Propagation of the Faith and Missions
The mission of this office is to encourage all Catholic to join in the Church’s mission to bring Christ to all nations (ad gentes) and by witness to the Gospel to bring all nations together as one People of God.
We encourage membership and participation in the Pontifical Mission Societies and act as a liaison for Lay Volunteers in Mission.
Pontifical Mission Societies
Society of the Propogation of the Faith
The Society for the Propagation of the Faith was founded in Lyons, France, in 1822 by a young French laywoman, Pauline Jaricot. Inspired by stories she heard about missionary work in China, she felt called by the Lord to help the Catholic Church’s worldwide missionary work. Pauline herself never traveled to the Missions, which, during her lifetime, consisted of the Missions in China – and young dioceses in the United States. Pauline gathered friends and workers in a family silk mill into “circles of ten,” asking each person to pray daily for the Missions and sacrifice a penny-a-week (at that time, quite a large sacrifice!). From this idea emerged the Propagation of the Faith. Today the General Fund of the Propagation of the Faith, which gathers gifts from Catholics all over the world – a concept that originated with Pauline Jaricot and her desire to help all the world’s missions – is the basic means of support for the Catholic Church’s worldwide Missions.
Holy Childhood Association
French Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson founded the Holy Childhood Association in 1843. Deeply affected by the distress of Chinese children abandoned in the streets, he was moved to found a society similar to the Propagation of the Faith — but for children. He was convinced that though weak and needing care, children rich in faith and love are capable of playing their own part in the Church’s mission – and even of stirring adults to show the same generous spirit. The response to Bishop Forbin-Janson’s appeal was extraordinary. In a few years, the unique concept of “children helping children” spread not only throughout his native France, but all over Europe, then to North America, Latin America and Asia, and in the last 40 years, to Africa. HCA was established in the United States in 1846, first in New Orleans, Louisiana, and later in Baltimore, Maryland. Today, its National Office is located in New York City with diocesan HCA offices nationwide. HCA was raised to the status of “Pontifical” in 1922 by Pope Pius XI.
Society of St. Peter Apostle
In 1889, mother and daughter – Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard – answered a desperate plea for help from the Missions. The French missionary bishop of Nagazaki, Japan, wrote to the two women asking for help to keep his seminary open because he had run out of the funds necessary to help educate these young men to serve their people as priests. The bishop just did not have the funds to train these young Japanese men whom, he judged, would make excellent priests.
The Bigards came to his assistance and started a small group for this purpose in their native Caen, France. From these humble beginnings emerged the Society of St. Peter Apostle. Within five years of sending their first donation to Japan, the Bigards, and those whom they enlisted to help, were sending funds to seminaries in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Korea and China.
The goal of the Society of St. Peter then and now has been to invite individuals to support the education of candidates for the Catholic priesthood in the Developing World and to support the formation of men and women candidates for the Religious life in the Missions.
In its first year, the Society of St. Peter Apostle sent help for some 2,700 seminarians in the Missions. Today, some 30,000 major seminarians, mostly in Africa and Asia, receive an annual subsidy of $700 per student.
Pontifical Missionary Union
The Pontifical Missionary Union was founded in Italy by Fr Paolo Manna in 1916. Its aim is to increase missionary awareness among priests, men and women of religious of Society of common life or Secular Institutions, among candidates to the priestly and religious life as well as among other persons engaged in the pastoral ministry. It has the same function with regard to the other Pontifical Societies which it strives to promote in the local Churches.