The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerful missionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Mission for Our Mission

As you read this, I will have just returned from Rome, Italy, where, with other national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies, we spoke of getting financial help to the local churches most in need in the Missions. But we also returned home with a "mission" for our mission work.

This is the second such meeting that we national directors, including those from mission countries, have had. Our first meeting, in the spring, involves all national directors. During that gathering, we distributed the help provided by Catholics throughout the world to the local churches of Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and remote regions of Latin America. More than $90 million in assistance, for example, was sent from donations to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. About $7 million of that went to catechists in Africa -- lay men and women who bring the "Good News" of Jesus to the poor and the suffering, who teach others about our faith.

Additional help was sent from contributions to the Society of St. Peter Apostle to support young men preparing for the priesthood in seminaries throughout the Developing World and young men and women in formation as Religious Brothers and Sisters. Major seminaries received some $15.5 million in help. In the area of vocations in the Missions, there was much hope-filled news. At present, more than 30,000 young men are studying at mission major seminaries.

Last year, there were 2,397 priestly ordinations, with more than half of those in Africa.

We also, at that spring meeting, focused on providing for the needs of children in the Missions through the Holy Childhood Association. More than $22 million in help was offered, with the majority of that assistance going to the Church's service to the children of Africa.

You may recall one of my first blog reports, where I related the visit of our New York Pontifical Mission Societies director, Sister Pauline Chirchirillo, PBVM, to Zambia in Africa. There she saw many of the projects that the contributions of young people in our own country and worldwide to the Holy Childhood Association make possible -- like mother and child centers, and homes for children who have been abandoned or abused, where local Religious Sisters reach out with the loving tenderness of our Lord.

During this fall meeting of a smaller group of national directors, representing the various continents of the world, we distributed more such help, through these societies. But we national directors came away from that meeting convinced that we -- and those who work with us in diocesan offices in our countries -- must work even harder to make our mission known. I hope that you'll click on the links in this blog and read more about the great work accomplished -- with your help -- through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Holy Childhood Association. I hope you'll read too about the Missionary Union, the fourth Pontifical Mission Society, that is concerned with education and formation, and not fundraising.

Just a few hours on the ground, and I feel satisfied that I've started this mission for our mission works -- the task of making better known what we accomplish together as "one family in mission" so that our brothers and sisters throughout the Developing World may come to know about Jesus and His hope, love and peace.

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