Thanks to Volunteers, We're Having a Mary-athon!

April 20th is National Volunteer Day. We can think of no better group to honor than our own wonderful, dedicated people who give to the missions with their time and talent.

Before our shutdown closed the Pastoral Center to outside visitors, we had a regular rotation of people who came to office to assist us with office tasks of all kinds. To say we miss them is an incredible understatement!

Any time we run an event, whether it's a night at the movies or a World Mission Sunday Mass, another group of committed people show up to help keep everything running as smooth as possible.

Whether it's filing, helping to count your donations, photographing events, handing out programs, or even working to straighten out our wonky, old database for donor history (Thanks, Honey!), we would be lost without these dedicated people.

Since the shutdown, and continuing all year since, a new group of volunteers has stepped forward -- our World Mission Rosary makers.

Responding to bulletin announcements that we placed in parishes, over fifty people stepped up to make the beads. Some had experience, some did not. Working at their own pace, our helpers assemble the plastic crucifix, centerpiece, and beads of the five colors that Fulton Sheen used when he designed this special way to pray for the missions.

Our goal is to put a World Mission Rosary in the hands of every Catholic student, either in our schools or parish Faith Formation in the Archdiocese. As you can see from the picture, we are well on our way to having enough!

We kick off this program in May by sponsoring a "Mary-athon"! We are offering schools or parish programs a rosary for each of their students while supplies last (new rosaries are arriving every week!). In return, students promise to get pledges from their family and family friends for each decade they pray during May. Parents can help by praying with their students and by emailing family and friends to ask for pledges. One-time donations are fine too. All proceeds will go to The Missionary Childhood Association, which is our Pontifical Society that funds projects for missionaries who work with children under the age of fourteen.

Want to help? Talk to your Catholic school Principal of parish Faith Formation Director and ask them to join our Mary-athon. It benefits all our children and those in the missions, too.

- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.