“The Pontifical Mission Societies were born of young hearts as a means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel to every nation and thus contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth. The prayers and the material aid generously given and distributed through the Pontifical Mission Societies enable the Holy See to ensure that those who are helped in their personal needs can in turn bear witness to the Gospel in the circumstances of their daily lives. No one is so poor as to be unable to give what they have, but first and foremost what they are”. This is what the Holy Father wrote in his Message for World Mission Day 2018, included in a report on October 19, 2018, by Fides News Agency.
Born in churches of ancient Catholic tradition to support the work of the missionaries among non-Christian peoples, the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) have become an institution of the universal Church and of every particular Church. According to the Council, the central role of missionary cooperation must be given to them.
The PMS constitute a single institution which includes four distinct branches. In common they have the main purpose of promoting the missionary and universal spirit within the People of God, through the dissemination of information on missions, the promotion of missionary vocations, the collection and distribution of subsidies to missionaries, their works and the young Churches, encouraging communion with the other Churches for the exchange of goods, aid, and personnel.
Among the characteristics that distinguish the PMS from other organisms of missionary cooperation, is first of all their universality, as they are the Pontifical Societies of the Pope and depend on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. At the same time, they are also the Bishops’ Societies, expressing their universality in the animation and missionary formation addressed to all the Churches and to all the members of the People of God, in the assistance offered equally to all the Churches in mission territories. Their primary purpose is evangelization, a fundamental duty of the Church, not neglecting the concrete participation in the integral human promotion.
The four Pontifical Mission Societies
Propagation of the Faith (POPF)
Founded in Lyon in 1822 through Pauline Marie Jaricot’s intuition and has the task of promoting missionary cooperation in all Christian communities. To this end, together with the collection of aid, it takes care of missionary vocations, education to the missionary spirit, especially in the missionary month of October, and organizes World Mission Day.
St. Peter the Apostle (POSPA)
Founded in Caen by Jeanne and mother Stephanie Bigard in 1889, this Society is concerned with supporting the formation of local clergy in mission churches, as well as that of candidates for religious life, both male and female.
Holy Childhood or Missionary Childhood (POIM)
Founded in 1843 by Mgr. Charles de Forbin Janson, Bishop of Nancy, to educate children in the missionary spirit, interested in the needs of their peers in mission countries, offering prayers and material help.
Pontifical Missionary Union (PUM)
Founded in Italy in 1916 by Blessed Father Paolo Manna, it is committed to the missionary animation of the Pastors and animators of the People of God: priests, men, and women religious, members of secular institutes, committed laymen. The same function is carried out in relation to the other three Societies.