The Pontifical Missionary Union was born out of the conviction that the world does not convert, because the Christian people have forgotten their great duty to evangelize
(Blessed Paolo Manna)
From the Gospel According to Matthew
“Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18: 19-20)
From the Gospel According to Luke
“After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” (Lk 10: 1-3)
From the Magisterium of the Catholic Church
“It will be the bishop's task to raise up from among his own people, [...] some souls to offer prayers and penance to God with a wide - open heart for the evangelization of the world. [...] he will promote the works of mission institutes among his own faithful, but most especially the papal mission works [Pontifical Mission Societies].” (Second Vatican. Council, Decree on the Mission Activity on the Church, Ad Gentes, 38)
“…so that the missions will gain as much as possible by it. To accomplish this end, We desire the establishment, in all the dioceses of the Catholic world, of the organization called the Missionary Union of the Clergy. This organization is under the direction of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, and We have given the Congregation all the authorization necessary for its work. The Union was organized a short time ago in Italy, and has rapidly taken root in other places. Its work has Our complete approval, and We have already demonstrated Our pontifical approbation by granting it a number of privileges. With good reason, for the Union’s methods are admirably suited to the task of fostering among the clergy the readiness and ability to instil in Christian hearts a concern for the salvation of the non-Catholic multitudes and to promote the various enterprises that the Holy See has approved as effective channels for assistance to the missions.” (Benedict XV, Apostolic Letter on the Propagation of the Faith throughout the World, Maximum Illud, n. 40)
“In order that this particular work may be joined intimately to the other duties of your pastoral office, see to it that the Missionary Union of the Clergy be established in your diocese, and if this has already been done, encourage the organization by your counsels, your exhortations, and your authority to renewed activity.” (Pius XI, Encyclical Letter on Promoting Catholic Missions, Rerum Ecclesiae, n. 12)
“You no doubt remember how warmly the encyclical Letter Rerum Ecclesiae recommended the Missionary Union of the Clergy, whose object is to unite the combined energy of clergy, secular and regular, and of ecclesiastical students in furthering the cause of the missions in every possible way. Having had the happiness to witness the success of this Union, as We have mentioned, We earnestly desire that it increase and spread ever more widely and arouse both priests and people to work ever more zealously for the cause of the missions. This Union is the source from which depends the succcess of the other Pontifical Societies of the Propagation of the Faith, of St. Peter Apostle for Native Clergy, and of the Holy Childhood.” (Pius XII, Encyclical Letter on Promotion of Catholic Missions, Evangelii Praecones, 14)
“The leading role in this work of promotion belongs to the Pontifical Mission Societies, as I have often pointed out in my Messages for World Mission Day. The four Societies - Propagation of the Faith, St. Peter the Apostle, Holy Childhood and the Missionary Union - have the common purpose of fostering a universal missionary spirit among the People of God. The Missionary Union has as its immediate and specific purpose the promotion of missionary consciousness and formation among priests and men and women religious, who in turn will provide this consciousness and formation within the Christian communities. In addition, the Missionary Union seeks to promote the other Societies, of which it is the ‘soul,’ ‘This must be our motto: All the churches united for the conversion of the whole world.’” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter on the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate, Redemptoris Missio, n. 84)
From the writings of Blessed Father Paolo Manna
“The Union should promote a universal awakening of apostolic zeal and support missionary animation by all means approved by the Church, first among priests and then, through them, among all the Christian people.” (P. Manna, Il problema missionario e i sacerdoti, Rome 1939, p. 46)
“The Union is a hierarchical organization led by the Holy Father, and in the particular Church led by the bishops with the cooperation of priests to spiritually form Christians for the conversion of the whole world to Jesus Christ.” (P. Manna, Il problema missionario e i sacerdoti, Rome 1939, p. 92)
“[According to Fr. Manna] The need for missionary animation of the People of God, through the Missionary Union, came from ignorance of the mission issues he [Fr. Manna] has raised. He was of the opinion that too many Christians had forgotten their vocation and mission as children of God received through baptism: ‘How many Christians remember anymore that every baptized person, made a child of God and a soldier of Jesus Christ, is for that very reason an apostle of the faith? How many know that by the Church is meant not only the Pope with the bishops and priests, but also the faithful are its living and active members? What children are they if they are not interested in the good, in the glory of their Father?’” (P. Manna, La cooperazione cristiana alla conversione del mondo e l’Unione Missionaria del Clero – 1934, in: Scritti, v. 12, p. 9).
“If you cannot go to the missions, however, remember that you always have a duty to have zeal and to promote all works, which are directed to help them and raise them.” (P. Manna, Operarii autem pauci! La vocazione alle missioni estere, Milan 1960, 253)
“Besides the activity of the Union itself, all other works of co operation in the Church in favor of the missions are beginning to receive new life. Already, in many places the Propagation of the Faith and the Holy Childhood are being really organized and put in a flourishing condition.” (P. Manna, The conversion of the pagan world. A Treatise upon Catholic Foreign Missions, translated and adapted from the Italian of rev. Paolo Manna, M. Ap. by rev. Joseph F. McGlinchey, d.d., Boston, Society for the propagation of the Faith 1921, p. 267)
“The world is tired, discouraged and lost. It needs light, it needs peace, it needs guidance. We need faith, we need a universal crusade of fervent prayers, we need much generosity, solicitude and a big heart. We need to respond to this situation with the intelligent and constant cooperation of bishops, priests and all baptized.” (P. Manna, La cooperazione cristiana alla conversione del mondo e l’Unione Missionaria del Clero – 1934, in: Scritti, v. 12, p. 22)
Questions for reflection
- Am I familiar with the Pontifical Mission Societies? Do I visit their website? And Social Media?
- Do I collaborate with the Pontifical Mission Societies? Am I a member of the Pontifical Missionary Union?
- How do I take care of my personal and daily missionary formation?
O God, our Father, who established the Church in Christ as the universal sacrament of salvation, send your Spirit upon those whom you have chosen, that you may arouse in your Church an ardent missionary love. Bless the activities of the Pontifical Missionary Union and grant that its members may continue the missionary formation of priests, religious communities and pastoral leaders with renewed enthusiasm.
Mary, Queen of the Apostles and of the missions, strengthen those who dedicate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel message and planting the Church in the heart of the world. Amen.
St. John Paul II