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, June 27, 2013

It’s a Small (Mission) World

This week, we had the pleasure of hosting Fr. Denis Treacy, a Mill Hill Missionary and cousin of Mary Myers from the Pastoral Center.  Fr. Denis has been a missionary priest for over forty years, thirty seven of them in Kisii, Kenya.  When he first arrived in Kisii, there were no local clergy; he served with fellow missionary priests.  Fr. Denis told me he considers it one of the greatest successes of his mission that when he left, the opposite was true – most of the clergy were Kenyan.
Through his work, and the work of many others, the Catholic faith had taken root in Kisii and many men had answered God’s call to the priesthood.  They were able to do so with the help of The Society of St. Peter Apostle, one of our Church’s four Pontifical Mission Societies and a “brother” Society to the Propagation of the Faith. 
Every year, in mission seminaries worldwide, The Society of St. Peter Apostle grants $700 scholarships to men studying for the priesthood.  The remainder of their fees is covered by their home dioceses, many of whom struggle to meet their part.  Those dioceses are also faced with a “problem” we would love to have here in Boston: an abundance of vocations.  Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding, some young men are asked to delay their seminary training or are turned away altogether.
Fr. Dennis Treacy, mhm and Maureen at the PMS Boston office
As Fr. Treacy and I discussed his time in Kenya as well as his work for Missio, the British version of the Pontifical Mission Societies, he showed interest in our various mission education materials produced by our office for schools and parishes.  As I showed him our Cardinal Cushing Club donor calendar, he spotted a photo on my desk.  In it, I am greeting two visiting mission priests who were in Boston for our World Mission Sunday celebration last October.  “I know this man!” Father exclaimed.  “I helped him through his seminary training in Kenya!”
Fr. Peter, AJ, Maureen and Fr. Richard, AJ
Fr. Richard O'Nyamwaro, AJ, now stationed as an Apostles of Jesus missionary priest in the Diocese of Allentown, PA, had been able to say a resounding “YES!” to God’s call to the priesthood because a missionary had been in place in Kenya to lead the O’Nyamwaro family to the Catholic faith.  Fr. Richard has become our good friend and collaborator through mission appeals done here in Boston to support his own mission work.
This summer, please consider making a gift to the Society of St. Peter Apostle for the education of seminarians in the missions so that more “small (mission) world” stories can be told.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

Servant of All

The Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith relies heavily on the prayerful and financial support of many people.  One of the key groups is the Cardinal Cushing Club, made up of folks who generously support us with prayer and sacrifices.  The club is named for our former Director, the late Richard Cardinal Cushing.  Each year members receive a mission-themed calendar which highlights, in stories and pictures, the work they make possible.  The calendar comes with with pre-addressed and post-paid envelopes allowing members the opportunity to provide their vital support to the missions on a regular basis. 
We encourage members to pray daily for missionaries and for each other, especially using the World Mission Rosary.  They are also invited to events throughout the year, including the celebration of World Mission Sunday in October at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.  On that day the Mass is celebrated by Cardinal Sean and missionaries are invited to join us from all over the world, together with the ethnic groups they serve.  Always the second to last Sunday of October, this year, it falls on October 20th.
Recently we invited Cardinal Cushing Club members to our offices in the Pastoral Center in Braintree.  We began with Mass celebrated by me in the chapel and followed that with light refreshments and the showing of the film Servant of All, on the life of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.  Archbishop Sheen was one of our former National Directors and his cause for canonization is presently with the Congregation of the Causes of Saints at the Vatican.  Finally, we welcomed our visitors to our office for a look at the desks of Bishop Cheverus, Boston’s first Bishop, and that of Cardinal Cushing himself.  All in all, it was an enjoyable morning for our staff and our Cardinal Cushing Club members.
If you are not already a member, we would be happy to welcome you so that you too can make a difference in the lives of others around the world.  Simply telephone our office, or return the clip coupon at the bottom of this column by mail.  We look forward to meeting with you in person at our next gathering which is scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, 2013.
-Rev. Rodney J.Copp, JCL

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lessons of Missionaries Live on in Boston

On June 3, 1886, twenty-two young men were murdered for their faith in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now modern day Uganda.  Their leader, Charles Lwanga was thirty-six years old.  To call many of them men, however, may be a misnomer – quite a few were teens.  The youngest, Kizito, was all of fourteen.  Though missionaries had been invited to the kingdom, it was soon apparent to the king that Christian faith meant a belief that God’s laws trumped those of man.  This did not sit well with a monarch used to absolute sovereignty.  When the young men refused his anti-Christian demands and his calls to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, he made an example of them.  They were arrested, tortured and marched twenty miles to the site of their execution: Namugongo.

Charles Lwanga and his companions were canonized in 1964 and a shrine was built at the site where they  were burnt alive for their faith. The altar itself marks the spot of St. Charles’ death.
Spot of Martyrdom of St. Charles Lwanga

Uganda Martyrs' Shrine

Every year, on June 3, a great celebration is held at Namugongo to commemorate the Martyrs’ sacrifice. Just as the Martyrs marched to their deaths, the faithful from across Africa walk to the shrine; they come to bear witness to the great sacrifice made by their ancestors so that they, too, could have a share in the Christian faith.  I was privileged to be present at the celebration in 2011.  The joy-filled faith of over one million pilgrims brought together at the Lord’s Table is one that was unforgettable.

Bishop Charles Wamika of Jinja, Uganda
Here in Boston, we have one of the largest Ugandan communities in the world, headquartered at St. Mary Parish in Waltham.  Every year, a Ugandan bishop is invited to celebrate the Martyrs’ Feast Day with the community; this year’s celebrant was Bishop Charles Wamika from the Diocese of Jinja.  Mass began with a procession    that includes men and women, young and old, clergy and laity all led
by relics of the Martyrs.

The music, sung in English, Latin, and Luganda (among other Ugandan languages) was brilliant and moving! This year, we were treated to the addition of the Ugandan Catholic Community’s Youth group singers. As the Presentation of the Gifts was danced up the aisle by teens and presented to Bishop Charles by the children, the gifts were clear - the faith defended so many years ago in Uganda continues to bear fruit here in Boston.  The Ugandan Catholic Community of Boston is passing on their rich and deep cultural heritage to the next generation while keeping the faith of the Martyrs ever present in their lives. 

The lessons taught by missionaries lives on.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

To Love As Christ Loves

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of hosting in our offices Bishop Augustine Ukwuoma, bishop of the Diocese of Orlu in Nigeria.  Bishop Augustine is spending a couple of weeks in the United States in order to visit with priests from his diocese who are working and studying here.  Accompanying  him were two priests from Orlu who are assigned to Boston parishes—Father Jude, parochial vicar at St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Dorchester, and Father Anselm, parochial vicar at Saint Margaret Parish in Burlington.

Bishop Augustine Ukwuoma
One of the reasons that Bishop Augustine wanted to meet with me was to talk about possible participation in our Missionary Cooperative Program for 2014.  He also asked about sharing Mass stipends with his priests.  I explained to the bishop that we are only able to make these stipends available to him for his priests to live on because of the generosity of you, our donors, who continue the time honored tradition of having Masses celebrated for your loved ones, living and deceased.

The Orlu diocese was formed in 1980 and is still growing.  Bishop Augustine is its second bishop and his predecessor is still living and resident in the diocese, thus making possible a living history that is fascinating and fresh.  The Catholics of the Orlu diocese are strong in their faith and very family-centered.  This year they will welcome eighteen newly-ordained priests into the presbyterate, and vocations to the priesthood and religious life are thriving.  The support he will receive from Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston through our Missionary Cooperative Plan as well as through Mass stipends will be an important contribution to that continued growth.

Bishop Augustine is no stranger to the United States, having ministered as a priest in California, Ohio and Georgia while earning a doctorate in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.  His doctoral dissertation was presented in 1999 on the subject The Sources of Stress for Nigerian Priests.  I joked with him that this was excellent preparation for his role as bishop!  At the time of his ordination as bishop he chose as his episcopal motto, diligere sicut dilexit Christusto love as Christ loves.  It is clear, even from the brief time we spent together, that he lives by his motto and that it motivates his ministry to the people of Orlu.  I look forward to our further collaboration with him as his diocese continues to flourish and grow under his leadership.

For more information on the missionary activity of the Church please see our website —
-Rev. Rodney J. Copp, JCL

Join the Cardinal Cushing Club!

The story of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith began in France in the early 19th century. Pauline Marie Jaricot, inspired by letters about the missions from her brother, started gathering together small groups — mostly workers in her family’s silk factory.  She asked each member of the group to offer daily prayer and a weekly sacrifice for the Church’s worldwide missionary work.  Pauline insisted that her efforts be directed to all the Church’s missions, that it be universal.

The very first collection of the Propagation of the Faith in 1822 supported the vast diocese of Louisiana, which then extended from the Florida Keys to Canada, as well as the missions of Kentucky and China.  Here in Boston and across the United States, the Propagation of the Faith helped to build our churches, schools and Catholic health care system until we were able to stand on our own financially.  The United States declared its mission independence in 1908.  Boston, however, began sending support back to the Propagation of the Faith ten years earlier and opened our own office in 1898.

In 1922, a young Fr. Richard Cushing took on a job that would become a lifelong love: Director of the Propagation of the Faith.  As the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, Cushing still delighted in gathering people together – even filling the old Boston Garden for World Mission Sunday – to learn more about the missionary work of the Church and how they could help.

Because of this, we named our Monthly Donor Club the Cardinal Cushing Club. Our most regular benefactors are its members.  As such, they receive a mission calendar every year with pictures and stories that highlight where and how their prayers and sacrifices are being put to use in the missions.  Built into this calendar is a small pouch that contains postage paid envelopes enabling club members to be regular supporters – giving missionaries the vital aid needed to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those most in need.

Another benefit of membership in the Cardinal Cushing Club is invitations to events such as World Mission Sunday Mass with Cardinal Sean and to smaller gatherings such as our upcoming Spring Membership Day on June 12 at the Pastoral Center.  Following a 10AM Mass celebrated by Archdiocesan Director Rev. Rodney Copp, JCL, and light refreshments and fellowship, members will be treated to a screening of a movie about the life of one-time national Propagation National Director Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen entitled “Servant of All”.

To join the Cardinal Cushing Club and join our gathering, click here and make your first membership donation today – it will serve as your RSVP for our June 12 event. See you there!
-Maureen Crowley Heil