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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pentecost Continues

I write to you, having just returned from Rome, Italy, after participating in a General Assembly of the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies from around the world.

It just so happened that we finished the day before Pentecost which gave us a wonderful backdrop for what we do and why we do it. After all, the Pontifical Mission Societies are a graphic reminder of how we participate in the Pentecost mandate: "Go and teach all nations."

As we gathered for six days at the Salesian Generalate, just outside of Rome, we spent two full days studying and prayerfully reflecting on the charisms of our four founders: Pauline Jaricot (Society for the Propagation of the Faith), Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson (Holy Childhood Association), Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard (Society of St. Peter Apostle), and Father Paolo Manna (Missionary Union). These interesting and provocative sessions served to renew all of us directors in the ministry entrusted to us by our Holy Father and confirmed by the bishops in each of our countries.

Speaking of the Holy Father, we had a wonderful private audience with Pope Benedict XVI. He expressed his gratitude to all of us and the Catholics of our countries for the generosity of support for the mission ad gentes.

We also spent some very serious time relating to the thousands of requests for assistance sent to us from around the mission world. Help for the basic needs of the local churches of the Developing World – in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and remote regions of Latin America – as they work to proclaim the Gospel and make our Lord better known in all places around the world.

Thanks to a splendid staff in Rome and the work of our Secretaries General, our work in reviewing and approving the subsidy help was dramatically simplified. But the challenges confronting us were most evident: trying to maintain our level of assistance to new and young churches, while facing the reality of diminishing levels of donations, especially in the form of legacies, and while factoring in the overall global economic downturn. Some difficult decisions had to be made to fairly and justly respond to the needs of mission ad gentes.

But the best part of our time together was in the interpersonal relating that always takes place. Language is not a problem, as we are blessed with world-class translators and many of us speak other languages besides our own native one. The testimonies of our brothers and sisters from the Developing World offer poignant witness to the Church at her best: serving the poor and needy of the world above all by offering them the hope-filled, life-sustaining message of the Gospel of Jesus. When we hear firsthand of the difference that Jesus makes in the lives of poor around the globe, the significance of our work is elevated. And our celebration of Mass together, in the beautiful St. Peter's in Rome - all of us from around the world - recalled in a most vivid way that first Pentecost.

And each of you is an integral part of our "one family in mission," as we are able to reach out, through your generous prayers and help, to the Church Universal in her mission needs.

Thanks for being such an important part of continuing Pentecost – and thanks for answering every day, in prayer and sacrifice, the call from Baptism to be missionary and part of our "one family in mission"!

Important note: Join us on Thursday, June 3, at 9:45 a.m. online for our live stream presentation of our Archbishop O’Meara Awards, recognizing excellence in reporting on the worldwide mission of the Church in Catholic newspapers and magazines. These awards will be presented during the Catholic Media Convention in New Orleans; for more information visit our website.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Let's Get Together

Meetings. Since this new year began, there have been several fruitful gatherings of colleagues and collaborators.

First, in mid-January, there was the re-opening of the International Center for Missionary Animation (CIAM) in Rome, Italy. Dedicated to Blessed Father Paolo Manna, PIME, founder of the Missionary Union, one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies, the center is to be a place to form and to nurture the missionary spirit that motivates the support directed at the Church's worldwide missionary efforts. Our international secretary general of the Missionary Union, Father Vito Del Prete, PIME, led the prayers in the restored chapel at CIAM. My predecessor as national director, the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, was a major benefactor of CIAM. In fact, his statue stands at the main entrance. How privileged to continue his legacy in missionary animation - particularly through the media, with our "Mission Lessons" radio messages and our newest audio documentary on Archbishop Sheen.

Two months later, in mid-March, more than 20 nations in North America and South America were represented during a weeklong meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Orlando, Florida. Discussed were plans for the Fourth American Missionary Congress, as well as other matters related to mission animation and cooperation. We also offered solidarity to the people of Haiti and personally demonstrated our support to Father Clarck de la Cruz, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in that suffering country, who joined us for the meeting. How wonderful to be with brother and sister national directors in this "one family in mission," as well as with Father Timothy Lehane, SVD, international secretary general of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from Rome - all of us gathered to encourage the missionary spirit in the Americas, so that the Church's mission to all nations might be better served.

Finally, just last week, directors and staff from diocesan offices of the Pontifical Mission Societies came together in Chicago for our annual meeting - or what I like to call our "family reunion." Through the wonder of technology, those who couldn't be physically present with us April 27 to 29 were there "virtually," as we live streamed the presentations. You may watch archived video of our meeting by visiting our live stream site. You can learn more about our presenters at that meeting at our national meeting website; they included Father Mario Rodrigues, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan. Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa (top photo below), who represents world mission on the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, was with us, spiritual mentor of our family. We even had a "visit" during our meeting from Rome - as we contacted Father Lehane in Rome via Skype; he attended the rest of the meeting from there, sending us a message of his prayerful solidarity - and his applause - from across the ocean.

With us in person was the international secretary general of the Society of St. Peter Apostle, Monsignor Jan Dumon (center photo above), who offered appreciation for the work of inspiring contributions to this society for the formation of local priests, as well as Religious Sisters and Brothers. My gratitude to our Chicago mission office, led by Sister Madge Karecki, SSJ-TOSF (photo right), our local hosts. How wonderful to gather as "one family in mission," sharing and praying together so as to better serve our brothers and sisters in the Missions.

Meetings - graced moments to join minds and grateful hearts in support of bringing the "Good News" of Jesus to all peoples, in all times.