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.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ut Cognoscant Te: That They May Know You

After six years as Archdiocesan Director of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith I will be returning to full-time parish ministry at Saint Gerard Majella Parish in Canton as of July 1. Since Cardinal Cushing’s coat of arms hangs on my office wall and since I work at his desk,   I thought that his episcopal motto would make a fitting title for my final column. Indeed, these words express the primary goal of all missionary activity—to know God and respond to a personal invitation to a covenant relationship with Christ.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to many people. First and foremost, to Cardinal Seán for appointing me to this office and giving me the opportunity to experience the work of ministry and evangelization from     an international perspective. To the countless missionary bishops, priests, deacons, religious men and women, and lay missionaries who have met with me in person or communicated their stories in writing, a sincere word of appreciation. 

I am indebted to my brother priests in the Archdiocese for their support, particularly in the implementation of the Missionary Cooperative Program. The pastors of our parishes are a vital link between our office and the people in the pews. Those who use our enrollments and Mass cards help us to provide significant financial support to priests in mission countries.

Our office staff in Braintree is not only extraordinarily competent but totally dedicated to their contribution to the work of missionary outreach.  I am especially grateful to Maureen Crowley Heil, the Director of Programs and Development, for the vast experience, dedication, and background she brings to her work. Likewise, to Stephanie Yovchev, Mary Bolles, Grace Luk, Janice Pecoraro, Mike Pecoraro and Sister Agnes Wan. 

And finally to you, our faithful supporters and readers—those who contribute regularly and who remember us in your wills and in your prayers—blessings on you and your loved ones.  May Mary, Queen of the Missions, draw you ever closer to her Divine Son.

-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Monday, January 13, 2014

América Misionera Comparte Tu Fe!

It was recently my great privilege to represent the Catholic Church of the United States at CAM4 – the Congresso Americano Misionero in Maracaibo, Venezuela.  This Congress, held every five years, brings together Catholics from every country in the Americas, from Canada to Chile.  It is hosted by the Pontifical Mission Societies, which is present in every country and diocese in the world. Our theme this year was “American Missionaries, Share Your Faith!” During the week long Congress, we were called on to shout it out over and over. “América Misionera: comparte tu fe!” became our greeting, our cheer and our prayer.

As you can imagine, the logistics of bringing together over 3000 delegates, housing them, feeding them and translating talks into multiple languages are immense. It began at the tiny Maracaibo airport, making sure that everyone’s name was on their delegation’s list.  As luck would have it (or not have it!) mine was left off. As a non-Spanish speaker, I did my best to convince the CAM4 representative that I was indeed a delegate needing a ride, not just an accidental tourist in Maracaibo. He kept pointing to the list, however. My name was not there. It was then that I realized I had the perfect calling card – I took out my World Mission Rosary and held it up as proof of my Mission Societies identity. His eyes lit up! My ride to the credential site was secured.
We arrived at the Collegio Santa Rita, a local high school, where scores of volunteers in bright green shirts descended on us, took my bags and escorted me to an English speaker who would issue my Congress credentials and make sure I had a bottle of water and a snack.  I would soon see this army of young volunteers everywhere I went! Eager to help with anything at a moment’s notice they showed the vibrancy of the mission Church, young and full of life. One in particular that day stood out to me because of her story.

RoseAngel (right) with her fellow Voluntarios
RoseAngel is attending college and studying French and English. She hopes to be a translator, perhaps working her country’s diplomatic corps so she can see the world. I asked her why she would take a week out of her life to volunteer for the Mission Congress, thinking perhaps it was to practice her language skills. Her answer thrilled me.

“I’m a missionary,” said RoseAngel.  “I’ve always been taught that my baptism makes me a missionary. How could I miss this opportunity to share my faith?”

How indeed!
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christ, Still In Search Of Shelter

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting in our offices with Bishop Chibly Langlois, the Bishop of the diocese of Les Cayes in Haiti and the President of the Haitian Episcopal Conference.  We spoke at length about the continuing challenges of disaster relief in his country and the important role played by the Church in preserving the work of ongoing evangelization in the midst of utter chaos.  Even in these difficult circumstances the Church endeavors to keep alive a spirit of hope.

With our conversation fresh in my mind, I was struck by the Christmas message of the Bishops of Haiti.  They address the apparent hopelessness of the situation while trying at the same time to maintain perspective and a clear identity of their people with the celebration of the birth of Christ. 

The socio-political drama of many countries, including our own, is similar in many respects to that of Jesus’ country. The tragic destiny of our people is marked by great situations of suffering and conflict that have a heavy impact on the lives of all Haitians and the entire nation, making our life as a people increasingly difficult.  The Child was the victim of threats and exclusion. Mary and Joseph fled with him to Egypt. Like him, many Haitian families continue to flee facing the sea, risking their lives by crossing the border, suffering humiliation, rejection, exclusion and the denial of their fundamental rights. In their travel abroad in search of a better life they find abuse, degradation, xenophobia and even death.

Finally, while still acknowledging the discouragement their people face every day, the bishops reiterate the sentiments expressed by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.  In the midst of these struggles, the joy of the Gospel fills the heart and life of those who encounter Jesus.  As you and I live out these late Advent days and prepare to celebrate Christmas, may we remember the joy of our encounter with Christ and be mindful of those who, like Christ, still search for shelter.

For more information about the Church’s missionary activity please visit our website
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Spreading the Good News Through Art

Annually, our National Pontifical Mission Societies office sponsors a Christmas Artwork contest for students in Catholic schools, parish Religious Education programs, and Catholic Home School programs in grades K-8.  Under the auspices of the Missionary Childhood Association, the contest invites students to share their God-given artistic talents to proclaim the Good News of Jesus’ birth.  Every year, more than 10,000 children enter; only 24 winners are chosen from across the United States.

Last year, it was my privilege to escort the TWO winners from Boston and one of each of their parents to the awards celebration and Mass at the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, where their artwork was on display for all of Advent!
Jacinta and Dominic with Boston's MCA Coordinator Maureen Heil
Dominic Udoakang from the Cathedral School in Boston and Jacinta Karanja from St. Patrick School in Lowell, then both fourth graders, were awarded plaques with copies of their drawings by Msgr. Robert Fuhrman, Assistant National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.  We then attended a beautiful Mass in the Basilica’s Crypt Chapel for all the winners who came from all over the United States. Their artwork was also made into e-greetings on our national website ( so that children around the world could send their friends and family online mission-themed Christmas greetings.  In addition, Dominic’s and Jacinta’s beautiful drawings were made into Christmas cards here in Boston and used as our own office’s Christmas greetings to schools, parishes and benefactors.

This year, children in the Archdiocese once again have the opportunity to enter this contest.  Rules and entry forms have been sent to every Catholic School and parish but children can enter individually as well. Simply click here to download the rules and entry form. All artwork is to be sent directly to our National Office in New York by January 31, 2014 to be considered for this year’s contest.
Good luck to all our young missionary artists!
 -Maureen Crowley Heil

The Many Dimensions of Mission

As I write this post on December 3rd the Church in her liturgy is celebrating the feast of Saint Francis Xavier.  Francis and Saint Therese of Lisieux are regarded as the patrons of missionaries and the task of evangelization.  Considered together these two saints represent two very different approaches to spreading the Gospel message.  Nevertheless, both were blessed with a true missionary heart.  Both have something to teach us about ways of sharing the Good News.

Therese was born into humble circumstances; Francis into a noble Spanish family.  Therese never left her Carmelite convent in France.  Even so, she made a profound contribution to the missionary activity of the Church of her day because of her prayerful support.  Francis, in contrast, was called to help Saint Ignatius of Loyola to found a new religious community—the Society of Jesus—and to carry the Gospel message to the far corners of the known world. 

The lives of both saints inspire us to work at integrating these two dimensions of missionary activity, the contemplative and the active, into our own lives.  We are charged by our baptism with the work of sharing the Gospel.  Whether we do that by outreach in our own parish and community, by participating as foreign missionaries, or by prayerful and financial support is an individual decision.  What matters most is our acceptance of Christ’s challenge to spread the Good News in whatever way God asks us to do so.  The prayer for today’s feast sums it up.

Lord God,
by the preaching of St. Francis Xavier
you brought many nations to yourself.
Give his zeal for the faith to all who believe in you,
that your Church may rejoice in continued growth
throughout the world.
May this prayer fill us with the same love
that inspired Francis Xavier to work for the salvation of all.
Help us to live our Christian calling
and to inherit the promise of eternal life.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

To learn more about the missionary activity of the Church, see our website
- Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Give the Gift of Hope to the Missions

As Catholics, our faith tells us that Advent is a season of preparation. It’s a time to begin anew, to ready ourselves for the presence of the Christ Child in our hearts. Our society, however, pulls us in another direction and we find ourselves faced with the same question each year as Christmas approaches: what new gift ideas can we think of for all the “hard to please” people on our lists?

At The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, we believe there is a better, more faith filled way to share happiness as we celebrate the real meaning of Christmas: we can give the gift of hope to those who live in mission countries in our loved ones’ names.

This year, please consider making an offering for our Christmas Enrollment cards or Mass Cards.  Both are a great way to tell your friends, family, and the world that you love them and your Catholic faith.

Our Enrollment Cards, for an offering of $5, provide a yearlong membership in The Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Members receive the spiritual benefits of being remembered in 15,000 Masses said every year by mission priests and a daily Mass said at the Vatican. By choosing to support the missions this Christmas, your gift helps untold numbers of people.

The offerings collected from our individual Mass Cards are sent to priests in the missions who depend on these donations for their daily support – they receive no salary for their ministry.  The suggested offering for the Mass cards is $10.

Most obviously, our Enrollment and Mass Cards benefit the intentions of the recipient. Your gift also makes it possible for the Good News of Jesus Christ to be spread in faraway places like Ecuador.

Tucked into the coastal city of Manta is the Centro Medico La Paz – The Peace Medical Center – run by Sisters Marcia and Piedad.  Through their clinic, the Sisters, both nurses, are able to provide low cost medical and dental treatment to the local people who work in the tuna canning factories for poor wages.  This work is made possible because of generous Catholics around the world who reach out through their faith to others.

To order your Christmas Mass and Enrollment cards and give the gift of hope to the missions, go to our website, and click on the Mass Offering/Enrollment drop down box under the Propagation of the Faith for a form, call 617-542-1776, or email us at [email protected]
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Heralds of the Gospel

Many people are surprised to learn that there are four Pontifical Mission Societies that are my responsibility as Archdiocesan Director.  Most Catholics in Boston recognize the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.  Many remember being members of the Holy Childhood Association (now Missionary Childhood Association) as students in parochial schools or religious education programs. 

Less familiar is the Society of Saint Peter Apostle.  This Pontifical Mission Society had its beginnings in nineteenth century France.  In 1889, a mother and daughter — Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard — answered a desperate plea for help from the Missions. The French missionary bishop of Nagasaki, Japan wrote to the two women asking for help to keep his seminary open because he had run out of the funds necessary to help educate these young men to serve their people as priests. The bishop just did not have the funds to train these young Japanese men whom, he judged, would make excellent priests. The Bigards came to his assistance and started a small group for this purpose in their native Caen, France. From these humble beginnings emerged the Society of St. Peter Apostle. Within five years of sending their first donation to Japan, the Bigards, and those whom they enlisted to help, were sending funds to seminaries in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Korea and China. The goal of the Society of St. Peter then and now has been to invite individuals to support the education of candidates for the Catholic priesthood in the Developing World and to support the formation of men and women candidates for the Religious life in the Missions. In its first year, the Society of St. Peter Apostle sent help for some 2,700 seminarians in the Missions. Today, some 30,000 major seminarians, mostly in Africa and Asia, receive an annual subsidy of $700 per student.

Every year, during the Thanksgiving season, I write to the priests of the Archdiocese asking them to support the work of the Society of Saint Peter Apostle in thanksgiving to God for their own priestly vocations.  They respond with characteristic generosity.  If you would like to join them in supporting the Society, please forward your gift to us at 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, MA 02184.  For more information about our work, please visit
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL