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.

Friday, August 19, 2011

“You Are Most Welcome!”

For me, the month of June was spent visiting Pontifical Mission Society projects in Africa. I found myself in the mountains and flatlands of Uganda and the plateaus and valleys of Zambia. This one phrase –“You are most welcome!” - was the constant. Whether I was entering a house for the first time or returning to a convent serving as my “home base”, I was made to feel like a member of the family.

And indeed, I am.

As a member of the Catholic Church, wherever I went, my brothers and sisters in Christ happily greeted me. Whether it was at a National Shrine (Namugongo, Uganda – the site of the martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions) for the Martyr’s Feast Day with 1 million of my newly found family members or at a small parish outstation (St. John the Baptist in Chingala, Chipata Diocese, Zambia) celebrating Mass for the Harvest (Masika) with the 100 or so faithful that gave up a day’s labor in the bush because a priest would come for Mass, I was warmly embraced as a sister.

Crowd at Namugongo, the Ugandan Martyr's Shrine on June 3, 2011, estimated at over 1 million

Small Faith Community at St. John the Baptist Outstation in Chingala, Zambia

Catholics in Africa are very aware of their faith heritage: they all know the Pontifical Mission Societies. To the people I met, our One Family in Mission means they have received the gifts of spirituality, sacraments and social ministry. Each has become an integral part of their daily lives through The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, The Holy Childhood Association, The Society of St. Peter Apostle or The Missionary Union. Our Mission Society members also appreciate the opportunity to pray for others to join our Catholic family worldwide and therefore, understand they are giving as they receive.
Over the course of the next few months, the stories I write in this column will take you on a journey of faith through eastern Africa. You will read about schools built, children learning, parishes worshipping, clinics healing and the Word of God being proclaimed.

Know in advance that no matter where these tales take you, You are Most Welcome.

-Maureen Crowley Heil

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