Mass on a regular basis. In some mission countries, people walk miles or even days to go to Mass once per month. Here was have a luxury of parishes. In Waltham there are five parishes, in Canton, two.
He said Boston has numerous missionary communities within its border and they remind people of their missionary duty by virtue of their baptism. He said we pay little attention to sharing the faith because we presume we live in an archdiocese where the faith already exists. He challenged people in his parish to bring one person to Mass with them and double the number of people in their church. He also encourages people not to be afraid to talk about their faith. He remembers living at St. Patrick’s in Watertown and hearing from a parishioner how he mentioned going to Mass on a Sunday and how that affected a co-worker who didn’t realize he was Catholic.
Scot has learned that so much of the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies is to ensure that people around the world know that Jesus loves them and wants to be with them forever. In Massachusetts, nearly everyone has heard the name of Jesus. So many who have been baptized just know Jesus like he’s a historical figure. They don’t have a relationship with him. The New Evangelization is a reintroduction of people to this Person who wants to change their life on a moment by moment basis. The New Evangelization it the conversion of ourselves. Fr. Chris said part of that is to have a tangible joy in ourselves because the Lord is present in our lives. People should see by the peace and joy that we know Christ and he is present to us.
Scot said many of the people in the missions have next to nothing but yet respond with so much joy and generosity of spirit when brought to a relationship with Christ. Fr. Copp said no one comes to the Church from a vacuum, but almost always come in because someone invited them and shepherded them.
Scot said the “each one reach one” allows us to take to prayer for a week or two the question of whom the Lord is calling me to invite to our parish. It’s one particular person, couple or family. You don’t have to teach them the Catechism. You just have to tell them that you get so much out of the Mass, invite them to come as your guest, and maybe go out for coffee afterward.
Fr. Copp said he met a women last year who said she didn’t know the prayers, but he told her that the missal was changing and everyone would be in the same boat. Scot said you can control whether you’re willing to make an invitation. He tells the Holy Spirit that their response is up to him.
When people say they don’t know the prayers or actions at Mass, he refers to the story of the Prodigal Son. When the son returns the loving father runs out to greet the son. That’s how the Church celebrates and no one is concerned with whether they know the responses. Fr. Copp said parishes do have to be willing to say hello and recognize that someone new is there. Scot noted that a lot of people say they don’t go to church anymore because someone was rude to them in Mass. On our best day, maybe we can be the reason for someone to give the Church a second chance. Fr. Chris and Fr. Copp both said to never let another human being get in the way of your relationship with Jesus Christ.