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.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Welcoming the (Missionary) Stranger

Every week our office receives requests for financial support from missionaries all over the world. All of their stories are compelling and it is sometimes difficult to know to whom we should respond given the limitations on the way we are allowed to directly distribute funds. The two principal ways in which we are able to provide financial assistance to missionaries are Mass stipends given by our donors and our Missionary Cooperative Program.

In considering these multiple requests we have tried in the last year to pay particular attention to those missionary dioceses and groups that have never been recipients of our generosity. Recently we were contacted by Father Peter Loro Bambu, a priest of the Archdiocese of Juba. His story is one of the most compelling I have encountered because he ministers in Southern Sudan, a country that has long been torn by civil war. The Archdiocese of Juba numbers within its borders millions of refugees who live in substandard conditions and are served by priests who are as poor as the people they serve. The people look to their priests for everything—food, clothing, money, and educational expenses for their children. Although the priests do the best they can, very often they have little that they can give them except for their faith and the consolations of the sacraments.

We hear often in our own country about the “shortage of priests.” Father Peter describes a situation in which one parish is made up of as many as 103 “chapels” or outstations—comprising an area roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island—and served by two priests who travel to these chapels the best way they can, very often by bicycle or motorcycle. Father Peter says that he was accustomed to navigating the Nile River by canoe to get from place to place in his last parish assignment.

This year we welcome Father Peter and many other missionaries to Boston to participate in the Missionary Cooperative Program. We are confident that the people of our parishes will be as generous to these servants of the Gospel as they have been to past missionary visitors. As we launch this year’s Missionary Cooperative Program, we thank God for your generosity and pray for His generosity to you in return.

-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

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