Pontifical Mission Societies
General Questions and Society for the Propagation of the Faith
•What are the Pontifical Mission Societies?
The Pontifical Mission Societies consist of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious.
•What do these organizations do?
The Pontifical Mission Societies have, as their primary purpose, the promotion of a universal missionary spirit — a spirit of prayer and sacrifice — among all baptized Catholics. The first three Societies, in carrying out that goal, invite baptized Catholics to express their Missionary commitment by offering their prayers, personal sacrifices and financial support for the work of the Church in the Missions. The Missionary Union of Priests and Religious works to deepen mission awareness among priests, men and women Religious, catechists, and educators so that they are fully prepared to take on the mission formation of the faithful.
• What does the term “pontifical” mean?
The four Societies each received the title “pontifical” in 1922 to indicate their status as official instruments of the Holy Father and of the Universal Roman Catholic Church.
• Where are the Pontifical Mission Societies located?
National offices exist in more than 120 countries around the world including the United States. Central administrative offices are located in Rome, Italy, under the direction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Cardinal Ivan Dias is the Prefect of the Congregation.
The national office of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States is located in New York City (366 Fifth Avenue). The national director is Monsignor John E. Kozar. In addition, every diocese in the United States has a diocesan director who is appointed by the local ordinary (bishop) of that diocese.
• What makes the Pontifical Mission Societies unique from other mission organizations?
According to the teaching of Vatican Council II, the Pontifical Mission Societies are institutions of the Universal Church and of each local church. Therefore, unlike any other Mission organization, the Pontifical Mission Societies are both Pontifical and Episcopal in nature. And, as such, the Pontifical Mission Societies are recognized as the principal instrument for educating the faithful to an awareness of the Church’s universal Mission and for encouraging their support, in prayer and sacrifice, for the evangelizing mission of the Church among two-thirds of the human family.
• How can I help the Missions of the world through the Pontifical Mission Societies?
All baptized Catholics have the opportunity to participate in the worldwide Mission of the Church by offering their prayers, personal sacrifices or financial contributions to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association or the Society of St. Peter Apostle. The Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. is a spiritual apostolate for Priests, Religious men and women, catechists and lay people. Each year, the celebration of World Mission Sunday provides an opportunity, within the context of the Eucharist, for Catholics to express their prayerful and financial support of the Church’s worldwide Missionary work and the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in particular.
•What is World Mission Sunday?
World Mission Sunday is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church's Missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice. Annually, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the next-to-last Sunday in October. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings from Catholics around the globe and distributed to mission dioceses — about 1,100 at this time.
•Our parish has a special relationship with another parish in the Developing World. I help to support this relationship through financial contributions and volunteer work. Do I still need to support the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies?
Forms of direct cooperation between churches, also called “twinning” can be of great benefit to a parish in the Developing World and provide parishioners of the “sister” church in the United States with great spiritual fulfillment. This one-on-one relationship works best to the degree that it broadens the vision of Catholics here to see the universal needs of the mission Church. Care should be taken not to limit one’s range of action to one objective so as to safeguard the principal of universal equity in the distribution of funds.
• A priest from India just visited my parish. During his homily, he asked for help for his diocese. Does the money I offer during this special collection get sent to the Pontifical Mission Societies?
Very often, priests and Religious men and women visit the United States (often in the summer months) to seek prayer and financial support for the work of their dioceses or Religious Communities in the Missions. These parish appeals are coordinated in dioceses by the Pontifical Mission Societies director as part of the Missionary Cooperation Plan [click here for more information] GO TO MISSION COOP PAGE. The money collected in your parish in response to such a visit/appeal is given directly to the Missionary for use in his/her Diocese or by his/her Religious Congregation. This help would be in addition to any help offered by the Pontifical Mission Societies themselves, which is sometimes the case, particularly for a Mission diocese.
• How are my donations distributed to the Missions?
Offerings from Catholics in the United are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith from Catholics worldwide. Mission dioceses receive regular annual assistance from the funds collected. This grant of help is provided according to a diocese's size. In addition, these Mission dioceses submit requests to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for assistance for, among other needs, catechetical programs, seminaries, the work of Religious Communities, communication and transportation needs, and the building of chapels and churches. These needs are then matched with the funds gathered in each year. The world's national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies vote on these requests, matching the funds available with the greatest of needs for help. These funds are then distributed to Mission dioceses throughout the world, directly from the country in which that help was raised. All of the General Fund of support is distributed in its entirety each year.
• I would like to serve as a Lay Missionary. What should I do?
There are a number of local and national organizations that help “connect” lay Catholics to Mission opportunities in the United States and abroad. Contact the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Pontifical Mission Societies office [click here] for more information.
Pontifical Mission Societies
Missionary Childhood Association
•How does MCA differ from other organizations helping children in the Developing World?
MCA is unique to other organizations that assist children in the Developing World in that its primary aim is to encourage children to share their faith with children in the Developing World through their prayers, personal sacrifices and financial offerings.
•Does MCA help only Catholic children?
MCA cares for children regardless of their religious affiliation.
•Why doesn't MCA participate in sponsoring individual children or families?
Contributions to MCA are allocated to Mission dioceses throughout the world according to need. This system of allocating funds helps ensure that aid is distributed fairly and that those who are most desperately in need receive enough support. MCA funds are distributed to help children in 110 countries throughout the world.
•How are contributions to MCA distributed?
Once each year, National Directors of the world’s Pontifical Mission Societies meet in Rome to review requests for funding from Mission dioceses throughout the world. All Mission dioceses receive an ordinary subsidy based on the total amount of money available from MCA’s general fund. Sometimes, Mission dioceses ask for additional funds to help support such projects as building schools or orphanages or buying books and medical supplies. Grants made in response to these requests are known as extraordinary subsidies. These extraordinary subsidies are also allocated based on need. Once provided, the bishop of each Mission diocese that receives this aid administers the funds, and send reports to MCA national offices to describe in detail how the funds are being used to help children. Funds collected in the United States are distributed directly to the Missions. No money is sent to Rome.
•How much of my child’s contribution is used to support the work of the Church in the Missions?
Eighty-four percent of MCA's annual funding in the United States is used for the Church’s service among children in the Developing World. The remaining funds are used to provide Mission education materials to children in the United States.
•Who participates in MCA programs in the United States?
Annually, more than two million young people, kindergarten through eighth grade, participate in MCA sponsored programs in the United States through Catholic schools and parish religious education programs.
•Why should my child participate in MCA?
All young Catholics have a baptismal responsibility to make Jesus Christ and His love known to others. MCA helps young people understand the universal nature of the Catholic Church and recognize that they are Missionaries today, in prayer and sacrifice, reaching out to children in the missions.
•How do children raise money for MCA?
Some children work in groups sponsoring walkathons, raffles, talent shows, car washes or other creative events to raise money for their brothers and sisters in need. Some children make substantial personal sacrifices by sending money to MCA that they received for mowing lawns or babysitting; others share their allowances or birthday gift money.
•What else can children do to help the Missions?
Children can offer their prayers in support of Missionaries and the work of the Church in the Missions.