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.

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!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Mission Memorial Day

Last weekend, Memorial Day, we paused to honor the men and women who have given their lives in service of our country. There are many monuments and tributes to them spread across the Archdiocese of Boston. As part of the Propagation of the Faith’s Missionary Co Operative program, I had the opportunity to visit one that weekend that may be lesser known than most.

My visit took me to the parishes of St. John the Baptist in Essex, MA and Sacred Heart in Manchester by the Sea, MA; I was shown wonderful hospitality by the parishioners and their pastor, Fr. Jack Gentleman.

In sharing the mission message with all in attendance at the parishes, I related it to the sacrifice of those who came before us in faith and history. Where would we be if Fr. Cheverus (later the first Bishop of Boston) had not received prayerful and financial support from the Church of France and Quebec in 1803 when the “Territory of Boston” covered all of New England? Fr. Cheverus and his co-worker, Fr. Matignon travelled the area to plant the seeds of faith that have blossomed into the parishes of the Archdiocese as we know them.

The missionaries who will travel across our area this summer are asking for your support so that they may follow in the footsteps of Fr. Cheverus within their own “territories”: their mission Dioceses. They are inspired by our story of the established Church of the world reaching out a helping hand to their brothers and sisters in Christ as they strive to grow the faith.

At the Mission Office, we feel blessed to know that these priests, Religious men and women, and lay missionaries and their messages will be received with the same Boston welcome that I felt last weekend in Essex and Manchester.

And that lesser known memorial? How fitting to the missions that it is the main stain glass window in Sacred Heart Church, dedicated in memory of all who served our country in World War I. Under the glorious image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an inscription central to the spread of the Gospel: “And it shall be to me a name and a joy and a praise and a gladness before all the nations of the earth” (Jer. 33:9).

-Maureen Crowley Heil