Supporting the education of candidates for the Catholic priesthood in the Developing World
In 1889, mother and daughter — Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard — answered a desperate plea for help from the Missions. The French missionary bishop of Nagazaki, Japan wrote to the two women asking for help to keep his seminary open because he had run out of the funds necessary to help educate these young men to serve their people as priests.
The bishop just did not have the funds to train these young Japanese men whom, he judged, would make excellent priests. The Bigards came to his assistance and started a small group for this purpose in their native Caen, France. From these humble beginnings emerged the Society of St. Peter Apostle. Within five years of sending their first donation to Japan, the Bigards, and those whom they enlisted to help, were sending funds to seminaries in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Korea and China.
The goal of the Society of St. Peter then and now has been to invite individuals to support the education of candidates for the Catholic priesthood in the Developing World and to support the formation of men and women candidates for the Religious life in the Missions. In its first year, the Society of St. Peter Apostle sent help for some 2,700 seminarians in the Missions. Today, some 30,000 major seminarians, mostly in Africa and Asia, receive an annual subsidy of $700 per student.
Q. Once ordained, where do these priests serve?
A. Very often, priests ordained in the Missions will serve in the very dioceses where they were born and raised. Others are asked by the ordinary (bishop) of their dioceses to serve in other areas of their native countries or in other dioceses throughout the world — even in the United States.
Q. How can I help the Society of St. Peter Apostle?
A. You can offer your prayers and personal sacrifices for the growth of mission vocations. You can also help young men as they prepare for the priesthood through the Society of St. Peter Apostle with a donation of $700 for a year of studies. A gift of $300 will help toward the formation of men and women novices preparing for a life of service as Religious Brothers and Sisters.
Q. May I sponsor an individual seminarian or novice through the Society of St. Peter Apostle?
A. Contributions to the Society of St. Peter Apostle are allocated to seminaries and seminarians in mission dioceses throughout the world according to need, with certain help offered to each seminary by the number of students there. This system of allocating funds helps ensure that aid is distributed fairly and that those who are most desperately in need receive enough support.