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.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Witness to Their Walking

On June 3, 2011, I found myself at Namugongo, the National Shrine to the Ugandan Martyrs, with over a million pilgrims to celebrate the martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions. It was no accident; my trip to Africa was timed so that I could be present at this holy place. The Shrine is built in the style of a traditional African hut, honoring the culture of the martyrs. The relics inside bear witness to their great faith. In the center of the Shrine under the main altar, which is the exact spot of Charles Lwanga’s heroism, hangs a portion of his ashes. Charles and his companions were burned alive because they refused to renounce their Christian faith and pledge allegiance to the king.

Besides the obvious sacrifice, what made this story fascinating to me is that these Martyrs were really boys at the time – most of them in their teens – as they were bound and paraded to their death. With their parents calling to them to renounce their faith, taught to them by missionaries, these boys prayed aloud and even sang as they were tortured, while their killers lit the pyre that would be their fate. To this day, people walk, some of them literally across Africa, to be at the Shrine for the Martyrs’ Feast Day, honoring the Martyrs’ own march. My faith has long called me to be a witness to their walking.

These days, there is still much walking being done in Africa, this time to escape another horror. Famine has become the great torture of the people, forcing them to flee Somalia in great numbers towards refugee camps in Kenya. Our National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, Fr. Andrew Small, OMI received word from his Kenyan counterpart, Fr. Celestine Bundi, that the situation in the camps is desperate; Fr. Celestine is asking for help for the many local priests and sisters serving in the affected areas.

Photo courtesy of CNS

We, of course, have promised our prayers and would like to promise yours as well. If you are able to contribute to a special fund that has been set up by our National Office to send aid directly to Fr. Celestine to be used for relief in the camps of Kenya, please mail your contribution to:

East Africa Special Appeal
Pontifical Mission Societies
66 Brooks Drive
Braintree, MA 02184

To contribute online, go to our website, and click the Donate Now button.

Please join us as a witness to their walking.

-Mauren Crowley Heil

Society Membership Communicates the Faith

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 member and the missions. Membership means the person enrolled receives the spiritual benefits of Masses said daily by mission priests; they are also included in the intentions of a daily Mass celebrated at the Vatican.

In many mission locations, funds from Society Memberships are a substantial means of support. One such place is Tena, Ecuador. Part of the Vicariate of Napo, Tena is home to the only means of regular catechism for many Catholics in the area – a radio station. Every day, the faithful listen to everything from religious music to the Mass itself. For many, it is the only Mass they can attend due to the long distances between parishes. Your support, in a direct way, brings the Faith to thousands.

For more information on Society Membership, please call 617-542-1776 or email [email protected].

The following people have been enrolled as Perpetual Members in
The Society for the Propagation of the Faith:

Jacqueline, Paul, Katherine &Vincent Russell; The Louis E. Amberg III Family; Helen & Roland Beauregard; Glenn McCann; Shawn Markey; Josette & Vincent Doherty; Priscilla DeLong; Patty, Brian, Alexa & Ashley Richard; Peggy & Ken Deminski; Terry & Paul Richard; Sean Brooks; Norma Zimmer;
Andreas Makris; Rev. Aloysius Blonigen, C.M.M.; Sgt. Raymond Plouhar; Milena Mora Del Valle; The Petrozzelli Family; The Spears Family; The Gallagher Family; Sr. Mary Esther Owens, OP; JohnT.Bowers, M.D.; Helen F. McDonald; Archbishop Pietro Sambi; Carol Elizabeth Plumer; Eric & Cathleen Adams &Family; The Leo J. Dunn Family; Jason T. Pool; Ellen & Dino Canesi; Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr.; James Kilpatrick; John J. Amaral; Bill Millin; Kenny McKinley ; Hershel Alpert; Dodge Morgan; Julio Andrade; Duke Snider; Bobby Thomson; George V. Bell; Dorothy V. Doane Alderson; The Zeller Family; Michael J. Hurley; Pauline P. Orford; Brother Norbert Hasenmuller, O.S.I.; Eldon Auker; Tracy Zeller ; Rev. Richard DeVoe, M.M.; Raymond, Donald, Roy, Jean & Jeanette Durand; Bishop Gabriel Montalvo; William G. Bastedo; Phyllis Letendre; The McCoy Family; The George W. Bell Family; Helen D. Igo; Cecile Powell; Elaine M. Freeman; Michael & Laura Bradley; Mary Lou, Herve and Brian DesRosiers; Joan E. Staford; Barbara, Robert & George Waters.


The Archdiocese of Boston has been blessed over the years of its existence to be the “springboard” for the foundation of several missionary communities. One of those missionary communities is the Sons of Mary located in Framingham, Massachusetts. Fifty-nine years ago, Father Edward Garesché, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, founded the Sons here in Boston and placed them under the patronage of Our Lady, Health of the Sick.

Since their foundation in 1952, the Sons have been dedicated to missionary work among the poorest of the poor. Their work has taken them from the mountains of Peru to the jungles of Venezuela to the inner city streets of Manila. The community is made up of both Brothers and Priests, many of whom have degrees in social work and health care. According to their website, Father Garesché sought out “young men of strength, constancy and sacrificial spirit who love God and His Blessed mother and are zealous for the healing of bodies and souls to such an extent that they will forget themselves and work with untiring devotion.” (

In 1984 the Sons opened a new mission in the Philippines that has focused in large part on “street children,” estimated to be in the neighborhood of fifty thousand kids. In 1989 they opened the Pangarap Shelter in Pasay, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Manila. Pangarap, the Tagalog word for “hopeful dream”, has ministered to the social, educational, legal, psychological, spiritual, recreational, and medical needs of these children and has provided a safe haven for these “street kids” who otherwise would have been left to their own devices for survival in a dangerous and predatory environment.

This year, parishioners in Immaculate Conception Parish in Everett, Saint Rita Parish in Lowell, Saint Mary Parish in Randolph, and Saint Theresa Parish in Sherborn will welcome a representative from the Sons of Mary as their parish participation in the Mission Cooperative Program of our office. Father Garesché envisioned that his religious community would be “a blessing for the whole world.” This indeed has been the case. Thank God for the witness and ministry of this dedicated group of Priests and Brothers who labor to address the spiritual and physical needs of those to whom they are sent.

For more information on the missionary work of the Church, please visit our website:

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

“You Are Most Welcome!”

For me, the month of June was spent visiting Pontifical Mission Society projects in Africa. I found myself in the mountains and flatlands of Uganda and the plateaus and valleys of Zambia. This one phrase –“You are most welcome!” - was the constant. Whether I was entering a house for the first time or returning to a convent serving as my “home base”, I was made to feel like a member of the family.

And indeed, I am.

As a member of the Catholic Church, wherever I went, my brothers and sisters in Christ happily greeted me. Whether it was at a National Shrine (Namugongo, Uganda – the site of the martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions) for the Martyr’s Feast Day with 1 million of my newly found family members or at a small parish outstation (St. John the Baptist in Chingala, Chipata Diocese, Zambia) celebrating Mass for the Harvest (Masika) with the 100 or so faithful that gave up a day’s labor in the bush because a priest would come for Mass, I was warmly embraced as a sister.

Crowd at Namugongo, the Ugandan Martyr's Shrine on June 3, 2011, estimated at over 1 million

Small Faith Community at St. John the Baptist Outstation in Chingala, Zambia

Catholics in Africa are very aware of their faith heritage: they all know the Pontifical Mission Societies. To the people I met, our One Family in Mission means they have received the gifts of spirituality, sacraments and social ministry. Each has become an integral part of their daily lives through The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, The Holy Childhood Association, The Society of St. Peter Apostle or The Missionary Union. Our Mission Society members also appreciate the opportunity to pray for others to join our Catholic family worldwide and therefore, understand they are giving as they receive.
Over the course of the next few months, the stories I write in this column will take you on a journey of faith through eastern Africa. You will read about schools built, children learning, parishes worshipping, clinics healing and the Word of God being proclaimed.

Know in advance that no matter where these tales take you, You are Most Welcome.

-Maureen Crowley Heil

God in the Marketplace

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting with Father Herbert Jones, O.Carm. and his staff when I preached at Saint Therese Chapel in the NorthShore Mall in Peabody. Once again, my work as Director of The Society for the Propagation of the Faith brought me back to “home territory.” During my high school years I served Mass for the Carmelite Fathers every afternoon and worked for a time in the Gift Shop that they operate in the NorthShore Mall. Although I answered the call to serve God as a diocesan priest and not as a Carmelite, I credit the Carmelite Fathers and Brothers with having a strong influence on my priestly vocation. Throughout the years I have maintained close contact with many members of the Order who had a great effect on me and my decision to become a priest.

The Carmelites have staffed the Chapel since Cardinal Cushing invited them to establish this innovative ministry in 1959. The Chapel opened in 1960 and since then they have provided devoted ministry to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. This is the only place in the area where one can easily find priests available for confession at any time, attend one of three daily Masses, and patronize a wonderful gift shop to find that last-minute wedding, first communion, or confirmation gift. Their tireless service to the people of the surrounding communities gives life to the Order’s motto on their shield: With zeal I have been zealous for the Lord of hosts.

Preaching for The Society for the Propagation of the Faith at the Chapel was particularly appropriate, since it is dedicated to Saint Therese of Lisieux, patroness of the foreign missions and the Carmelites of this province have had a long-standing missionary presence in South America. We pray for all missionaries, but especially this week for the dedicated missionaries of the Carmelite Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, as they continue their work of sharing the Good News of Christ in the marketplace.
-Fr. Rodney J. Copp, J.C.L.