The Mission Hub


The Pontifical Mission Societies include the Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St.Peter Apostle, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary 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.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

St. Bonaventure Parish: Welcome to Our One Family in Mission

In June, I had the privilege of representing the Propagation of the Faith speaking at all the Masses at St. Bonaventure Parish in Manomet, MA. The parishioners heard about our “One Family in Mission” and the work done in the name of all baptized Catholics by the four Pontifical Mission Societies. By explaining all four Societies in brief, it brought me to the story of a missionary that I believe embodies our work best.

Fr. Tom Hagan, OSFS runs a group called Hands Together in Haiti; I visited him there in 2003 and marveled at the work that he accomplishes. I shared the stories from my trip with the people of St. Bonaventure – how I was up at 5 every morning for Mass and Morning Prayer in English and Creole, helping in a Feeding Center for children. We would move on to a Wound Care Clinic where I helped to stitch and clean wounds of the homeless of Port-au-Prince. Next was the HIV/AIDS hospital – most patients received palliative care only. My job was to massage their aching bodies and help them find some relief from chronic pain. Since my Creole was basic at best, I found that singing to them was the best way of communicating. Soon the patients and I were taking turns, singing to each other!

After one of the Masses in Manomet, I was approached by someone wanting to learn more about our children’s mission society, the Holy Childhood Association. Rachel Patnaude, DRE for the parish, was intrigued by the idea that her students could make a difference through their faith for children around the world.

We agreed that I would come to speak to all three summer sessions (and the fall session too!) about HCA; the students were excited to learn that because they were baptized, they were missionaries!

They promised to pray and sacrifice every day for the rest of the summer for children around the world that don’t share in our spiritual and material blessings. By summer’s end, countless Hail Marys were said daily and over $500 was sacrificed.

Our One Family in Mission is blessed by the membership of parishioners both young and old at St. Bonaventure.

For more information on how to enroll your children as members of the Holy Childhood Association, please call me at 617-779-3871 or email mheil@propfaithboston.org .
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Boston's Mission Office and the St. James Society: Partners in Mission

Each week several newsletters, magazines, and letters from various missionary groups arrive in our offices at the Pastoral Center. This week I received the most recent newsletter from the Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle, founded by our own beloved Cardinal Cushing over fifty years ago.

The focus of this newsletter was the Parish of Jesucristo, Pan de Vida (Jesus Christ, Bread of Life) located in the town of San Francisco outside Guayaquil, Ecuador. The present pastor of the parish is Father Patrick “PJ” Hughes, a priest of the Society of Saint James who hails from the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois in Ireland. Because of the leadership and dedication of Father PJ and his predecessor, Father Frank Jones, the parish now boasts a four room schoolhouse, a beautiful parish church and rectory. Some of you may remember Father “PJ” as the priest who preached a Mission Appeal for the Society in Saint Clement Parish, Somerville and Saint Mary Parish in Brookline.

As I looked over the statistics for First Holy Communion and Confirmation, it appears that the parish of Jesucristo, Pan de Vida could well be the envy of many pastors in the Archdiocese of Boston. Their First Communion class for 2009 numbered one hundred and nineteen students! I was impressed by the curriculum they followed and share with you Father PJ’s own words from his blog:

They prepared for First Holy Communion over the period of a year by attending a class each Saturday morning which lasted for two hours. They were supported by their parents and were also expected to attend Mass each weekend where they would learn more about their faith and the mystery of what they were preparing to receive.



Their Confirmation program is similarly impressive. When I saw the pictures in the newsletter, and those on Father’s blog, I e-mailed him and asked his permission to share a couple of them in my column this week. He sent back an enthusiastic “yes” and so I am happy to share photos of both celebrations with you.
Every year, the St. James Society depends upon the generosity of our donors through our parish Missionary Cooperative program. We are proud to support this great Boston-based missionary effort.

To learn more about the Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle, please visit our website's Propagation of the Faith page.
Rev. Rodney Copp, J.C.L.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

HCA Members: No Summer Break From Sacrifice!

During the summer, school children take a break from the usual routine of reading, writing and arithmetic; Holy Childhood Association members, however, never slack off! There is always a way to be thinking of and praying for other children in the missions who are not as materially and spiritually blessed as we are.

A perfect example of this is the students at Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Plymouth, MA. Members of the Holy Childhood Association since 2008, the children in the religious education program have prayed and offered sacrifices for their brothers and sisters in Christ in so many ways.

This summer, through the leadership of their DRE, Joyce Hokanson, these HCA members reached out to their mission counterparts, while helping one of their own to grow in his own faith formation. Alex Heil, a new relatively parishioner (and an HCA member since he was born into it in 1992!) was about to make a mission trip to the rural village of El Factor in the Dominican Republic. While there, Alex and his team of teens would be helping to run Vacation Bible Camps for children, teaching songs, making crafts and, most importantly, letting the children know that because Jesus loves them, the teens do too.

As part of their commitment to the missions, the Blessed Kateri students swung into action and collected fifty pounds of school supplies for the children of El Factor; there were glue sticks, markers, crayons, colored paper, rulers, and pencils – everything necessary to make glorious God-centered crafts.


And what creations they made! As Alex and his team visited different parishes, the children were very happy as mosaics were made, glitter was glued to paper and a great time was had by all. They loved the attention of the visit, the gifts of all the craft supplies, but mostly, it touched them all to understand that hundreds of miles away in a place called Plymouth, Massachusetts, children were praying for them.

As a new school year begins, we pray that ALL children may come to feel the happiness that Alex, his team, the children of El Factor and the Holy Childhood Association members at Blessed Kateri experience every day because they know that Jesus loves them.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Missionary Spirit Means “Paying it Forward”

Last week, I was visited in our offices by two bishops from India, Bishop Francis Antonisamy from the Diocese of Kumbakonam and Bishop Stanley Roman from the Diocese of Quilon. The missionary bishops who visit us are thoughtful and generous and always bring gifts to us. Bishop Antonisamy brought me a beautiful gold shawl. Bishop Roman brought some almonds that were grown in his country—a strong symbol of the fruits of the labors of his people. These gifts are their way of expressing friendship and esteem for the person they are visiting. In fact, if you check out Cardinal Sean’s blog this week, you will see a picture of him with Bishop Antonisamy. The Cardinal is wearing a shawl similar to the one the bishop brought to me. I was honored to be the beneficiary of their kindness.

The civil government in India makes it difficult for young Christian men and women to obtain an education. Catholics are just five percent of the local population—a clear minority. Your generosity to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith enables the bishops to pay tuition expenses for a few students each year. The hope is that, once these young men and women are educated and have good jobs, they will be able to help others do the same. It is this kind of “paying it forward” that allows the Church to grow and to allow Gospel values to influence their communities.

To add to the challenges, most of the priests in these dioceses serve in widespread and remote areas and among people who are struggling to survive financially. Neither the diocese nor its local parish communities can adequately support them. The provision of medical care and insurance is another responsibility that devolves solely on the local bishop. The Mass stipends sent to these missionary priests from our office in Boston provide significant support to them as they live and preach the Gospel message.

If you would like to know more about the Diocese of Kumbakonam you may check it out on the web at http://www.dioceseofkumbakonam.org/. The web address of the Diocese of Quilon is http://www.quilondiocese.org/.

Fr. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fr. Deo’s Mission of Gratitude

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of a visit from Fr. Deogratias Ekisa from the Archdiocese of Tororo, Uganda. Father was in Boston to speak on behalf of his Archdiocese at St. Patrick Parish in Roxbury as part of the Propagation’s Missionary Co Operative Program.

He spoke of his own parish life in Uganda, sharing the details of the differences and the similarities to parish life here in the Boston area.

Fr. Deo’s parish is considered a small one – there are 4000 members spread over 12 different locations – a main church and 11 mission stations, some of which are up to twenty miles apart. He serves them “as best he can”, he said, travelling between them on a motor scooter. Every Saturday, he spends the day at an outstation; on Sunday after 8 AM Sunday Mass in the main church, he heads to another. By splitting his time in this way, he makes it to every outstation about once every two or three months.

When he is not able to be at a particular place, a catechist gathers the parishioners in a small church, a classroom, or in some cases, under a tree for a Scripture lesson and a Communion Service.
Because his visits are infrequent, Fr. Deo takes care of all the sacramental needs of his people at once – he told us of a single Mass in which he had 100 First Communions, 60 Baptisms and a wedding!

Fr. Deo is grateful to have help from the Propagation of the Faith in the building of the small churches at his outstations; though tiny by our standards (some only 25 by 50 ft.), they allow hundreds of people to worship in a sanctified space. One of the locations now has a clinic and a growing school, all made possible by the generosity and prayers of our donors.

The message that Fr. Deo preached in Roxbury, however, was also one of similarities. The people of Tororo are “just like you”, he said, “trying to follow Jesus, living a normal life with the difficulties…and all the joys of life.”

To hear Fr. Deo, go to our channel, www.youtube.com/propfaithboston . You’ll find his videos there, reflecting on his parish life and his message to donors here in the U.S.
-Maureen Crowley Heil