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, 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 .