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.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Journey for a New Year

Happy New Year! While the world welcomed another year, I did as well - with our mission family in Asia.

On New Year's Eve, I left the United States and headed first to Sri Lanka, for a brief stop, and then, for some two weeks, to India. (In fact, I write this as I am making my way back home.)

In India, there were many Masses celebrated, including one with 16 newly ordained priests, and another for six Sisters who were each celebrating 50 years of Religious life. How wonderful to see the joy of these young priests and Sisters. Each is filled with great love for our Lord, and a desire to share that love - and the "Good News" of the Gospel - with the poor of their homeland.

I spent time at the Divine Retreat Center in Muringoor in south India. It is the largest such center in the world. Some 5,000 people journey here each week, with weekly visitors topping 15,000 at times. In addition to giving retreats in six languages, this Center is also home to some 400 physically and mentally challenged adults, as well as more than 100 persons suffering from HIV / AIDS. My time there blended a spirit of loving service and of deep faith.

I found a spirit of joy at a center for street children, also in southern India. Some 150 young people live there. The Sisters lovingly care for these children. There is truly a "family" feeling all around. The Vincentian Fathers run the center. They told me that their greatest desire is to "keep the children smiling by giving them the experience of God’s tremendous love." It's definitely working. During my visit, there were smiles in abundance.

Throughout the journey in this new year, there was much joy in my own heart as well, knowing that your prayers and generosity sustain and support such faith-filled presence in India, and so many other such places throughout the Developing World.

Happy New Year, indeed!