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Deacon-structing World Mission Sunday

Deacon Pedro

Monday, October 18, 2021

Image courtesy of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the U.S.A.
On the second last Sunday of October, the universal Church celebrates World Mission Sunday. Perhaps some of you are familiar with this day as it is common to have a homily that mentions missions, there may be special intentions prayed for missions and missionaries, and maybe, in some of your parishes, there is also a special collection taken for missions and missionaries.
But perhaps you have never heard of the Pontifical Mission Societies and why World Mission Sunday was instituted.
I have written many times about missions and have worked on several projects related to missions and specifically with the Pontifical Mission Societies, and so, if you wish to find out more, I encourage you to check out the links at the end of my post today.
In brief, Pontifical Mission Societies are official papal associations that exist around the world. In Canada, we have two offices: for French Canada in Montreal and for English Canada in Toronto. The societies were instituted in 1922 as “pontifical”, meaning that they are the official missionary arm of the Church that is responsible for the work of evangelization and charitable works. Of course, the societies are also responsible for raising awareness of missions and for raising funds for the poorest mission churches around the world.
There are four Pontifical Mission Societies:
Propagation of the Faith (SPF): This is likely the one you’ve heard of the most. It was founded by Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot, whose beatification will take place in Lyon, France, on May 22, 2022, exactly 200 years from when the society was recognized. It was founded by a group of women who very simply came together to pray for and send funds to the missions. The aim continues today to help all missions that proclaim the Gospel, through prayer and fundraising to support and continue the work of missionaries in the poorest dioceses of the world.
St. Peter the Apostle (SPA): Founded by Jeanne Bigard, its focus is to support the formation of future priests and women and men religious in poor mission countries. Its activity began in 1886 with the goal of encouraging local priestly vocations in mission countries, without which any missionary action would be incomplete. Mainly, its work involves distributing financial aid to support seminaries and novitiates.
Holy Childhood Association (HCA): Some of you outside of English Canada will likely have heard of this society. I grew up with “Infancia Misionera” in most parishes and some Catholic schools in Latin America. It was formed in 1843 by the Bishop of Nancy in France to help children in other countries who were dying without baptism.  After speaking with Pauline Jaricot, the idea of engaging local French children to pray for and donate funds to children in other countries came up. The society’s original motto was “children helping children”. Today, Holy Childhood is present in more than 120 countries, where it supports children’s projects: aid for the education of underprivileged children, the construction of wells or homes for street children, access for children to health care, food, safety, and education.
Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU): Founded in 1916 by Blessed Paolo Manna, PIME, a missionary in Burma, its goal at the time and its mission today is to ensure the animation and formation of all the baptized so that they can take part in the mission. This is the society that is responsible for making sure that you and I are formed and educated with a missionary outlook, which, after all, is what it means to be Church.
World Mission Sunday was created in 1926 by Pope Pius XI as a day of prayer for missions and to collect funds for missionaries around the world through the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Every year, the Holy Father sends a message for this Sunday. This year’s theme is taken from Acts 4:20: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard.”
In the pope’s message, he reminds us that this is the starting point for the mission. We have to share with others the Good News that we have heard. I am reminded of a wonderful analogy shared with me by a missionary priest in Latin America. He said that any time he hears that someone is travelling to his home country, he is always excited to tell them which restaurant they should go visit. And not only which restaurant, but what to order. This is the essence of the mission that we can all relate to: We discovered this great little restaurant and had an excellent dish and we want everyone to know about it! You can read the Holy Father's message here.
It is possible that this Sunday, October 24, there will be no mention of missions or missionaries in your parish. That happens. If so, please make a point of saying a small prayer for all those courageous men and women who have taken seriously Christ’s commission to go to all the nations proclaiming his message. If you are able, visit the website of the Pontifical Mission Societies and make a donation. Your contribution will go a long way to support the missions worldwide.
But more importantly, don’t forget that we are all called to mission: at home, in our schools and workplaces, in our communities – in everything you do, don’t be afraid to speak about what you have seen and heard.
Read more about missions and our call to mission:
Deacon-strucing Mission
Deacon-structing Mission: Advent 1, Advent 2, Advent 3, Advent 4
Deacon-structing Mission: Social Justice
Deacon-structing Mission: An Easy Suggestion
Watch I Am Mission, produced in collaboration with the Pontifical Mission Societies of French Canada.

pedroEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]

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