The annual Membership Sunday for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith serves to remind us that the Church is missionary by its nature; that two-thirds of the world do not know Christ and His saving love; and that by our Baptism, we are all missionaries, whether we actually travel abroad or support the missions at home through prayer and sacrifice.
In this annual collection, the faithful of the Diocese of Harrisburg generously provide support to missionaries worldwide, with contributions averaging more than $135,000 each year. The SPOF, under the direction of the Holy Father, then distributes these contributions to mission dioceses and missionary organizations that endeavor to bring the Good News to everyone.
It is the ultimate goal for young missions dioceses to eventually become self-sufficient, so that they may be removed from missionary status and take up the work of evangelizing the Gospel in new territories.
The dangers that missionaries face in the field are real and ever-present. Agenzia Fides, Vatican news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies, publishes an annual report listing the number of missionaries killed in the previous year. In 2016, 28 Catholic pastoral care workers were killed, including 14 priests, 9 religious women, 1 seminarian, and 4 lay catechists. From 2000 to 2016, the total number of pastoral care workers who were killed worldwide is 424, including 5 bishops.
Missionaries administer sacraments, help the poor, take care of orphans and drug addicts, participate in development projects, or simply open the door of their home to anyone. Fides reports that the majority were killed in attempted robbery. In some cases they were violently attacked, a sign of a climate of moral decline and economic and cultural poverty which generates violence and disregard for human life. Some are murdered by the same people whom they help.
Added to the annual report by Fides is the long list of the many of whom we may never hear about but who, in every corner of the planet, suffer and pay with their lives because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Because of your sacrifice on SPOF Membership Sunday, missionaries around the world tirelessly continue in their efforts of Bringing the Good News to Everyone.
For more information:
Office of Pontifical Missions,
Diocese of Harrisburg
4800 Union Deposit Road, Harrisburg PA 17111
717-657-4804, ext. 240 www.hbgdiocese.org/missions
Reverend Robert F. Sharman, Diocesan Director