Vatican Recognizes 1st Asian Society of Priests

Founded in 1965; Working in 13 Nations

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MANILA, Philippines, FEB. 6, 2009 ( Canonical recognition was given to the Mission Society of the Philippines, the first society of priests founded in Asia, now present in 13 countries.

AsiaNews reported that the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Ivan Dias signed the pontifical decree.

The Missionary Society of the Philippines (MSP) was created in 1965 by the bishops of that country, on the fourth centennial of their nation’s evangelization. Their goal was «to express in the concrete our gratitude to God for the gift of our faith,» sharing it with «the peoples in Asia and the rest of the world,»

With this recognition, made public on Jan. 30 during the seventh general assembly of the MSP, they became a «Society of Apostolic Life for mission ad gentes of Pontifical Right» under the authority of the Holy See rather than the local bishops.

According to its statues, the MSP mission is directed especially to the villages of Asia, to the most de-Christianized zones or where the young Churches need most help.

Another of its objectives is to make Filipino emigrants conscious of their missionary vocation, to help them participate and be instruments of evangelization.

The MSP has more than 70 members working in the Asian countries of Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea, as well as in the United States, Australia, Holland and Great Britain.

In Asia there are five other similar societies, though under the jurisdiction of the local Church: There is another in the Philippines, one each in South Korea and Thailand, and two more in India.

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