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.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Missionary Childhood and the Message of Pope Francis

With some of the first words of his pontificate, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, could have been speaking directly to the student members        of the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA), one of his four Pontifical Mission Societies. “How I would like a Church that is poor and for the poor!” the Holy Father said.

This is the message put forth to all our members through the monthly materials emailed to parishes and schools, our liturgical based programs and prompts for prayers and sacrifice for children in mission countries.  Whether it is a lesson on a saint for the month, Stations of the Cross       with a mission theme, or encouragement to pray the World Mission Rosary for the children of the world, membership in MCA brings our children to a greater understanding of not only how blessed they truly      are but also how, through their Catholic faith, they are called to love      and care for the poor.
Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Peabody, MA
Missionary Childhood teaches our children that we are indeed our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers if we are truly Catholic in our hearts. It also teaches them basic stewardship: each Catholic, regardless of age or station has a responsibility to others. Certainly, prayer is something of which even the youngest is capable - but this is only one of the two pillars of MCA.  The second, true sacrificial action, must follow.  During school or parish visits, the children hear how important it is to fill their Mite Boxes so that other children may eat, go to school and most importantly learn how much      God loves them. They are encouraged to give up their favorite treat      and put the cost into their box or do extra chores around the house to earn the funds needed by missionaries to spread the Gospel to the world’s children.
My favorite part though, is when I tell them that I would rather see the box returned empty than to think that the night before it is due, they put their hand out to Mom/Dad and say “My mission money is due tomorrow.” and expect that the box will magically be filled.  Can the missionaries still use those funds? Of course. Will it be a true act of Catholic stewardship coming from the students’ own Christ-like love for others, especially those who have less than they do? They know that answer, too.
As we watch Pope Francis and learn more about this humble, holy man, we can be sure that the Missionary Childhood Association is helping our students to understand the simplicity of his message.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

God Is My Light

The Catholic University of America (CUA), located in Washington, D.C., was founded in 1887 by the
American bishops as the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States.  Although its original purpose was to provide graduate level education, by 1904 its mandate expanded to include undergraduate students.  Today the campus houses twenty-one research facilities and thirteen schools, including the School of Canon Law from which I graduated in 1991. Since that time, news stories about the university catch my eye.  This week, I was particularly pleased to read about the mission trips sponsored by the office of Campus Ministry.

The Office of Campus Ministry at the university is staffed by the Franciscan friars and the coordinator of these mission trips is Brother Jim Moore, O.F.M. Conv.  Catholic News Agency reports that almost one hundred students and staff are involved in these mission trips this year.  Currently, twenty students are completing a spring break mission journey to Jamaica, while another eleven are working in Ecuador.  These trips provide an opportunity for students and advisors alike to immerse themselves in a different culture, complete various service projects, and bring the light of faith to the people with whom they interact. 

According to the university website, these mission trips began in the summer of 2001 when a group of students traveled to Guatemala to help in the local schools and farms.  Since then, trips have taken students to Panama, Honduras, Belize, and Tanzania, in addition to Jamaica and Ecuador.  The most enduring value of this outreach is echoed in the following words on the website:

Through these various service opportunities, the students have the privilege to meet, serve, and be welcomed by the poorest of the poor.  Hearts are changed, eyes are opened, and the desire to serve is ignited.

Those who give of themselves in this way usually find that they receive even more than they give.  Hats off to the campus ministry and students at CUA, who give flesh and blood to the motto of the university and share God’s light with those to whom they are missioned, and with each other. I would be interested in hearing from any of our readers who have participated in similar missionary experiences.  Please write to me at 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, MA 02184 or [email protected]
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL 

MCA Members: Living Their Faith “Out Loud!”!

My family is a musical one; as long as I can remember, I’ve been surrounded by song.  When we gather, all it takes is a word or phrase and one or more of us launch into a familiar tune that has everyone joining in, causing my brother-in-law John to lovingly roll his eyes and proclaim, “Everything’s a song with you people!”

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when I visit a school or parish Religious Education program, as I did recently in Bridgewater, that I would get the students singing!  As one would imagine, some of them are more willing than others to join in the “fun”. 
At St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, there was not a shy one in the bunch! Over the course of my four visits to the parish, I spoke to over 900 children about the missions and how as Catholics, they were called to live their faith “out loud” – letting everyone around them know by their words and deeds that they were followers of Jesus. The song they sang with me was fun, a little silly, but got the message across:
I am a C
I am a C-H
I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N
Cuz I have C-H-R-I-S-T
In my H-E-A-R-T
And I will
L-I-V-E E-T-E-R-N-A-L-L-Y!
Even saying it is a bit of a tongue twister, especially at the end! The eighth graders learned it first and then had the job of teaching the others this simple but profound song about the basics of our faith, giving them a feel for what it’s like to be a missionary right there in their own parish. I encouraged them to sing the song and live it wherever they went!
Their membership in Missionary Childhood gives them the chance to spread that same message to the children of the world, even though the children at St. Thomas may never get a chance to go to some of the faraway places where missionaries are serving their brothers and sisters in Christ.
It was such a thrill, then for me to get an email from the parish DRE, Deb Hill telling me that she heard that the seventh graders were indeed “singing the song”, literally – in the hallways, before history class, in school; in a public school mind you and at the top of their lungs!
Now, that’s definitely living their faith “out loud”!
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Cross Our Only Sword

When I was growing up in Saint John the Baptist Parish in Peabody, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur taught us to sing The Catholic Action Hymn.  Some of you may be familiar with it.  It begins “An army of youth, flying the standard of truth.  We’re fighting for Christ the Lord.”  It continues “Heads lifted high, Catholic Action our cry and the cross our only sword.”  I often think of these words when I correspond with our missionaries, many of whom are faced with danger and challenges that go well beyond the tasks of evangelizing their people.

One of my faithful and favorite correspondents is Archbishop Adrian Smith, a member of the Society of Mary (Marists).  The Marist missionaries are well known in Boston because they have staffed some of our parishes over the years, as well as the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories and the Lourdes Center in Boston.  Archbishop Smith is the ordinary of the Archdiocese of Honiara in the Solomon Islands and his letters are informative and interesting as he fills me in on the happenings in his local church.

His most recent letter arrived in December with details of the celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the martyrdom of the Marist missionaries at Ruavatu Parish,  Father Henry Oude Eberink, sm, Sister M. Odila, smsm, Sister M. Sylvia, smsm, Sister Edme Bonnet, smsm and a Boston native, Father Arthur Duhamel, sm.  Archbishop Smith writes:

He was born in Boston, USA.  After two years in a parish, he went to Solomon Islands in 1939, age 31.  After three years at Ruavatu on Guadalcanal, he died at age 34, bayoneted to death by the invading Japanese army.  It was good to recall the pastoral commitment of Father Arthur and the other missionaries who died with him.  Their fidelity has a strong message for all of us.

He concludes his letter:

Thank you for your kindness to us.  I hope that one day I have the opportunity to meet you and share more with you about life here in Guadalcanal.

Our missionaries are armed only with the cross of Christ.  Continue to pray for Archbishop Smith and all those who carry that cross so as to share it with others.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Our God is a God of Surprises

I have long believed in the axiom proclaimed in the title of this article.  Just when one thinks they can predict the normal course of events, something incredible happens as it did last week.  With the resignation of our Supreme Pontiff and head of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Pope Benedict XVI, for just a moment the world seemed to turn sideways.  The secular media was in an uproar! How could this happen? What does this mean?

My favorite media clip actually came from Facebook where someone parodied the old British war poster: Keep calm and Catholic on.

Indeed, that is exactly what the Holy Father seems to be doing.  Pope Benedict is showing the world his ultimate strength – that of being a Catholic teacher.  Throughout his Pontificate, the pope has taught us that the most important thing we can do as Catholics, no matter who we are, is to keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus Christ and pray to live out His mission for us daily, even if the world tells us something different.  Perhaps his renunciation of the power and status of the papacy is a clear signal to all that he means to teach us how true humility and selflessness – the message of Christ and his missionaries - are lived in fidelity to God’s will, not our own.

At the last gathering of the National Directors of Pontifical Mission Societies, Pope Benedict underscored the importance of this: “The message of Christ, past and present, can not conform to the logic of this world, because it is prophecy and deliverance, it is the seed of a new humanity that is growing, and which only at the end of time will have its full realization…Evangelization, which is always urgent, in these times impels the Church to work with ever quickening steps on the path of the world, to bring knowledge of Christ to every man. Only in the Truth, in fact, that is Christ Himself, can humanity discover the meaning of existence, to find salvation and grow in justice and peace. "
Fr. Tim Lehane, SVD, Secty. Genl. of the Propagation of the Faith and Dr. Baptistine Ralamboarison, Secty. Genl. of Missionary Childhood Association are greeted by now Pontiff Emeritus Benedict
 The Holy Father gave us instructions on that day that should be followed no matter who occupies the Chair of Peter:"Today, mission needs to renew its trust in the action of God; it needs intense prayer so that His Kingdom will be done on earth as in heaven.”

Join us today in praying for the Holy Father and his successor, the next Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pontiff.  Please consider making a gift in his honor to the work of the Church and her missionaries through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith as well.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Prayer, Fasting, and Charity

 I write these words not far  from Ash Wednesday.  On that day, folks all over the world bore on their heads the telltale sign of ashes, marking them as Christians, ready to embark on a journey through Lent—a journey that leads to the celebration of the central mystery of our faith—the Resurrection of Jesus.

This Lenten journey is meant to be both interior and exterior.  Certainly the ashes we accepted at the beginning of Lent identify us as pilgrims on that journey of faith.  However, even more significant is the interior passage that takes us from sin to grace, blindness to vision, bondage to freedom and death to life.  Through our prayer, fasting and charity we enter more deeply into the mystery of faith that, in our busy lives, we can take for granted or ignore altogether.

Charity takes many forms.  Its purpose is not simply to extend ourselves in doing for others things we might avoid.  It can lead us to express our faith locally, by reaching out to our near neighbors who are in need, or it may encourage us to look more globally, widening our horizons to the “far away neighbor” in any one of manifold mission territories all over the world.
During this season, The Society for the Propagation of the Faith conducts our Annual Lenten Appeal.  This Appeal enables missionaries to fulfill the mandate to reach out to people in mission territories all over the word, bringing the Gospel and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy to those who need them desperately.  You may respond by filling out the coupon below, or by contributing online at  Your gift is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Your support is needed year round as well.  Please call us at 617-542-1776 or email [email protected] to request a Membership Club Calendar with postage paid envelopes.  Through your membership in The Cardinal Cushing Club, as a monthly donor to the Society, you provide critical support to the men and women who have accepted the challenge of the mission “ad gentes”—to the nations.  
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

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; they are also included in the intentions of a daily Mass celebrated at the Vatican.

In many mission locations, funds from the Society are a substantial means of support. One such place is Zambia in south east Africa. With support from the Society’s members, children of all ages receive faith formation, leading to many baptisms; often, a whole class of children is presented for the sacrament at once. Because access to religious education is difficult in rural areas, children are often baptized well past infancy. Proud parents and godparents gather as the children process into church, candles in hand, ready to answer in the affirmative those familiar questions: Do you reject Satan?...Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth? Their collective “Yes!”  should make all Members proud.

Because of our Members’ support, the children are taught not only that God loves them, but that through our One Family in Mission, people from around the world love and support them as well.

For more information on 5 year, 10 year or Perpetual Enrollments, 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:
Robin Roberts, Don Meredith, Dave Duerson, Ricky Bell, Jarvis Williams, John Flynn, Paul R. O’Donnell, Jr., Sr. Mary Rose McGeady,  Dr. Jerome Lejeune,  Darren James Labonte, Dorothy Kamenshek,  Karen Silva, The Family of Joanne and Walter Jarosz, Diane, Erica, Will, Ken & Don Bukowski, Diluvina Allard, Amy Linn, Irena & Josef Dasko, The Richard F. Galehouse Family, Lynn & Mary Detweiler, James & Nora Tully, The Family of John Shaughnessy, Margaret Cassidy,The O’Brien Family, Natalia Cullen, Mr. and Mrs. Ashton, Ruth Sullivan, Joan Ferranti, Margaret A. Maggiore, The Family of Ronald Nix, Rev. Thomas J. Reilly and Family, Barbara A. Potts, Susan Butcher,  Antonio Nararainsami, Frank Buckles, Tony Snow,  John Marzano,  Rev. Kevin P. Fitzpatrick, S.T.D., Barbara A. Potts, Mr. and Mrs. Julio Foster & Family, Mr. Robert Hofeman & Family, Mr. Shaun Sullivan and Family, Louise Barba Carvalho
-Maureen Crowley Heil