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.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

In Harmony Small Things Grow

On December 3rd, the Church celebrated the feast of Saint Francis Xavier.  Francis, along with St. Therese of Lisieux, was declared the patron saint of the foreign missions by Pope St. Pius X in 1904.  Unlike St. Therese, who never left her Carmelite monastery, Francis was called to bring the Gospel to the farthest reaches of the known world of his day.  He, together with St. Ignatius Loyola and a small group of followers, founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.

Francis’ life was a story of complete trust in the providence of God.  Ordained with St. Ignatius in 1537, he was missioned to India in 1541.  At that time he was also named papal nuncio, the Holy Father’s official representative, to the East Indies.  He became the first Jesuit to enter Japan as a missionary in 1549.  There he faced the challenges of learning the Japanese language and adapting the customs of Christian faith to the Buddhist and Shinto traditions of the Japanese people.

Francis’ final missionary journey was supposed to bring him to China.  Unfortunately, he was never to realize his goal.  He became ill and died on the island of Sancian near the coast of China on December 3, 1552.  He, along with Ignatius, was canonized by Pope St. Pius X in 1622, the ultimate result of the Church’s acceptance of eighteen miracles attributed to him.

Francis’ legacy lives on in manifold ways.  Here in the Archdiocese we celebrate his legacy at Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Weymouth.  And, although we think of the Society of Jesus as having a primarily educational ministry at Boston College and Boston College High School, Francis’ Jesuit brothers have retained their missionary charism by bringing the Gospel to Jamaica, Iraq, Jordan, Brazil, Tanzania, Japan, Indonesia and other far-flung locations.  And his sons, the Xaverian missionaries, labor in the foreign missions as well as providing spiritual support to the people of the Archdiocese of Boston at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine and Mission Center in Holliston, St. John’s Prep in Danvers, and Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood.  The life and ministry of Francis Xavier, although brief, aptly illustrates the motto of the Xaverian community, In Harmony Small Things Grow.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

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