Keeping the mission in mind

COLUMBIA—No matter where they live, Catholics are called to spread the Gospel around the world to people in need. The Pontifical Mission Societies exist to help answer that call.

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and Oblate Father Andrew Small, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, shared that message on April 9 at a small reception held at St. Peter Church. The event focused on the organization’s purpose and work overseas.

The Pontifical Mission Societies ( include the Society for Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. All of the groups raise funds to help with evangelization, education, and support for the Church’s work in more than 1,150 missionary dioceses internationally. A special collection for the societies is held annually on World Mission Sunday, which is Oct. 18 this year.

In the Diocese of Charleston, Msgr. Edward D. Lofton, pastor of St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville, is director of Propagation of the Faith and the Holy Childhood Association.

Bishop Guglielmone reminded people at the reception that the Diocese of Charleston was once a mission locale too, and in its early years was served by priests and women religious from other places. He encouraged South Carolinians to pay it forward.

“We have to continue to give outside the diocese and look beyond the diocesan level,” he said. “We can’t ever forget that we are part of a larger Church with an international ministry.”

Father Small spoke particularly on Mater Ecclesiae College in Rome, which educates women religious in leadership, theology and other subjects so they can effectively minister to the poor and others in their home countries.

Currently, 113 sisters from nations as diverse as Rwanda, Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt and Peru study at the college.

Mary Anne Hess, who attends St. Joseph Church in Columbia, enjoyed learning about the Pontifical Missions’ different projects around the world, especially Mater Ecclesiae College.

“I think it’s wonderful that they’re trying to help the sisters be more effective in the way they do their work,” Hess said. “After their studies in Rome, they’ll be able to go back and be more effective in what Pope Francis is telling us all to do. They’re learning to be better evangelizers.”