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.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Emily’s “Little Way”

While speaking to the youngest students at Catholic schools or parish Religious Education for the Missionary Childhood Association, I am always very careful to walk them through the basic information. They may not be aware that as Pope Francis recently said, “…to evangelize, baptism is enough!” Each and every one of us, no matter our age, is called to live our faith in a way that draws others closer to Jesus Christ; this is one of the first lessons of the Missionary Childhood Association.

When asked to give examples of how they might live out their baptismal call to be missionaries every day, that is show others who Jesus is, the “littles” as I call them usually give basic answers.

We can be kind…
We can share…
We can be helpful…

All of these are valid answers and I usually encourage them to expand upon them. During my visit to St. Bridget School in Framingham, no encouragement was necessary, thanks to Emily. With wisdom well beyond her years, Emily confidently explained to her peers that she was a missionary at home by watering her mother’s plants. When some of her classmates didn’t see the connection, she went on to explain that her mom loves houseplants: they make the house look pretty. But sometimes, Mom gets so busy that she forgets to water them and they droop or worse, die and that makes Mom sad. So, Emily made the decision to take it upon herself to water the plants without fanfare, knowing that healthy plants would make her mom happy.

The beauty of Emily’s simple gift of kindness to her mother gave me the opportunity to explain the “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lisieux, Patroness of the Missions. I told them how every day, Therese would offer every small action she did to God for the benefit of others, thus making each task she did a prayer. Pointing out that she was indeed our patron, I asked the students to guess what mission land had benefited from Therese’s service. They called out their answers: India? Africa? China?

Imagine their surprise when I told them that Therese was a cloistered nun – her mission territory was her convent, and she never left it! She had changed the world through the power of her prayer and her “Little Way”, showing kindness and care to others in everyday life and offering it for the good of the Church around the world.
The Missionary Childhood Association is busy teaching our children to be more like Therese – offering their prayers and works to make the world a better place, little by little, every day.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

One Family in Mission

Every year the Diocesan Directors and Coordinators of the Pontifical Mission Societies gather for a national meeting.  This year, our Annual Meeting took place in Sugar Land, Texas, a suburb of Houston from April 15 to April 18.  Since my flight took off from Boston at 1:15 on Monday afternoon, it wasn’t until four hours later when I landed that I became aware of the horrific events that had taken place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. 
This tragedy took on a very personal face for us in the Boston office of The Society for the Propagation of the Faith for two reasons.  First, I learned later on Monday that one of our office staff persons had been at the finish line as a spectator less than twenty minutes before the blast.  Fortunately, she had left the area before anything occurred and was safe and sound.  Sadly, this was not to be the case for Martin Richard, the youngest victim who lost his life in this terrorist act.  Maureen Heil, our Program Director and Missionary Childhood Association coordinator, connected Martin as a former student from Pope John Paul II Academy’s Neponset Campus and therefore an MCA member.  This innocent, smiling second-grader who had recently made his First Holy Communion, has become a missionary in a way that none of us could have imagined. He has riveted our attention on the desperate need to abolish senseless violence and to replace it with the peace that comes only from a strong and close relationship with Christ himself.  Through his membership in MCA, Martin became a member of our “one family in mission.”
Archbishop Protase Rugumbwa
The response from everyone at the meeting was also overwhelming.  Both Archbishop Protase Rugumbwa, the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies at the Holy See who spent the week with us, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, shared their condolences with us, as did many of those attending the meeting.  In addition, we received numerous e-mail messages and texts from diocesan and national mission offices all over the world, expressing concern for the staff in the Boston office and their families. 
We have once again been reminded of the existence of evil in our world and of the unpredictability of human existence, but have also been powerfully reminded of the goodness of so many who came forward last Monday and since to offer assistance to those in need.  May we focus on that goodness as we continue to pray for those who were injured or killed and for their families, inspired by Martin’s sign that read “no more hurting people.”
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Saving Lives through Society Enrollment

A few weeks ago in this column, Fr. Copp wrote of one of our favorite “pen pals” here in the office – Archbishop Adrian Smith of Honiara. His letters are always full of great stories, detailing the lives and work of his people and how the Church is serving them.

Just today, a story came to us through Fides, the news service of our Vatican Office, showing us just how vital the support of donors to our Mission Societies is to the people in the South Seas. Honiara, in the Solomon Islands, is the capital city on the largest island of Guadalcanal. A major problem right now is urbanization – people are moving in from the provinces seeking employment, with no infrastructure to support them. Fides tells us this:

More than a third of the inhabitants of the city are facing serious health consequences due to lack of drinking water and health services. The families of Honiara must search for drinking water for cooking, drinking, and bathing every day. 92% of households do not have any water supply, forcing residents to collect their water from public fountains, wells, rivers or streams. In the slums there is no drinking water. These deficiencies have an impact on health, resulting in cases of dysentery, diarrhea and cholera. According to estimates by the United Nations Environment Program, 8% of all deaths of children under five years of age in the Solomon Islands are caused by these diseases.

Some of the few places that the citizens of Honiara can come to for clean water are Catholic schools, health clinics and feeding stations. Serving all people, those programs are supported when the donors of Boston use our enrollment cards and folders. By offering $3 for a sympathy, birthday, get well, thank you, or other special occasion card, your loved one receives the spiritual benefit of a shared remembrance in 15,000 Masses in the missions for one year. They are also recalled at a daily Mass at the Vatican celebrated for all members of The Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

Our five and ten year memberships, for an offering of $5 and $10 respectively, are presented in a padded leatherette folder with a glossy holy picture of your choosing on one side and the certificate of enrollment on the other. Perpetual Enrollments are available for individuals for a $50 offering and families for $100. Besides the spiritual benefits to the enrollee, your use of our greeting cards and enrollments provide tangible benefits to millions around the world who struggle every day to live in dignity – some only looking for a simple glass of clean water for their children.

For more information, please email [email protected], call 617-542-1776 or click here to go to the Enrollment page of our website.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Christ is Risen, Truly Risen

Fr. Bernard Makadani Zulu
I received this week an e-mail from Father Bernard Makadani Zulu, the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Zambia.  Father Bernard is no stranger to our office in Braintree, having preached in some of our parishes as part of the Missionary Cooperative Plan of the Archdiocese.  His commitment and his enthusiasm is contagious and he brings the warmth and joy of the Gospel to everyone he meets. 

In his e-mail, Father Bernard expresses his gratitude, not only to me, but to all of you and so I wanted to share his message with you.

On the occasion of this feast, Easter, I wish to thank you most sincerely for for being an all weather friend. Your availability and commitment has had a huge impact on the work we do at the mission office in Zambia.  I also remember you and your collaborators in a special way in this Year of Faith, a year in which the entire Christian community and individual Christians are invited to rediscover, to renew and communicate the gift of faith through a journey of conversion during which we nourish ourselves with the word of God and Bread of Life. Our apostolic missionary service to support and promote the mission solidarity is also a call to renewal so as to respond to the missionary vocation of the Church. This is a privileged time to draw us into the heart of the Year of Faith, thus giving a universal uplift to its celebration.

I wish you Happy Easter and God’s blessings. Let’s continue to pray for each other so that the feast of the Risen Lord will reawaken in each one of us the joy and desire to “go” out to meet the Christian Community taking Christ to all. Kindly convey our sincere thanks and Easter Greetings to our benefactors and your collaborators.

From Father Bernard and from all of us at the Pontifical Mission Societies here in Boston, we wish the blessings of Easter to you and your families.

To see more of the fruits of Father Bernard’s work, which he is able to do thanks in part to the support of our donors here in Boston, click here to go to our website's Missionary Childhood Association's page.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Missionaries at Home and a World Away

Since we are not called to spread the Good News of Jesus only during one season of the year, it stands to reason that Mission Education must be an ongoing part of our children’s faith formation, whether they are attending a Catholic School or a parish Religious Education program.  The programs of the Missionary Childhood Association help to achieve this goal.  As part of the program, every school and parish is asked to appoint a Mission Moderator; s/he is an interested adult who will coordinate the mission programs year round.  They receive the monthly emails of materials from our office with lesson plans for studying a missionary saint, classroom or homework activities for the students to learn more about the missions, and a life issue affecting the world’s children and how the Catholic Church is reaching out to help them.
The Mission Moderator appoints a few students – Mission Representatives - to be his/her aides in the distribution of materials, hanging of posters, creating mission-themed bulletin boards and even reading mission prayers or leading prayer services for the whole student body when possible.
At Our Lady’s Academy in Waltham, this system proved its worth once again. During my visit to the school in January, students heard about the Church’s work (and therefore their work, through MCA) in the South American country of Ecuador.  Waltham’s children learned that many of the children of Quito, the capital city of Ecuador are homeless and work to feed themselves as shoeshine boys, sidewalk sweepers and errand girls. Though some live on the streets with their families, others are orphans depending on each other for any kind of “family” bond.  Local missionaries visit these children at night bringing hot meals, some basic literacy instruction and most importantly, faith formation – the knowledge that God loves them.
Along with their Mite Boxes, Our Lady’s students received from Mission Moderator Peg Juppe and her Mission Representatives instructions on what food product each grade level should bring in during Holy Week (along with their Mite Box full of sacrifices for MCA)to donate to their parish St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. This made the students missionaries in their home town and a world away!
Their gym’s stage was full of pasta, sauce, peanut butter, jelly, ham, and boxes of macaroni and cheese; in front of the stage was a large clear jug waiting for each homeroom to send a student forward with their mission sacrifices. The students’ cheers grew louder with each contribution until they reached their goal:  a full jar sacrificed for the children of the missions!
To see a video of the students’ missionary success, click here.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

To the Ends of the Earth

Within the past two weeks, I have sent letters concerning our annual Missionary Cooperative Program (MCP) to the pastors and administrators in the Archdiocese of Boston.  MCP brings a mission speaker into every parish once a year.  Its purpose is not only to raise financial support for missionary activity, but also to bring the message of mission education to every parishioner.

One of the mission dioceses that benefits from MCP is the diocese of Machakos in Kenya, a relatively young African diocese founded in 1969.  This week I received a letter from the bishop of Machakos, Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde, thanking me for the support his diocese received from the 2012 MCP.  The Archdiocesan parishes who welcomed the Bishop’s representative were Holy Family, Lowell, St. John the Evangelist, Chelmsford, St. James the Greater, Boston, and my own parish, St. Gerard Majella in Canton.

In Bishop Musonde’s letter, he detailed how this money would be spent:

As indicated in our 2012 MCP application, I am committing the donations from your diocese to support the following needs:

1)  Payment of tuition and fees for bright children from poor families to complete their high school and/or college education.  We often find that if students with potential are unable to complete their education, they turn to drug abuse and undesirable lifestyles.
2)  We will continue our support of our 21 group homes which house children with disabilities.  We need to make the homes safer and more comfortable for them.
3)  We will continue to support the 4 orphanages in our diocese to provide the children with the necessities of life and a safe and nurturing environment.

Although you may never leave the comfort of your own home, you can fulfill your vocation as a missionary carrying the gospel message “to the ends of the earth” by your prayerful and generous support of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith when your parish hosts a missionary representative sometime during the next few months.  Bishop Musonde closed his letter by writing May God bless you abundantly for your support of this life transforming ministry.  Although those words were addressed to me, they are also meant for each one of you.  During this Easter season, may the Risen Christ bless you with his peace and with the ultimate gift of eternal life.
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL