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 19, 2010

Times to Remember

As the days grow shorter and more of our Advent candles burn low, very often our thoughts turn to time spent with family. Whether it’s remembrances of times past or anticipation of coming gatherings, as Christmas approaches we may find ourselves thinking more of those we love.

So it is in the Mission Office. Never far from our minds are the people of God that we serve: those with less than enough to eat, no access to medical care and most importantly, those who may not know how much Jesus loves them. We also keep the many missionaries who serve them close to our hearts and are strengthened by the many notes and cards that we receive during Advent thanking us (and you!) for help given over the past years. It is a special treat when a missionary visits us to keep us informed of the work being done in the name of the good people of Boston; we were blessed to have such a visitor recently.

Sr. Lisa Valentini, MSC, no stranger to the readers of this blog, had recently returned from a month spent in Haiti working with those whose earthquake related sufferings have been compounded by a cholera epidemic. Not only did Sr. Lisa share her stories with us, she spoke at Holy Family, Amesbury, MA and St. Helen, Norwell, MA at weekend Masses as part of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith’s Missionary Co Operative Program.

The students at St. Patrick School, Stoneham,MA, St. Jeanne D’Arc School in Lowell, MA and St. John the Evangelist Religious Education in Winthrop heard stories of her work at a children’s Nutrition Center turned cholera hospital; though not a nurse, Sister often worked 12-15 hour days caring for patients who would not have made it to a traditional hospital. She spoke of road blocks preventing supplies and doctors from arriving, of having only enough food for children ages 2-12. Thirteen year olds went hungry. Sister asked the students to pray and sacrifice through the Holy Childhood Association so that the little ones of Haiti could get the help they so desperately need and deserve.

At the end of our busy week, I asked Sr. Lisa what she would like you, our readers and donors, to know about her work; what was the single most important thing to tell you?

She said, simply, Tell them not to forget Haiti.”

Amen, Sister. We will not.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Missionaries Bring the World to Boston

Recently I welcomed to our offices in the Pastoral Center in Braintree, MA Abbot Matthew Nguyen Ba Linh, the Superior of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Divine Grace in Vung Tau City, Vietnam. The area occupied by Vung Tau City includes the Mekong Delta, the extreme southern end of the Mekong River, and the area around Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. He was in the Archdiocese to visit with two seminarians from his monastery who are enrolled at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston. He wanted to meet with me in order to request support for his religious community through participation in our Missionary Cooperative Plan for 2011. The Missionary Cooperative Plan brings representatives of various religious communities into the parishes of our Archdiocese so that our parishioners may have the opportunity to support their missionary activities.

Abbot Matthew presented a sort of “happy dilemma” to me. His monastery is bursting at the seams with vocations. He has a community of eighty-five men, and their average age is below forty. It always strikes me that the Church flourishes most in those parts of our world where it has to struggle to live and grow. He is anxious to build bigger facilities including a larger monastery building and a retreat center that will accommodate both men and women. At present, his retreat facilities are available only to men and he told me that women are complaining that they cannot make a retreat there!

Any new construction requires the permission of the Communist government. Abbot Matthew told me that they have already secured this permission. His major obstacle is funding and he is looking to The Society for the Propagation of the Faith for any assistance we can provide. I assured him that we will include his religious community in the Missionary Cooperative Plan for the coming year.

In your prayers, please remember Abbot Matthew and the monks in his community who have to work much harder to practice the faith that we often take for granted.

For more information on the missionaries who bring the world to Boston and become part of our One Family in Mission visit our website at
Rev. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L.

Making a World of Difference Through HCA

Since its founding, the Holy Childhood Association (HCA) has had one focus – to bring Jesus’ love to all the world’s children. We ask members to do this in two ways: prayer and sacrifice. A Hail Mary prayed daily for children everywhere is the first membership requirement; sacrifice is next.

HCA members are asked to give up three things for children who don’t share our blessings: their time, talent and treasure. The treasure is the easiest to explain – our children are quite practical when presented with the facts of life in the missions.

Schools, clinics, feeding programs and clean water all cost money. By sacrificing a soda or a candy bar weekly or buying the medium popcorn at the movies instead of the large one (and giving the difference to the missions) our children make a concrete change in the lives of others.

The concept of offering up time and talent can be a little harder to grasp. HCA asks students to think and act every day according to Jesus’ rules of love and prayerfully offer those actions to help the missions. Perhaps they could hold the lunch room door for their class, knowing that once inside, they may not sit with their friends, there will be less time to eat and maybe, the french fries will be cold! How does it work for the missions? As they act as Jesus would, they say a prayer for children who have no school to attend, no lunch to eat. These sacrificial actions are just as important as any coin put aside.

HCA’s Christmas Artwork Contest is another way members can use their time and talent to focus on the missions. Sponsored by HCA nationally, all Catholic students in grades K-8 in parish religious education programs, Catholic schools or home schools may enter. The Grand Prize winner’s artwork is made into the Christmas card used by Msgr. John Kozar, our National Director. Twenty four finalists will have their artwork displayed during Advent 2011 at the National Basilica in Washington, DC and are guests of honor at a special Mass there. The art is also made into e-greetings on our National Website!
Boston's last winner was Marissa Perotta from St. John the Evangelist Parish in Winthrop, MA.

For more information about HCA’s Artwork Contest, click here.
This Advent, help your child offer up their time and talent for children in the missions: it can make a world of difference!
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Society Membership Vital To Building the Mission Church

For many years, Catholics have followed the custom of enrolling themselves or their loved ones, living or deceased, in Membership in the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. By doing so, they give an ongoing gift to the new Member and to the missions. Membership means that the person enrolled receives the spiritual benefits of Masses said daily by mission priests. Members are also included in the intentions of a daily Mass celebrated at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

In many mission locations, funds from Society Membership are a substantial means of support. One such place is the country of Angola, where there is finally a tenuous peace after 27 years of civil war.

In a recent pastoral letter, the Bishops of Angola said, "We welcome the progress made in these eight years of peace: the lines of communication, in themselves vital to progress, have improved, giving credit to the government and easing the lives of citizens. However, we recognize that further progress is needed. Not only schools, but also the basic health services, should be established in our villages so that every patient, pregnant women included, can receive due attention. Helping the Church rebuild its schools and its health infrastructure is not an extra; it is a way of cooperating in the country's development."

In a very real way, your Membership brings that help to the Missions where it is most needed.

For more information on Spiritual Enrollments and Mass Offerings, click here or please call 617-542-1776 or email [email protected].

The following people have recently been enrolled in Perpetual Membership in the Society:

The Panzavecchia Family; Patrick S. Guilfoy; Betty & Al Lanisky; Bill McPhee; Lucille Crupi; Bernadette Nelson; The Fallon Family; Anna DaLewis Day; Helen & Lewis Day, Sr.; Grace & Gene Gyebet; Brad & Dottie Day; Marilyn A. Lavery; The Mastendion Family; The O’Connell Family; Paul A. Ruggiero; Barbara Stasium; The Drinon Family; The Gaspre Family; Eleanor Meserve; Karen Johnston; Michael & Paula Anderson; Anthony & Elaine DiGiovanni; Peter & Johanna MacIsaac; Bill, Dot & Bob Giarla; Clara Albiani; Gussie Bonzagni; Johanna MacIsaac; Ray Gachignard; Jeremiah W. O’Connor, Jr.; Jeremiah W. O’Connor, III; The Bruzzese Family; The Scali Family; The Mercuri Family; The Balcastro Family; William T. Schmitt; Gayle Williams; Fr. John T. Foley; Cardinal Alphonse Lopez-Trujillo; Antonio Mesquita; Preacher Roe; Luis deMedeiros; Fulgencia Lugira; Ann Sharpe.

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest

Many people are not aware that there are four Pontifical Mission Societies. Of course, the most familiar is the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The Society of Saint Peter Apostle, though less well known, is charged with equally vital work by the Holy Father: that of helping to educate local clergy in the Missions.

The Society of Saint Peter Apostle had its origins in 1889 in France. Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard, who were mother and daughter, responded to a request made by the French bishop of Nagasaki, Japan. He was desperately in need of money to keep his seminary open in order to be able to provide training for native Japanese priests. Like the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of Saint Peter Apostle started with just a small group of dedicated laity and now counts among its supporters people on every continent. Today there are some 30,000 seminarians studying in 400 major seminaries all over the world. Support through the Society of Saint Peter Apostle ensures that these young men may continue to answer the call to serve as priests. In addition, close to 10,000 novices in religious communities of both men and women receive assistance.

The seminarians singing and dancing in the video clip below attend Christ the King Seminary in Nyeri, Kenya. They are supported directly by sacrifices made to the Society of St. Peter Apostle.

It is good for us to recall that, for the first hundred years of our existence as a diocese, the Catholics in Boston were living in “missionary territory.” We benefited from assistance provided by the Pontifical Mission Societies in Europe, among them the Society of Saint Peter Apostle. Since the Church in Boston has “come into its own,” we have shown time and time again that we remember our own humble beginnings and are eager to help Catholic communities throughout the world flourish and grow into maturity.

As an act of thanksgiving for the dedicated priests and religious who serve in parishes and various other ministries in the Archdiocese of Boston, I invite you during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season to consider a gift to the Society of Saint Peter Apostle through our website. God will never be outdone in generosity to those who enable priests and religious to go out and spread the Good News to the farthest corners of our world.
Rev. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stories Told, Lessons Learned

Whenever I speak about mission work done for children because of the Holy Childhood Association, I start by telling students a story. Recently, the Religious Education students at Holy Family Parish in Duxbury, MA heard a story about some average, ordinary people (we’ve come to know them as Jesus’ Apostles) who were busy trying to live their normal lives when they met a Man who changed everything.

After their encounters, they left their homes to follow their new Friend, eager to hear His every word and be a witness to His every action. He sent them off to faraway places to share the message of God’s love with everyone they encountered. In doing so, Jesus asked them to give up their comfortable homes, their way of life, and even their family and friends to embrace perfect strangers, bringing them closer to God.

They became missionaries.

I gave the students homework – isn’t it awful? Homework – from a guest speaker! Go home, I told them, and with your parents, go online and find Jerusalem on the map; then find Rome. That’s where St. Peter ended up! Can anyone locate Turkey (then called Asia Minor)? St. Paul went there. Next, look for India. St. Thomas went all the way to India to preach the Good News! They took Jesus’ last words to “Go to the ends of the earth and preach my gospel…” very seriously!

Sometimes, the students are surprised that God is still calling people to this work; average, ordinary people are still listening to Him when He says “GO!” These missionaries need our prayers and sacrifices.

Through the Holy Childhood Association, our children are empowered to take responsibility for their part in this vital work. They come to understand that without their help, children in Zambia may not eat, little ones in Ecuador may have no health care and their counterparts in Haiti may not go to school.

That last part can sound fun for our kids. No school - what do they do? Go to the beach or have play dates? When I explain that many of the children work, even at the age of 5 or 6 or that sometimes they spend their days scavenging the garbage for food for their families, suddenly the shine of that idea wears off.

When the story is told, our children learn important lessons. Sometimes, they only need a little homework!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reflections on World Mission Sunday 2010

On October 24, 2010, the Archdiocese of Boston, together with every archdiocese and diocese in the world, celebrated World Mission Sunday. On that day, we honor countless priests, sisters, brothers, deacons, and lay people who take to heart the command of Jesus to “go forth and teach all nations.” We were fortunate to have Cardinal Sean as the celebrant of the liturgy. He was joined by fifteen priests from the Archdiocese and from various missionary congregations.

We also welcomed a veteran missionary Bishop, The Most Reverend Donald Pelletier, MS, a LaSalette Father who has worked in Madagascar for over fifty years.

Representing the Eastern Catholic Churches was Reverend Georges El-Khalil, PhD, the Maronite pastor of Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon Parish in Jamaica Plain, MA. Our celebration of the Eucharist at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston brought people of various ethnic backgrounds together to pray as one community of faith. Readings were proclaimed in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. Music was provided by the Korean Catholic Community Choir of Boston, The Cape Verdean Choir from Saint Edith Stein Parish in Brockton, and the choir from Saint Peter Lithuanian Parish in South Boston. The General Intercessions were read in Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Lithuanian, Portuguese and English, representing the universality of our faith.

We are grateful to the ninth and tenth grade religious education students from Saint Charles Borromeo Parish in Waltham, MA where I serve as pastor. They provided wonderful assistance to the staff of our office in setting up the Cathedral High School gymnasium, handing out programs in the church, and working as servers at the reception following the Mass.

In his homily, Cardinal Sean reminded us that, for the first one hundred years of our history as an Archdiocese, Boston was considered “missionary territory.” He told us that Bishop Benedict Fenwick, the second bishop of Boston, had written numerous letters to Archbishop Cheverus, the Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux, to thank the Catholics of France for their support of the fledgling Church in Boston. Archbishop Cheverus had been the first bishop of Boston and knew well the needs of the Church here.
World Mission Sunday in the Archdiocese of Boston was truly a celebration of God’s goodness and generosity, enabling us to reflect on the gift of our own faith, and prompting us to share it with others in whatever way God invites us to do so.

Rev. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

World Mission Sunday – All Are Welcome!

Say “missions” today and most think of Africa and Asia, of faraway places where the poor hear the “Good News” of Jesus and experience the Lord’s great love through the work and witness of missionaries.

But just over a century ago, the “missions” were right here at home, and missionaries from Europe proclaimed the Gospel and served the poor on our shores, all motivated by the command of Jesus to “go, make disciples of all nations.”

One of these missionaries was a young French Bishop, Charles Forbin Janson. Upon his return from his trip to America and Canada, he decided to make a difference by involving the school children of France in praying and sacrificing for other children who had yet to hear the Good news of Jesus proclaimed. This movement became the Holy Childhood Association, the “younger sibling” of the Propagation of the Faith and is now present in every diocese in the world, including of course, our own.

Every week, our “One Family in Mission” grows – this week saw the students from Our Lady Queen of Saints Home School program become members. Eager to embrace the idea that we are all called to be missionaries no matter our age or station in life, these children are excited to also share in our yearly “Family Reunion”: the celebration of World Mission Sunday.

On October 24, 2010 at 2 PM at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Cardinal Sean O’Malley will celebrate the Eucharist as missionaries, cultural groups, school children, donors to the missions and Catholics from across the Archdiocese gather to unite ourselves in prayer for the spread of the Gospel. Mass will be followed by a reception in the Cathedral High School gymnasium.

At the reception, missionaries will be at every table to share their own stories with those in attendance; ethnic choirs will entertain us with music from their own countries and light refreshments will be served.

Please consider this post your personal invitation to attend. We hope that every reader will join us on this very special day, when every Catholic Church in the world celebrates what makes us truly Catholic – the call to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth!

For more information on World Mission Sunday, please visit our website at To RSVP, call 617-542-1776 or email [email protected].

Peace and Justice in the Name of Christ

We recently welcomed Father Michael Montoya, MJ to our offices in Braintree, MA. Father Michael is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a religious community of priests and brothers founded in the Philippines in 2002. Their charism or gift is best expressed in the words of their own constitutions—to be called and inspired by the mission and humanity of Jesus, who calls us to “make disciples of all nations.” The Missionaries of Jesus minister in the Philippines, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, and in the United States. They educate seminarians who will become missionary priests and work to train lay people as catechists and lay (pastoral) leaders in order to equip them to bring the message of the Gospel to those who might otherwise never hear it, or who may see a priest only occasionally.

Furthermore, their ministry is not confined solely to bringing spiritual values to bear on the everyday lives of the people to whom they are sent, but rather embraces the material needs of the people given into their care. The Missionaries of Jesus fund and operate literacy programs, provide scholarships for deserving and poor students, make available health care for aging and sick missionary priests, in addition to providing health care services for the people who live in their mission outposts. The members of the Missionaries of Jesus seek to raise the “mission awareness” of everyone in the Church and to remind us that, by baptism, everyone is called to live and proclaim Gospel truths and values. This is beautifully summarized in a prayer found on their website:

Look upon us, Jesus. Give us the patience to sit down and marvel at your wonders—alive, yet hidden, in cultures and beliefs other than our own. Grant us the grace to discover you in the midst of our busy lives. Instill in us the patience of a woodcarver in carefully removing the things that hide your face. Shape us into more devoted missionaries eager to make you, and not ourselves, known. Mold us so that we become worthy friends and disciples.

Please continue to pray for Father Michael and for all those courageous men and women, both religious and lay, who labor heroically to bring the Good News of Christ to far away places. For more information on the missionary activity of our Church, please visit our website at

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 [email protected] .
-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 The web address of the Diocese of Quilon is

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, . You’ll find his videos there, reflecting on his parish life and his message to donors here in the U.S.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Thursday, August 5, 2010

St. Peter's CCD in Plymouth, MA: Praying to be Saints Who Serve

For many students, summer means relaxation, fun and most importantly, a break from the classroom. For those who belong to the Religious Education Program at St. Peter’s Parish in Plymouth, it now means the opportunity to gather with their classmates and learn more about their faith.

Every day, Director of Religious Ed. Kathy Liolios made sure that students not only learned the basics of their faith, but also took an extra step in their formation. A “theme” word was chosen. Each day, a different grade was responsible for a prayer service that focused on that word.

On June 28th, the word was service. The seventh grade stood before their peers, asking God to give them the grace to serve Him and others. Kathy asked for examples of those who served others. Most agreed that the word that best described a person like that was “saint”. When asked to describe a saint, their responses were what one might expect: holy people, Apostles, people very different from us.

Kathy smiled, knowing what was next and introduced me, the speaker for the day.

The students and I talked about the saints, especially the Apostles and who they really were. These were average, ordinary people who had jobs and families. What set these people apart was that they came to believe in their hearts that Jesus Christ was the Son of God in human form. Then I asked the students this: “Who here believes that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth and took on human form?” All hands went up.

Oh, so you DO have something in common with saints!

We spent the rest of the morning talking about how to become more like saints – how to pray and sacrifice for other children through their membership in the Holy Childhood Association, how to ask God for the grace to do His will, and most importantly, how to use the word of the day: service.

Before we parted, the students and I made a "prayer" craft together: our own version of Fulton Sheen's World Mission Rosary. We centered a small wooden cross on a black string and added five colored beads on each side of the cross -- one for each color that represents a different part of the world on this special Rosary. Green represents the grasslands and forests of Africa, red is for the fire of the faith brought to North and South America by missionaries. White stands for Europe, the seat of the Holy Father. Blue helps us picture the island countires in the Pacific Ocean that the Church calls Oceania and yellow is for the sunrise over the east in Asia. When we finished stringing our beads, we had a full decade of the rosary -- the cross for the Our Father and 10 beads for the Hail Marys.
Of course, we said those prayers for the people in those parts of the world and the missionaries who serve them as we added the beads! We asked God for the grace to serve Him as His missionaries so that one day, we could be counted among His saints.

Perhaps one day, our stories will be told along with those of the other average, ordinary people with whom we just may have something in common!

We welcome the opportunity to bring the message of service to others through prayer and sacrifice for the missionary work of the Church to your parish or school; please contact [email protected] or call Maureen at 617-779-3871 to hear more about how your children can pray to find the saint within.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fulton Sheen : Faithful Witness

Last week I was pleased to read the Pilot article authored by Dr. Dwight Duncan concerning the proposed canonization of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. His reputation for interacting with popes and presidents was widespread and well-deserved. What many people do not know, however, is that he was often at his best when exercising the “common touch” of relating to ordinary working men and women. He had a special affinity for those who were less fortunate or struggling with crushing personal problems that challenged their faith.

The Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith remembers Archbishop Sheen with particular affection because he served as our National Director for sixteen years. During that time, not only was he a champion for the missionary work of the Church from his post in the National Office in New York, he made numerous personal trips to mission territories in order to observe firsthand the work supported by the Society.

The Boston office of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith is planning to arrange at least one screening of the film Servant of All on Archbishops Sheen’s life later on this year. In the meantime, I encourage you to pray for his canonization by reciting daily the following prayer:

Heavenly Father, source of all holiness, You raise up within the Church in every age men and women who serve with heroic love and dedication. You have blessed Your Church through the life and ministry of Your faithful servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He has written and spoken well of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and was a true instrument of the Holy Spirit in touching the hearts of countless people. If it be according to Your Will, for the honor and glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the salvation of souls, we ask You to move the Church to proclaim him a saint. We ask this prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

For more information on Fulton Sheen, click here to visit the Propagation of the Faith’s page on the World Mission Rosary. Started by Archbishop Sheen in 1951, the World Mission Rosary is a simple yet effective way to “embrace the world in prayer.” Our website also includes a link to the Sheen Foundation.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Faith-filled Education is the Key

On a recent visit to the Propagation office, Fr. Patrick McGillicuddy, C.Ss.R. shared details of his work in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Fr. Pat has worked for many years with what he terms ‘the throw-aways’ of society – prostitutes, drug addicts and troubled young adults. He told us the work at his center, named for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, is not easy to promote because of the people who he serves. “There are no adorable children or cuddly elderly people to put on a poster,” he says. “These are people that society considers trouble; most of us would rather look away.”

Fr. Pat does not avert his gaze. Instead, he has welcomed all in faith; people find shelter, food, drug rehabilitation if they need it and, most importantly, education.

On this subject, he does not mince words. He tells us that many of the young people who come to him from the streets actually have the equivalent of a high school diploma. When they are tested for proficiency, however, they are found to be reading and writing at about a second grade level. They have been passed from grade to grade just to keep them moving through the system. Fr. Pat calls this “a disaster”.

Catholic schools in Brazil are not an option for these young people – they cannot afford the tuition. And so, they are left on the margins of their community to eke out a living any way they can unless they are blessed to have Fr. Pat enter their lives.

Because of support that he has received through the Propagation of the Faith in parishes across the Archdiocese of Boston, Fr. Pat offers people a new way of life. He invites them to learn about themselves, teaches them life skills and introduces them to the key: faith in Jesus. “We never force it on anyone, of course,” Father says with his slight Irish lilt. “But they all end up asking to be baptized – every one of them.”

After listening to Fr. Pat, in his own words (above) please say a prayer of thanksgiving for your own education that allows you to read this; add a prayer for those that Fr. Pat serves – the “least of our brothers and sisters.”
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Struggle for the Faith Continues

Last week I had the privilege of welcoming to our offices the Most Reverend Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, the Archbishop of Kampala , Uganda. Archbishop Cyprian was here for the celebration of the Feast of the Ugandan Martyrs that took place in Saint Mary Parish in Waltham, MA on June 20th.

There is a large Ugandan community in the Boston area; they are people of strong and vibrant faith. It is clearly a faith born from years of persecution endured in their country. As is the case so often in the Missions, the Catholic faith flourishes when it struggles just to survive.

It has been said that “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The story of the Ugandan Martyrs is inextricably connected to the establishment of the Christian faith in Africa, both by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

On June 3, 1886, these new believers were martyred by being thrown into fire pits. Even in the midst of terrible suffering they maintained their allegiance to their Christian faith. In all, fifty-five young men who were pages in the court of King Mwanga sacrificed their lives for their faith in Jesus Christ: twenty-two were Catholic, twenty-three were Anglican.

One of the martyrs, St. Kizito, was about fifteen years old when his life was taken. He and his companions were beatified by Pope Benedict XV in 1920 and raised to sainthood by Pope Paul VI in 1964. Archbishop Cyprian told me that this young man was a distant relative of his; that they were both from the same tribe.

As I prepare this column, the news reports are yet again filled with stories of terrorist action in Kampala. Although one objective of these acts is to send a political message to the people and government of Uganda, there is also another: hatred and persecution of Christians. As you look at the video (above) of Archbishop Cyprian, please pray for him and for the people of his country who still suffer for the faith that has been nourished by the blood of the Martyrs of Uganda.

To read Archbishop Cyprian's statement on the recent violence in Kampala, go to .

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Beginning

I write to you as the new Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in the Archdiocese of Boston. As the new Director, I am busy getting up to speed with the work of all our Pontifical Mission Societies. These include not only the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, but the Society of Saint Peter Apostle, the Holy Childhood Association, and the Missionary Cooperative of Priests and Religious. As I write this post, I am sitting at the desk formerly occupied by a young Father Richard J. Cushing who was responsible for putting the Archdiocese of Boston “on the map” in terms of support for the foreign missionary activity of the Church.

Cardinal Cushing’s indomitable spirit and his love for the missions flourish even today, some forty-plus years since his death. Boston is still in the forefront of the dioceses in the United States in supporting the work of missionaries throughout the world. Our own Society of Saint James the Apostle continues wonderful work in Latin America, and other missionaries carry the Gospel to the farthest corners of the world, sometimes at great personal risk and sacrifice.

Occupying a place of honor in my Pastoral Center office are the sacred vessels that once belonged to Father Jim Hennessy, a Boston priest who served in the Solomon Islands during World War II. His chalice, paten, ciborium, pyx and burse are eloquent reminders to us and to those who visit our offices of the serious commitment for which our missionaries lived and often died. Before Father Hennessy was captured by the Japanese, he buried these prized personal possessions to protect them from desecration; he hoped to return to claim them when the war was over. Sadly, that was not to be the case. Father Hennessy died a martyr’s death because he truly believed that the work of the missions is the holiest work we accomplish as a Church.

I look forward to meeting many of you in person as I visit your parishes in the months and years ahead. And I look forward to your continued generous support for the great work of bringing the message of the Gospel to those who would otherwise never hear it.

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Baptismal Call to Mission

The Mission Cooperative Appeal Weekend for the Propagation of the Faith at St. Mary of the Hills Parish in Milton made us witnesses to something beautiful: a Baptism! While the people in the pews heard the message that we are called to be missionaries by virtue of the grace received at our Baptism, the parish received a new member AND MISSIONARY into their fold.

It was the perfect teachable moment. At the 10:15 Mass, Fr. Arthur Wright, pastor at St. Mary’s, claimed Jackson Thomas for Jesus and welcomed him into the Catholic family. At that same moment, the grace of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the tiny baby, giving him all the rights and responsibilities of every Catholic – that of living a faith filled-life, according to the teachings of Jesus.

The questions asked at baptism (technically of the baby himself, but answered by his parents and godparents) are those of our Creed. By saying “yes”, Jackson Thomas promised to do what Jesus asks of us all, every day of our lives: to live honestly, kindly, lovingly, in charity and to make him known to all.

To some of us, that idea seems very remote. It’s “others” who God calls to go overseas, cross borders and give up their lives, their culture, and their language to spread the Gospel to the over 1 billion people who have yet to hear it.

In our minds, “real” missionaries are people like Sr. Rosy Malayatty, a Salesian Sister of Don Bosco at the Home of Hope in India. Sister works in the slums of Bangalore Province in orphanages for street girls. In the high city of Hyderabad, police are “sweeping” beggar children off the street. Since they are homeless outcasts of society, they have nowhere to go. The Sisters take them in and care for them, giving them a safe place to lay their heads at night, a daily meal, an education and, most importantly, the knowledge that Jesus loves them.

The truth is, we are all God’s “real” missionaries, not because we are Sisters in an order or priests, or have joined a mission group. We are missionaries because, like Jackson Thomas, we are baptized.

It is our personal call to take Jesus to the world wherever we find ourselves.
- Maureen Crowley Heil

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Rich Mission History

Here in the Archdiocese of Boston, we have been blessed by the work of many Mission-minded people. From the founding of Maryknoll by Fr. James Anthony Walsh to the beginnings of the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle by Richard Cardinal Cushing, the Mission Office in Boston has been the “Hub of the World” for missionaries for over 100 years.

Msgr. Bill Glynn and Msgr. Andrew Connell followed in some large footsteps and made their own marks on the Propagation of the Faith office, promoting the holiest work of the Church in parishes and schools across the Archdiocese.

Most recently, we have been led by Fr. Tom Kopp, who now moves on to continue serving as Rector of St. Anselm’s in Sudbury. In just three years in the office, Fr. Kopp oversaw many changes, most dramatically the move to our new, beautiful home at the Pastoral Center in Braintree. Our website – – was launched under his direction, bringing the missions alive online and embracing Pope Benedict XVI’s call for the use of new media to promote the work of the Church. During his tenure as our leader, he travelled to Ecuador as part of a 50 person delegation representing the United States for CAM3, the Pan-American Mission Congress, and met in Lima Peru with the members of the St. James Society.

We wish Fr. Tom Kopp Godspeed, knowing that he will carry his great heart for the Missions wherever he goes.

We extend a hearty welcome to our new Director, Fr. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L. Fr. Copp will remain pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Waltham in addition to his new role as the Director for all four Pontifical Mission Societies as of June 14. “I am honored by the confidence that Cardinal Sean is showing in me to serve in this important position,” said Fr. Copp. “It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of Fr. Tom Kopp, who has done so much good in this area, and to be able to work closely with our missions in places such as Latin America, Asia, Africa and elsewhere.”

As one chapter enters the history books here in Boston, another begins. We pray that this one will be as fruitful for the Missions as all the others before them have been!