The Catholic Church calls the faithful to be ‘at mission’

Want to become a missionary without leaving your home or office? People who donate to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith are only a few steps away from making a difference in their shared faith with someone on the other side of the world.

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith provides financial support to the Catholic Church’s pastoral and evangelizing programs in Africa, Asia, Pacific islands, remote parts of Latin America, and home missions in the United States. Its mission is to inform Catholics of the life and needs of the church in areas that need financial help to maintain the work of the church, and to encourage prayer for that work.

Catholics worldwide fund the society through annual October collections, individual parish efforts, and direct donations. The society operates under the direction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, based in Rome, and the Catholic bishops.

Donations to the society provide funds and/or goods to aid the education and support of seminarians, religious novices and lay catechists; the work of religious communities in education, health care and social services; communication and transportation needs; and disaster and emergency relief as those situations arise.

In the past, the Diocese of Charleston was considered a home mission and received funds from the society.

During World Mission Sunday talks and beatifications in 2000, Pope John Paul II said that announcing Christ was a duty of every Christian, not just missionaries. He said that it is a task that should flow naturally from one’s faith, an enthusiasm that comes from contemplating the figure of Jesus. The pope said that a life of holiness and a burning desire to bring the faith to others are key elements of our mission.

Msgr. Edward Lofton, pastor of St. Theresa the Little Flower in Summerville and director of the society’s efforts in South Carolina, cites Vatican II in saying that the church is not fully church unless it is at mission.

“The Society for the Propagation of the Faith is a way that everyone can be at mission and spreading the word of God,” he said. “Other people helped us, now it’s more than fair that we help others.”

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith was founded in Lyons, France, in 1822 by Pauline Jaricot. She was inspired by stories about missionary work in China and felt called to help the church’s worldwide missionary work. From this idea emerged the Propagation of the Faith.

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith is one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies, including the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, and the Holy Childhood Association.

The Holy Childhood Association is active in approximately 110 countries. It was founded in France in 1843 by Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson and is designed to inspire a universal missionary spirit in the young and to support services of the local churches of Africa, Asia, remote regions of Latin America and the Pacific Islands — areas where the poorest of the world’s children live.

The Society of St. Peter the Apostle encourages prayer and financial help for vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the missions. The society invites individuals to support the education of candidates for the Catholic priesthood in the developing world and to support the formation of men and women candidates for the religious life in the missions.

Parishes and missions that need assistance apply by letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. In the Diocese of Charleston, Msgr. Lofton reviews applications with a volunteer board. The diocese actively supports mission areas, including Nigeria and India, that send priests to South Carolina.

To become an active missionary with the Propagation of the Faith, contribute on World Mission Sunday, Oct. 23, or contact Msgr. Lofton at (843) 875-5002, or propagation@sttheresachurch