‘Hearts on fire, eyes opened, ...’ - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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“Hearts on fire, eyes opened, and feet on the move,” Pope Francis writes about the disciples at Emmaus (art by Jesus Mafa, Cameroon / Vanderbilt Divinity Library).


We can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, carry out his mission in the world.
— Pope Francis, Message for World Mission Day 2023

Rick Dixon gives out drinking water at Casa Betania in Mexicali, Mexico. During July’s heat wave, a migrant succumbed to heat stroke and lost his life just a few blocks away.

Dear friends,

Living and working at the border in El Paso, Texas, I have seen great love and compassion shared by Maryknoll lay missioners and others who welcome the stranger. Your gifts make it possible to keep families safe, to help children learn and laugh, and to help those who have risked their lives to keep hope alive in their hearts.

But, like Rick Dixon, a Maryknoll lay missioner serving at the U.S.–Mexico border in Mexicali, Mexico, I have also seen violence, injustice and despair. I have heard stories that brought tears to my eyes. Rick serves migrants in need of food, safety, and a listening heart. He assists children of migrants who have been traumatized by hardship and violence.

And so I was heartened by Pope Francis’ message for World Mission Sunday (Oct. 22), in which he relates the story of the disciples on the way to Emmaus from the Gospel of Luke (24:13-35).

They, too, felt despair. They almost lost hope. But when Jesus drew near and walked with them, they found the courage they needed to continue on their way!

We, too, must summon courage in the face of fear, show kindness in the presence of cruelty, and seek peace in a climate of violence. We must continue to walk with children around the world who are reaching out their hands for us to hold and guide them. Will you please make a gift today, for World Mission Month?

The pope’s theme this year, taken from the Emmaus story, is “Hearts on fire, feet on the move.” A more timely or pertinent connection to our mission I could hardly have asked for!

I hope you will seek it out and read it in its entirety here. For now, let me share with you two sections that particularly spoke to me:

Just as the two disciples of Emmaus told the others what had taken place along the way, so too our proclamation will be a joyful telling of Christ the Lord … and the wonders that his love has accomplished in our lives …

Let us set out again with burning hearts, with our eyes open and our feet in motion. Let us set out to make other hearts burn with the word of God, to open the eyes of others to Jesus in the Eucharist, and to invite everyone to walk together on the path of peace …

Our hearts are on fire. God has lit this spark within each of us. He has called us to serve! The hearts of Maryknoll lay missioners, like Rick, burn with compassion as they live out the call to mission!

Our eyes are open to the suffering and struggles of marginalized people in communities around the world, and we cannot look away.

And our feet are on the move. Everywhere our lay missioners serve, we walk joyfully with children, families and communities, and help them journey from violence to nonviolence.

Together, we are all on a mission, called by God to accompany and serve God’s children. Thank you for walking with us.

In hope and shared purpose,
Elvira Ramirez
Executive Director

P.S. Please make your gift for World Mission Month now by clicking on the button below.

And if we may pray for you and for those you love, please add your prayer intentions here as well. Thank you!

Elvira Ramirez
Elvira Ramirez is Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ executive director.