Pope Francis: Mission Month is for Children, Too!

To mark the beginning of the Church's celebration of October as Mission Month, Pope Francis published a message to all Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) members, who this year are celebrating the 180th anniversary of the founding of their Pontifical Society. He also chose October 1, because it marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the patron saints of missionaries, Saint Therese of Lisieux.

The Holy Father noted that Saint Therese was herself a member of MCA, then called the Holy Childhood Association, since she was seven years old! Pope Francis expressed his gratitude that because MCA is, "still today, active, and vibrant after 180 years, (it) teaches so many children and young people around the world to be missionary disciples."

He went on to say, "It is from Saint Therese that we can receive a precious message: with our prayer, even if we are small, we can contribute to making Jesus known and loved, silently, helping others to do good. Prayer -- Saint Therese teaches us -- is the first missionary action, and can reach every place in the world, every child and young person, every missionary. That is why I invite you to grow, through it, in friendship with our Savior, and in friendship among yourselves and all the young people of the world, so as to be peacemakers."

Calling MCA members his "special collaborators," the pope addressed them directly, saying, "Dear missionary children and young people, I want to thank you, because with your efforts you help all of us to be courageous witnesses of the Gospel and to share with others, not only material assistance, but what is most precious to us: faith."

Missionary Childhood Association is one of our Church's four Pontifical Mission Societies, founded in 1843 by Bishop Charles Forbin Janson of Nancy, France. Pope Francis points out that, "It is a 'Pontifical Society,' and therefore universal, of the Catholic Church, of the Pope." He reminds members -- our Catholic school students, parish faith formation students, and their teachers and formators -- that, "this qualification also implies a further important commitment: that of building bridges and relationships, following the example of Christ Himself."

The Holy Father closes his letter by reminding all members to live by MCA's motto: Children Helping Children. They fulfill their MCA membership obligations by praying a Hail Mary every day for the children of the world and by setting a time of year -- a month or a liturgical season -- to make sacrificial, material offerings to help missionaries who work with children.

Learn more about MCA membership for your children or grandchildren at www.propfaithboston.org.