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September 17, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 23

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Children at St. Anthony’s Mission Center, Shimulia, Bangladesh which is home to 45 children who receive an education, as well as food, clothing and shelter. The Sisters work there to give the children loving care. Money from the Missionary Childhood Association was used to provide beds for the children who had previously slept on the floor.
Children at St. Anthony’s Mission Center, Shimulia, Bangladesh which is home to 45 children who receive an education, as well as food, clothing and shelter. The Sisters work there to give the children loving care. Money from the Missionary Childhood Association was used to provide beds for the children who had previously slept on the floor.

What is the Propagation of the Faith?

I f I had been asked “What is the Propagation of the Faith?” before last December, I would not have been able to give much of an answer.

On December 8, 2011 Bishop DiLorenzo appointed me Director of the Propagation of the Faith for our Diocese. Since then, I have learned much more about this important work which helps so many people.

The Propagation of the Faith, as part of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Universal Church, seeks to bring the Gospel to all in the world.

We are called to be a missionary people. Each person is called to support the work of the Church in fulfilling this mission. Very few of us will actually go on a mission trip but we all can participate.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. One of the documents of the Council was “Ad Gentes, On the Mission Activity of the Church” which was promulgated December 7, 1965.

In the beginning of the document this statement is made, “The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father.”

On the 25th anniversary of “Ad Gentes” (Dec. 7, 1990) Pope John Paul II issued “Redemptorist Mission” on the permanent validity of the church’s missionary mandate. In that document he stated that “faith is strengthened when it is given to others.”

It goes on to say, “The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion. As the second millennium after Christ’s coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service.”

This year on January 6 Pope Benedict XVI wrote a message for World Mission Day 2012. In it he said, “I remember and thank the Pontifical Mission Societies, instruments for cooperation in the universal mission of the Church across the world.

“Through their action, the proclamation of the Gospel also becomes an intervention on behalf of one’s neighbour, justice for the poorest, the possibility of education in the most remote villages, medical aid in isolated places, emancipation from poverty, the rehabilitation of the marginalized, support for the development of peoples, overcoming ethnic divisions, and respect for life in all its stages.”

There are four Pontifical Mission Societies — the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of Saint Peter Apostle, the Missionary Childhood Association and the Pontifical Missionary Union.

Three of these Societies — Propagation of the Faith, Missionary Children Association and Society of St. Peter Apostle — seek prayer, sacrifice and financial support for the Church’s missionary work, and provide ongoing monetary help for the pastoral and evangelization programs of the Church in Africa, Asia, the islands of the Pacific and remote regions of Latin America.

This includes aid for the education and support of seminarians, Religious novices and lay catechists; for the work of Religious Communities in education, health care and social services; for communication and transportation needs, for disaster and emergency relief, when necessary and for the Church’s ministry to children.

The Missionary Union of Priests and Religious is a spiritual apostolate that helps deepen a missionary spirit among priests and Religious men and women, catechists and educators who in turn help animate the faithful. I invite you to go to the following website to learn more, www.onefamilyinmission.org.

Deacon Bob Griffin is assigned at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Richmond. He can be reached at bgriffin@richmonddiocese.org.At the present time there are two primary tasks for the office of the Propagation of the Faith in our Diocese. The first is to coordinate the Mission Cooperative Program.

Here small mission parishes in rural areas are matched with larger host parishes to share their story and ask parishioners for financial help. Many of you have contributed most generously to this effort and we are grateful for your support.

The other primary task of the office is promotion of the work in the missions and its financial support. This is done with the national office of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith which solicits help for the missions through three mail campaigns at Easter, in the summer and at Christmas.

The major support comes from a national collection on World Mission Sunday which is on the third Sunday of October, this year October 21. In our Diocese this collection is combined with two other national collections for Black and Indian Missions and U. S. Home Missions (both very worthy causes).

Please include the missions and those who labor to bring the Gospel message to the entire world in your prayers. Please consider how you might support this work financially.

If you want to participate, consider getting on the mailing list to receive information about the missions and opportunities to contribute. You can do this by going to the website mentioned above or you can contact me and we will see that you are included on our mailing list.

Thank you for your prayers and for whatever support you can give.

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