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 30, 2012

The First of Many Great Days for MCA

After Hurricane Sandy tried her best to blow us off course, the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) held its First Annual Mission Education Day on December 5.  Adult Moderators and Student Representatives from Catholic Schools and parish Religious Education programs gathered for a day of learning about and praying for the world missions of the Church.

Although the day was initially scheduled for October, the month set aside in the Church to reflect on the missions, there seemed to be a certain synergy with the Advent season as we spent the day reflecting on the over one billion people who are still awaiting the proclamation of the Good News.  Most importantly, we learned about the many ways we could all – even the youngest of us – take action to change that number.
After lighting our Advent wreath’s candle, led in prayer by Fr. Rodney Copp, our Archdiocesan Pontifical Mission Societies Director, attendees heard from Fr. Rocco Puopolo, SX. Fr. Rocco spoke to our students about the same message he taught while in Sierra Leone, West Africa: Never underestimate the power of the Spirit working in you!
Fr. Rocco explained that through MCA, students around the world – even in Sierra Leone – are able to make a difference in the lives of others through their prayers and sacrifices.  He recalled that at the height of the civil war in that country, children sacrificed $100 for MCA, sending it as our students do to the General Fund in Rome, so that other children in the missions may come to know how much God loves them.
At our morning Liturgy, Cardinal Seán O’Malley urged the students to continue on this important path of learning more about the missions and living their missionary vocation.  He then blessed their mission crosses and commissioned them to be the Mission Representatives to their schools and parishes.
After lunch, each group created a craft based on the World Mission Rosary to use as a centerpiece for the missions at their school or parish.  The “Our Father” bead of each decade was made of a collage of pictures from the missions.  The young crafters were encouraged to see the true faces of the missions – these were no models posing for ads.  These were real people in need of our prayers and support.
 Our day ended with Sr. Lisa Valentini, MSC.  Sr. Lisa shared moving pictures of her time in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.  Through song and story, she emphasized that everyone in the room is called to make a difference in the world - if you are baptized, you’re a missionary!
As Cardinal Seán said in his homily, this was the first of many great days like this! We hope you can join us next fall for our Mission Education Day 2013.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Good News Proclaimed Through Art

Every year, 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.

Recently, 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 is on display for all of Advent!
Dominic Udoakang from the Cathedral School in Boston and Jacinta Karanja from St. Patrick School in Lowell, both fourth graders, were awarded plaques with copies of their drawings by Msgr. Robert Furhman, Assistant National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.   
Their artwork was also made into e-greetings on our national website ( so that children around the world can send their friends and family online mission-themed Christmas greetings.  In addition, Dominic’s and Jacinta’s beautiful drawings was made into Christmas cards here in Boston and used as our own office’s Christmas greetings to schools, parishes and benefactors.
Both Dominic and Jacinta represented Boston admirably in Washington DC: they are bright, polite, and attentive children who are a credit to their families, their schools and their Archdiocese.  What made their awards particularly moving for all of us was the mission connection. Dominic’s family is from Nigeria and Jacinta’s is from Kenya. Both parents were quick to admit that were it not for the work of Catholic missionaries in their home countries, they would not have received a quality education themselves.
As we admired the children’s work, an older couple looked over our shoulders and congratulated Dominic and Jacinta. They happened to be touring the Shrine that day and asked what the art exhibit was about.  When we related the whole story, including the winners’ family origins, the couple’s eyes welled up and they smiled. They explained that they were from Finland but had spent two years of their lives in Kenya as missionaries, teaching children.
And so, there we stood, young and old, African, European, American connected by the Good News…and the missions.
To enter this year’s Artwork Contest by January 31, 2013, go to, click on the Missionary Childhood section and go to the artwork page.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

In Harmony Small Things Grow

On December 3rd, the Church celebrated the feast of Saint Francis Xavier.  Francis, along with St. Therese of Lisieux, was declared the patron saint of the foreign missions by Pope St. Pius X in 1904.  Unlike St. Therese, who never left her Carmelite monastery, Francis was called to bring the Gospel to the farthest reaches of the known world of his day.  He, together with St. Ignatius Loyola and a small group of followers, founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.

Francis’ life was a story of complete trust in the providence of God.  Ordained with St. Ignatius in 1537, he was missioned to India in 1541.  At that time he was also named papal nuncio, the Holy Father’s official representative, to the East Indies.  He became the first Jesuit to enter Japan as a missionary in 1549.  There he faced the challenges of learning the Japanese language and adapting the customs of Christian faith to the Buddhist and Shinto traditions of the Japanese people.

Francis’ final missionary journey was supposed to bring him to China.  Unfortunately, he was never to realize his goal.  He became ill and died on the island of Sancian near the coast of China on December 3, 1552.  He, along with Ignatius, was canonized by Pope St. Pius X in 1622, the ultimate result of the Church’s acceptance of eighteen miracles attributed to him.

Francis’ legacy lives on in manifold ways.  Here in the Archdiocese we celebrate his legacy at Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Weymouth.  And, although we think of the Society of Jesus as having a primarily educational ministry at Boston College and Boston College High School, Francis’ Jesuit brothers have retained their missionary charism by bringing the Gospel to Jamaica, Iraq, Jordan, Brazil, Tanzania, Japan, Indonesia and other far-flung locations.  And his sons, the Xaverian missionaries, labor in the foreign missions as well as providing spiritual support to the people of the Archdiocese of Boston at Our Lady of Fatima Shrine and Mission Center in Holliston, St. John’s Prep in Danvers, and Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood.  The life and ministry of Francis Xavier, although brief, aptly illustrates the motto of the Xaverian community, In Harmony Small Things Grow.
-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 ideas can we come up with for all those 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 bring happiness to our loved ones as we celebrate the real meaning of Christmas: we can give the gift of hope to those who live in mission countries.
This year, please consider making an offering for our Christmas Mass and Enrollment cards.  Both are a great way to tell your friends, family, and the world that you love them and your Catholic faith. 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. 
Our Enrollment cards 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. Most obviously, our Mass and Enrollment cards benefit the intentions of the recipient. Your gift also makes it possible for the Good News of Jesus Christ to be spread in places like the new country of South Sudan.
After many years of civil war in the Sudan, a tenuous peace has been achieved as the country has divided.  Catholics are determined to live their faith, no matter the difficulties.  In the Archdiocese of Juba, one parish community cannot return to their church – the grounds are littered with unexploded land mines.  They will celebrate Christmas in an old cotton factory with only two brick walls, the others are made of thatch.  But celebrate they will!  Their Young Adult leadership meets weekly to prepare for the holidays and beyond – faith formation of their youth is a priority.  Though they have no classrooms per se, they meet under trees, sitting on the old spools from the cotton factory to listen to the Good News.  

To order your Christmas Mass and Enrollment cards - or any of our other Mass and enrollment cards - and give the gift of hope to the missions, go to our website,, call 617-542-1776, or email us at [email protected]
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Faith Shared is Faith Strengthened

Beginning in October of 2012 and concluding on the Feast of Christ the King 2013 the universal Church is celebrating a Year of Faith.  This year is also tied closely to the mandate to evangelize and, in the Archdiocese of Boston, to The New Evangelization. 

Pope Benedict XVI, in his message for World Youth Day 2013, addresses this connection.  He reminds, not only youth, but every believer, that we are responsible to spread the Good News in whatever way we can.
The Church, in continuing this mission of evangelization, is also counting on you. Dear young people, you are the first missionaries among your contemporaries!
Basic to this concept of mission is what the Holy Father calls “our personal journey of faith.”  Conversion and the acceptance of the Gospel message both begin with the “evangelizers” themselves.  It is our personal relationship with Christ that forms the bond that enables us to share what we have been given in an authentic manner, since we have already made it our own.
What does it mean to be a missionary? Above all, it means being a disciple of Christ. It means listening ever anew to the invitation to follow him and look to him: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29). A disciple is a person attentive to Jesus’ word (cf. Lk10:39), someone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Teacher who has loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Each one of you, therefore, should let yourself be shaped by God’s word every day. This will make you friends of the Lord Jesus and enable you to lead other young people to friendship with him.
Faith shared is indeed faith strengthened.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving, may our faith be first on the list of those gifts for which we are most grateful.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Taking Missionary Steps

One of the many blessings that come my way in this missionary vocation is that of visiting schools and parish Religious Education programs to talk with our Catholic students about how they, too, are called to be missionaries.  Whether it is a Confirmation class or kindergarteners, each visit bring with it new opportunities to help the children go deeper into a personal responsibility for their faith.

Usually, I am on my own for these mission animation sessions; during the month of October I was blessed to have a partner – Fr. Patrick Byrne, SVD - as I traveled around the Archdiocese.  Until recently, Fr. Pat was the International Secretary General at the Vatican for the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA), our children’s mission society.  As such, he visited the missions regularly, making sure that all the sacrifices made by MCA members were being used properly.  As you would imagine, his stories are riveting.
“How many of you had a glass of water this morning?” he asked the children from Duxbury to Chelsea, and Everett to Canton.  Most hands went up.  “And you’re all still alive? No one got sick?” Father marveled.

(This was usually followed by a little laughter and nervous looks exchanged.)

“Thanks be to God! Why is that?” Because the water is good for us…    was the answer he most often received.  Fr. Pat would then tell the students about all the places where their support of MCA made it possible for missionaries to bring clean water to children so that they don’t get sick from drinking contaminated water.  He would tell them that, while it was a great start, there were still about 6000 children who die every single day, while we are going about our business, because they have no choice but to drink the dirty water; they get sick, have no access to medical care, and many die.

There was no more laughter, but the looks were still nervous.
Reading their thoughts, Fr. Pat would say, “But Father, I’m only one little kid! What can I do?”
“You can pray, of course! And sacrifice too!” the children were told.  We gave them World Mission Rosaries and explained the different colors standing for the various parts of the world and handed out their Mite Boxes.  Father reminded them that though they might think their sacrifice isn’t much, when they are all added together, the total makes a difference - they are literally saving lives!

Many of the students sat, with their rosaries and mite boxes next to a bottle of clean water as we spoke, and thanked God for their blessings.  They were taking their first missionary steps!
-Maureen Crowley Heil

From Generation to Generation

One of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of my assignment as Archdiocesan Director is the correspondence sent to our office but directed specifically to me—the personal notes that people take the time to write.  Their life stories are varied and special and I am often struck by the fact that many of these folks are the second or third generation in a family to have special interest in the missions. 

This past week I received a delightful note from one of our loyal supporters who provided me with a look into her own history of involvement in the work of the missions.  Having lost her mother at the age of seven, she was raised by an eighty-four year old great aunt.  It was from this great aunt that “Mary” learned a love for the missionary work of the Church.  She herself is now retired at the age of eighty-four, and wrote to share her story with me.

My aunt was a faithful donor.  Perpetual memberships for our souls were given to branches of our family.  The Lord took my aunt home…at the age of 102.  As a young teacher I wrote a check each month in her name.  Someday when I drive to the Pastoral Center I will drop in to say hello.  I thank the Lord each day for my spiritual heritage.

I look forward to meeting “Mary” in person at our offices in Braintree.  She is a great example of the way spiritual values and priorities are communicated from one generation to another.  Although her mother’s untimely death must have been very difficult, she was fortunate to receive from her great aunt the timeless lessons of devotion and faith that are alive and vibrant in her heart even today.

We are always happy to welcome visitors to our offices at The Society for the Propagation of the Faith.  Simply give us a call at 617.542.1776 to arrange a convenient time for you to visit us.

The following people have been enrolled as Perpetual Members in
The Society for the Propagation of the Faith
Paul & Nancy Perreault, Mr. & Mrs. Gary Ferry, Mary Santagata, Marcia Haggerty Sharr, Dr. Mildred F. Jefferson, John E. Conway, Robert P. Balzarini, Fr. Emil Kapaun, Nellie Gray, Neil Armstrong, Rev. Msgr. John A. Abucewicz, Rose M. Brown, James P. Attridge, Alfred R. Vogel, Henry C. Mazurkiewicz, Rev. John R. Mescall, C.P., Edward E. Stapleton, William & Patricia Simone, Josephine Lemay, Michael A. Stott, Josephine Maade, Joseph A. Tosney, Jr. Edward M. Donnelly, The Family of Joseph & Alice O’Donnell.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Mission Prayers for Those in Harms’ Way

The season's first brush with nature, Hurricane Sandy, brought rain,      wind, flooding and untold millions of dollars of damage to the area       within our Archdiocese, not to mention the whole east Coast of our country.  It caused the postponement of our Missionary Childhood Association’s Mission Education Day for school and parish Religious Education teachers and students at the Cathedral with Cardinal Seán     and missionaries from around the world – a disappointment to be sure.
During the storm, I received emails and texts from friends in the missions around the world who, by the miracle of technology, were tracking the storm, watching Boston and sending prayers our way.  One in particular came from Father Gabriel Msipu, pastor of the sub-parish of Mary,       Mother of God in the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia.  Father’s location was one of the last that I visited in June 2011.  Through local labor and donations, and help from the Propagation of the Faith, they had built a place of worship, an outdoor meeting space and a block of offices and classroom spaces. What they lacked to become a full time parish was a rectory; what they lacked to build a rectory was indoor running water. 
It was ironic to me that what we were all rushing to the store to buy in bottles due to the hurricane was something that Father Gabriel and his people could not get in their homes and parishes on a daily basis.
In his email, Father assured me of his prayers and reminded me of his own hope to go deeper into the African bush to serve the indigenous people of his rural diocese in a place called the Luangwa Valley.
The residents of this area are people on the move – they travel with the seasons. While their crops grow, they live with them, protecting them from local wild animals – elephants, hippopotamus and baboons.  During the rainy season, they are literally isolated; the rains flood them in and keep them from travelling outside their own villages from our late fall to late spring.  That means they go without faith formation, sacramental preparation and, most importantly, Eucharistic celebration for up to five months, generally missing Christmas and Easter because no priest can reach them.
While we watched the wind and rain blow in from Sandy, knowing that some would lose power, praying that no lives would be lost, my thoughts and prayers were also with Father Gabriel and the people of the Luangwa Valley knowing that through the support of all the Pontifical Mission Societies, one day the Diocese of Chipata may have more priests to spare to serve all their people no matter the weather.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord!

On October 21, 2012, the walls of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross reverberated with the sounds of voices and musical instruments praising God enthusiastically as we celebrated World Mission Sunday 2012.  We welcomed over seven hundred worshipers and the celebration was enhanced by a varied musical program. Choirs from the Ugandan, Cape Verdean, and Lithuanian communities made their own unique contribution to the Mass.
Ugandan Martyrs Choir

Cape Verdean Choir

Lithuanian Folk Choir

The Book of the Gospel was sung and danced in by members of the Kenyan Community.   

Students from the Confirmation class at St. Peter’s in South Boston, accompanied by their pastor, Fr. Steve Zukas, dressed in their ethnic Lithuanian costumes and served as our greeters. Readings and prayers were proclaimed in Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Lithuanian, African Krio, American Samoan, Luganda and English. 

Principal celebrant of the World Mission Sunday liturgy was Bishop Robert Hennessey, a member of the Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle. Bishop Hennessey was joined by fifteen concelebrating priests representing missionary groups and dioceses from all over the world.
The homily was delivered by Father Patrick Byrne, SVD, who labored for many years in Ecuador; not only as a missionary, but later as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in that country.  In addition, he worked for ten years as Secretary General for the Missionary Childhood (formerly Holy Childhood) Association at the Holy See.  Presently Father Byrne serves the Divine Word Missionary community as Provincial for Ireland and Great Britain. 

We were pleased to honor in a special way this year the centennial of the founding of the Maryknoll Sisters.  Like the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the Sisters had their origins in the Archdiocese of Boston under the leadership of Father James Anthony Walsh and Mother Mary Joseph Rogers.  It was wonderful to have representatives from the Maryknoll community to celebrate with us.  Congratulations to them on this milestone in their service of spreading the Gospel.

We will be continuing our observance of October as Mission Month with our first annual Mission Education Day on October 30th at the Cathedral.  Students from Catholic schools and parish programs of Religious Education will gather with Cardinal Sean for Mass and a day of enrichment focusing on the contribution that our students can make to the missionary activity of the Church.  We are grateful that Father Pat Byrne, along with Sr. Lisa Valentini, MSC, will be able to spend this day with us as well and look forward to making this a yearly event for our students.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL


Every year, something special happens on the next-to-last Sunday of October – the Church reflects on its deepest identity – that of being missionary.
On World Mission Sunday, October 21st, Catholics of the world will unite at Mass to recommit ourselves to our vocation, through baptism, to be missionaries.  As this year’s celebration takes place at the beginning of the Year of Faith, we are called in a special way to be “missionaries of faith,” above all through prayer and participation in the Eucharist.  We invite you to join us at the Archdiocesan Eucharistic celebration at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross that day at 11:30 AM as missionaries, ethnic choirs, school and parish representatives and Society benefactors gather to celebrate the precious faith being planted in even the most remote parts of the globe. Through prayers and sacrifices for The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, we are all witnesses to the miracle of the birth of the Church all around the world. 

“How privileged we are to be witnesses to the Lord’s grace giving forth great fruits in the young mission churches:  schools opening fresh, a new diocese coming to be, a wing added to the seminary,” said Father Andrew Small, OMI, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  “In our world of often not-so-good news, we can forget the great works being done in our midst every day.  As the Body of Christ, we are connected to those works through a spiritual union, the real union that is the Church.”
In a very practical way, our support reaches the mission Church where there is great zeal and enthusiasm for the faith – places such as Bangladesh, where schools can’t pay the teachers’ salaries to educate the children of poor tea workers, or Ghana, where catechists struggle to prepare the faithful for Sacraments without electricity in the parish hall, or Kenya, where the priests and Sisters can’t put fuel in their vehicle to journey to a rural village, to bring hope and help to victims of drought and famine.  
World Mission Sunday gives us the opportunity to remind the faithful here at home of the great growth of the Church in the Missions, and of the great needs of some 1,150 mission dioceses – to open our hearts, and reach out with a helping hand to our mission family.
Yes, something special happens on the next-to-last Sunday of October.  We ask that through your prayers and sacrifices, you join us in the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ – spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth!