Often enough, when people think of The Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS), it is through the lens of wealthier countries helping to plant the seeds of the Gospel in under-funded countries and then continuing to "water" those seeds with prayers and material support. Many are surprised to find out that TPMS is present in every country where there are Catholics.
While over 1,120 territories and dioceses are still considered "mission" by the Church, they, too, are members of our One Family in Mission, encouraging the faithful to pray and sacrifice so that the Good News may be proclaimed.
I've written many times about the World Mission Rosary, begun by Fulton Sheen in 1951; each decade is color-coded for a different continent. One prays for the missionaries and people of that locale as they pray the rosary. We distribute them regularly here in the Archdiocese of Boston to promote regular prayer for the missions. TPMS offices across the U.S. do the same. Would it surprise you to know that I've seen children with this rosary in Tororo, Uganda? That adults in Mendi, Papua New Guinea pray with it? How did they learn about it?
Through their Pontifical Mission Societies offices.
Every October, we celebrate World Mission Sunday for the Propagation of the Faith. Besides the large, Archdiocesan Mass, each parish takes up a collection for the missions. Would it surprise you to know that in the rural mountains of Sicuani, Peru parishioners sacrifice for the missions as well? That in the slums of Cebu in the Philippines, people who live in tin shacks give from their poverty to help support the work of missionaries? Why do they do it?
They know that there are people in the world worse off than they are because they do not yet know the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The Epiphany is International Missionary Childhood Day. At the Angelus on that day, the Holy Father, head of TPMS, always gives a "shout out" to those he calls his "young missionaries." This year, he said,
"I greet all the children, boys and girls, who in every part of the world are spreading the joy of being Jesus' friends, and who are dedicated through prayer, sacrifice, and offerings, to support the missionaries of the Gospel."
Even while receiving help from this Society, children in Lagos, Nigeria are joining those in Galle, Sri Lanka to help to improve the lives of their peers through prayer and sacrifice, living the motto "children helping children."
TPMS began 200 years ago as a membership Society. Join us now and help to spread the Gospel, worldwide.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.