May All Children Know His Love

One of the annual highlights, for those of us in ministry with The Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS), is our National Conference. This year, TPMS family members from Boston to Birmingham, San Diego to St. Louis, Philadelphia to Fresno, and points in between, gathered in San Antonio from March 28 to 30. Our One Family in Mission came together to learn best practices, share ideas, and renew our love for the missions -- and each other!

One of my favorite parts of our "family reunions" are the witness talks. This year, we were blessed to hear from Archbishop Emilio Nappa, Vatican President of TPMS; Father Tadeus Nowak, OMI, Vatican Secretary General of The Society for the Propagation of the Faith; Father Brian Lucas, National Director of TPMS Australia; and Ali Holden, National Director of the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) for the United States.

Ali is newly appointed to the position, having served most recently as MCA Coordinator in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. She is smart, energetic, and loves the missions! Her witness talk was focused on just that -- love.

With five years of experience helping children become excited about the mission Church and their role as MCA members in supporting it, Ali has become a passionate advocate for Christ. Her journey, however, has not been without its bumps.

In July 2022, Ali's father, Tommy (known as "Big Fun!"), passed away suddenly at the age of 64. In her words, "My world stopped." Though grieving, she realized that her father gave her a great gift -- she knew she was loved. Ali said, "There was never a day, a moment, a minute that I didn't feel his overwhelming love. It's almost as if he knew he was going to leave me too soon, so he made sure to tell me every day. I am loved."

Ali's parents made sure that she and her sisters knew another love -- that of Jesus. When a health crisis struck one of her sisters, Ali watched her mother, then her father, turn to prayer. Jesus became the center of their lives.

And, as always, He changed them. Ali had a newfound sense of His complete love. Jesus was a part of their family.

Growing up in Philadelphia, Ali knew well the story of Saint Katherine Drexel, the great missionary educator. After joining the TPMS Philly family, she discovered Fulton Sheen and Blessed Pauline Jaricot, who knew His love and knew how to share it. These holy people have spurred Ali on to share Jesus' love with children through MCA.

Ali's success will mean the further spread of Jesus' love to our children and to their peers in the missions. Please join me in prayer for just that!

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