To mark the 150th anniversary of the declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter entitled "With a Father's Heart". The Holy Father also declared a special Year of Saint Joseph.
In his letter, Pope Francis describes Saint Joseph as "the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence," who nonetheless played "an incomparable role in the history of salvation." He could have easily been describing missionaries, too.
Around the world, missionaries work daily to bring the gift of faith to others. Some honor the earthly father of Jesus by naming their projects for him. This Lent, will you join them and support their work by making a gift to one of our Pontifical Mission Societies?
During the reign of the Khmer Rouge, all Catholic churches in Cambodia were destroyed; there are still no proper worship structures. Saint Joseph Church, in Phnom Penh, is a school that, with help from The Propagation of the Faith, has been transformed into a temporary chapel until a main church can be built. Will you be our partner in developing more places for the faithful to gather and praise God together?
In Hosanna, Ethiopia, some young men who feel called to a priestly vocation may not have the educational background to enter the seminary. Will you help The Society of St. Peter Apostle support them with grants to The Saint Joseph Pre-Seminary School?
Kingstown, Jamaica is the home of the Saint Joseph Convent School which was in desperate need of a new roof. With your Lenten gift, The Missionary Childhood Association can make more mission schools secure, safe environments in which to learn.
Women in The Ukraine attend vocational training classes at the Saint Josef Educational Center. They learn to sew and take iconography classes from missionary Sisters who receive support from The Propagation of the Faith. Your donation this Lent will sustain classes like these that help women support themselves and their families.
Like Saint Joseph, the men and women who serve our Church as missionaries are called to sustain the worldwide mission of Jesus. This Lent, will you offer your sustenance as well? Will you sacrifice $40 -- a dollar a day until Easter -- to support the work of missionaries? Perhaps you can give a larger gift in honor of the "Josephs" in your life, whether they are named for the saintly man or have his attributes!
Missionaries are waiting for you to answer the call and play "an incomparable role in the history of salvation."
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.