Dear friends of The Pontifical Mission Societies,
It is a pleasure to address these few words to you as the envoy of Pope Francis to the United States. Part of my responsibility is to foster unity and promote the mission of the Church in this great nation. Today, I seek your support and generosity in fulfilling that call.
Throughout my years of service to the Holy See, in various parts of the world, I have witnessed the Church’s transformative work in the lives of individuals, families, and entire communities. The local churches in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Cuba, where I was posted in my early years of service, are sustained to a significant extent by the World Mission Sunday collection. When I was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti in 1995, months after the devastation caused by Hurricane Gordon, I witnessed how the Pontifical Mission Societies came to the assistance of the local dioceses.
In so many regions in our world, where the Church is still rather young or lacking in economic resources, and unable to sustain unaided its vital ministries, the Pontifical Missionary Societies step in to provide much-needed assistance. On the second to last Sunday of October, in every single parish, the World Mission Sunday Collection is held. The offerings of the faithful on that day stand as a testament to the universal nature of our Church and constitute a concrete act of solidarity with our sister Churches in need.
In particular, the generous contributions of the faithful in the United States make it possible for the Pontifical Mission Societies to provide annual subsidies to missionary dioceses, and to directly support mission seminaries and religious formation houses, the education of children in mission schools, the building of chapels and churches, as well as sustaining homes for orphaned children, the elderly and the sick. This support makes possible the proclamation of the Gospel, the celebration of the Sacraments and service to the poor in mission dioceses.
For the first decades of its life, the fledgling Church in the United States received essential support from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith- some seven million dollars until 1908, the equivalent of some $250 million today. Catholics of this country have returned that generosity in abundance. And the missionaries whose stories you will read in these pages, need that continued generosity.
I invite you, my dear brothers and sisters, to embrace the spirit of solidarity and missionary discipleship that beats at the heart of our Church. Let us respond to Pope Francis’ call to be a Church that goes forth, reaching out to the peripheries, both near and far. Together, we can make a difference. Your contributions, no matter the amount, will have a profound impact on the lives of countless individuals and communities. Through your generosity, you become an instrument of God’s love, sharing in the mission of the Church and embodying the spirit of compassion and mercy to which Pope Francis continually calls us. Knowing personally just how much the Missionary Church depends on the generous response of Catholics to the World Mission Sunday appeal, I would ask you to do everything you can to promote its celebration in every parish in the United States.
Archbishop Christophe Pierre*
*Pope Francis has announced that, on September 30, 2023, he will make Archbishop Pierre a cardinal, during a consistory to be held in Rome. We rejoice with and pray for the Nuncio, an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.