MISSION Magazine Spring 2024

In this issue, we focus on the Catholic Church in #Malawi, which much like many other mission territories in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, has been significantly shaped by the spiritual and financial support flowing through TPMS. This- YOUR- support has been a cornerstone in establishing churches, schools, health clinics, and various social service infrastructures.

In this issue, we focus on the Catholic Church in #Malawi, which much like many other mission territories in Africa, Asia, and Latin America,
has been significantly shaped by the spiritual and financial support flowing through TPMS. This- YOUR- support has been a cornerstone in establishing churches, schools, health clinics, and various social service infrastructures.


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THE PONTIFICAL <strong>MISSION</strong><br />


SPRING <strong>2024</strong><br />

HERE I AM,<br />


In this issue<br />

A Letter from the Secretary of the Society<br />

for the Propagation of the Faith<br />

02<br />

The Pontifical Mission<br />

Societies USA<br />

Shhhh. Let me tell you a secret<br />

From Missio:<br />

Though the Mountains May Fall<br />

From the Dioceses:<br />

‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’<br />

Society for the Propagation of The Faith:<br />

For Cardinal Tobin, his missionary vocation<br />

began as an altar boy<br />

07<br />

10<br />

16<br />

20<br />








<strong>MISSION</strong> SOCIETIES IN<br />







Missionary Childhood Association:<br />

“What’s your favorite subject?”<br />

23<br />

The Missionary Union:<br />

The Real-Life Miracle Workers of Chisombezi<br />

30<br />

From Missio:<br />

Amidst War and Earthquake, Syria’s Struggle,<br />

and the Church’s Beacon of Hope<br />

34<br />

Making a Personal Connection with the<br />

Global Church<br />

The Fulton Sheen Legacy Society Part 2<br />

Editor’s Note<br />

Learn more<br />

about us<br />

38<br />

41<br />

48<br />

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indicating correct one, to<br />

Circulation Dept., <strong>MISSION</strong><br />

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New York, NY. 10018<br />

(212) 563-8700<br />

Visit us at our home on the web:<br />

www.OneFamilyInMission.org<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

follow us at @TPMS_USA<br />

We welcome your ongoing feedback and<br />

your “letters to the editor,” ever grateful<br />

for your prayers and help. If you prefer<br />

to send an “email to the editor,” you can<br />

send it to<br />


3<br />

A Letter from the Secretary of<br />

the Society for the Propagation<br />

of the Faith<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

On the Feast of St. Joseph in 2022,<br />

Pope Francis issued “Praedicate<br />

Evangelium,” an apostolic<br />

constitution that reformed the Roman<br />

Curia. To show that evangelization<br />

must be at the heart of all that the<br />

Church does, the Constitution did<br />

this in two ways. First, of the sixteen<br />

dicasteries (formerly congregations),<br />

the newly named “Dicastery for<br />

Evangelization” is listed first, thus<br />

showing its primacy in all the<br />

works of the Church. Second, the<br />

constitution names the Holy Father<br />

himself as the prefect of this dicastery<br />

(with the day-to-day running of the<br />

dicastery handed over to two proprefects).<br />

With the pope himself as<br />

the titular head of this dicastery, this<br />

too demonstrates powerfully that the<br />

spread of the Gospel should be of<br />

vital importance to the whole Church,<br />

from Rome to the ends (peripheries)<br />

of the earth.<br />

With the Church’s renewed<br />

commitment to evangelization in<br />

mind, I embarked on the December<br />

mission trip to Malawi with both<br />

enthusiasm and excitement. My joy<br />

was further deepened as I was not<br />

making this journey alone but rather<br />

with Mark Poletunow and Maggie<br />

Murray (TPMS-National Office),<br />

Maureen Heil (TPMS-Archdiocese<br />

of Boston), and Antoinette Mensah<br />

(TPMS-Archdiocese of Milwaukee).<br />

Upon our arrival in Malawi’s capital,<br />

Lilongwe, we were warmly welcomed<br />

by Father Vincent Mwakhwawa, the<br />

TPMS National Director, and Father<br />

Peter Madeya, the TPMS Director<br />

for the Diocese of Dedza. (Since our<br />

visit late last year, Father Vincent was<br />

ordained an auxiliary bishop for the<br />

Archdiocese of Lilongwe, and Father<br />

Peter was named the new national<br />

director.)<br />

In addition to greeting us, Father<br />

Vincent had planned a full but<br />

invigorating schedule of visits over<br />

the next six days to a whole host of<br />

places, including parishes, schools,<br />

and charitable institutions, all of<br />

which have been supported by<br />

Propagation of the Faith, Missionary<br />

Childhood Association, and the<br />

Priestly Society of St. Peter. At each of<br />

these visits, we saw the work of the<br />

local church transforming lives and<br />

giving hope to those in need thanks<br />

to the strong hands and generous<br />

hearts of dedicated priests, religious,<br />

and laypeople.<br />

While it is tempting to want<br />

to describe in detail each of the<br />

interesting places we visited and the<br />

welcoming people we met, I will limit<br />

myself to the first and last as these<br />

not only bookended our experiences<br />

but also in many ways encapsulated

4<br />

5<br />

the whole trip. Our first stop was at<br />

St. John’s Catholic Primary School<br />

in Lilongwe. Founded sixty years<br />

ago and built by a donation from the<br />

Missionary Childhood Association<br />

(MCA), the school continues to be<br />

supported by MCA. Amazingly it<br />

enrolls close to 5,000 students (in<br />

split sessions) and has a faculty of<br />

69 teachers. While the school enrolls<br />

children of all religious backgrounds,<br />

the student body is about 18%<br />

Catholic. In addition to visiting<br />

several classrooms where we saw the<br />

strong Catholic education in action<br />

helping to transform these young and<br />

promising lives, we also witnessed<br />

the deep need of the children and the<br />

school.<br />

In some of the lower grades’<br />

classrooms, the children were forced<br />

to sit on the floor for lack of desks,<br />

and class sizes were well over forty<br />

students. In other places around the<br />

school, we sadly saw walls chipping<br />

away and roofs sagging or with<br />

holes poking through. While the<br />

government pays a modest salary to<br />

each of the teachers, it does not give<br />

any support to capital improvements<br />

or new construction. For needs such<br />

as these, St. John’s (and all the other<br />

Catholic schools in Malawi) must<br />

turn to groups such as the Pontifical<br />

Mission Societies, especially MCA.<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office<br />

Photos by Margaret Murray<br />

While our support continues, clearly<br />

much more is needed.<br />

We saw a similar situation during<br />

our visit to the Chisombezi Center<br />

in Blantyre, a residential school for<br />

children with multiple disabilities<br />

run by a local congregation of women<br />

religious, the Servants of the Blessed<br />

Virgin Mary. While these Sisters<br />

and their lay colleagues do amazing<br />

work caring for and educating<br />

these children, many of whom are<br />

deaf and blind, the need for regular<br />

maintenance and modernization of<br />

the buildings remains critical.<br />

We began the last day of our trip<br />

with a visit to the Church in Malawi<br />

with an early morning Mass at a<br />

Poor Clare monastery. Founded in<br />

1959 by French nuns, this convent is<br />

now composed of all African women<br />

and is situated on the grounds of<br />

the cathedral which is also where<br />

the archbishop lives. In many ways,<br />

concluding our mission trip in<br />

prayer was a perfect way to end<br />

our visit as we were able to raise up<br />

to the Lord all the people we had<br />

met, as well as their needs, in both<br />

thanks and supplication. And the<br />

setting in which we did this could<br />

not have been more beautiful and<br />

appropriate. Designed and crafted by<br />

local artisans using wood and other<br />

materials native to Africa, the nuns’

6<br />

7<br />

chapel contained images of both<br />

Saints Francis and Clare depicted<br />

with African features and placed in<br />

a setting very reminiscent of rural<br />

Malawi. While most of the Mass was<br />

in English, the first reading and some<br />

of the hymns sung by the nuns were<br />

in Chichewa, the language spoken<br />

by most Malawians. In addition, one<br />

of the Poor Clare’s gently played a<br />

drum to accompany our singing. All<br />

the elements, as well as the deeply<br />

reverent presence of the nuns, helped<br />

to make this liturgy most moving and<br />

prayerful.<br />

After Mass, we met with the nuns<br />

to share the story of our visit and to<br />

hear some words from the Reverend<br />

Mother as to how they see their<br />

vocation of prayer and penance to be<br />

very much at the service of the Church<br />

as well as for the sanctification of<br />

their souls. On our way to the airport<br />

following this, we all agreed that<br />

both this Mass and the visit with the<br />

Sisters were a moment we would not<br />

soon forget.<br />

While it has been several months<br />

now since our trip to Malawi, I think<br />

often of the many people we met, the<br />

vitality of the local Church, as well as<br />

her great need. As you read through<br />

this issue of Mission <strong>Magazine</strong>, may<br />

these stories and images be both<br />

an inspiration to your faith and a<br />

challenge to continue to pray for and<br />

support the Church in Malawi and<br />

wherever else the Church is young,<br />

poor, or persecuted.<br />

Father Anthony Andreassi<br />

National Secretary of the Society<br />

for the Propagation of the Faith.<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

Shhhh. Let Me Tell You a Secret<br />

Bishop Vincent Mwakwhawa*<br />

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ<br />

in the USA,<br />

As I pen this letter from the<br />

heart of Malawi, now serving as<br />

Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese<br />

of Lilongwe, my mind goes back to<br />

a pivotal moment in my priesthood:<br />

Being appointed as National Director<br />

of The Pontifical Mission Societies<br />

(TPMS). Until then, I had a vague<br />

idea of what the Societies did and<br />

represented, but through handover<br />

notes and reading various loose

8 9<br />

materials that were in the office, I<br />

realized I had been introduced to the<br />

Church’s best-kept secret.<br />

Reflecting on this experience, I am<br />

reminded of the parable in Luke 15:<br />

8-10, where a woman lights a lamp<br />

and diligently searches for a lost coin<br />

until she finds it. Once found, she calls<br />

her friends and neighbors to share in<br />

her joy. In many ways, discovering<br />

the depth and impact of TPMS was<br />

akin to finding that precious coin.<br />

The work of TPMS, in its quiet yet<br />

profound influence, is like the candle<br />

in the parable, illuminating the path<br />

to sharing the Gospel, and in doing<br />

so, changing lives.<br />

The Church in Malawi, much<br />

like many other mission territories<br />

in Africa, Asia, and Latin America,<br />

has been significantly shaped by<br />

the spiritual and financial support<br />

flowing through TPMS. This support<br />

has been a cornerstone in establishing<br />

churches, schools, health clinics, and<br />

various social service infrastructures.<br />

It is remarkable to think that the<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

Church in the United States, itself a<br />

beneficiary of TPMS in its early years,<br />

has become a major contributor to<br />

our growth.<br />

Your contributions, dear friends<br />

in the USA, have been a lifeline<br />

to our community. Through your<br />

generosity, we have witnessed the<br />

spread of the Gospel and the tangible<br />

manifestation of Christ’s love in<br />

Malawi. Every mission-driven<br />

project here, from rural health clinics<br />

combating diseases like malaria to<br />

schools educating future leaders,<br />

has been fueled by your prayers and<br />

financial sacrifices.<br />

In my new role as Auxiliary<br />

Bishop, I carry with me the lessons<br />

learned from my TPMS experience. I<br />

see more clearly the crucial need for<br />

ongoing support and awareness of<br />

TPMS’s mission. As we continue to<br />

face challenges like poverty, disease,<br />

and the need for quality education,<br />

support from TPMS becomes ever<br />

more vital.<br />

Your involvement, dear brothers<br />

and sisters in Christ, transcends<br />

geographical boundaries. It is a<br />

testament to the universal call to<br />

mission we all share as baptized<br />

Christians. Your prayers and generous<br />

gifts are not just acts of charity; they<br />

are acts of faith that reverberate<br />

across continents, bringing hope and<br />

transformation.<br />

For over a decade as National<br />

Director of TPMS in Malawi, I<br />

witnessed first-hand how the<br />

support from TPMS, fueled by the<br />

generosity of Catholics like you in<br />

the United States, has been a beacon<br />

of hope and transformation. From<br />

the construction of churches to the<br />

establishment of schools and health<br />

clinics, the aid from TPMS has been<br />

a cornerstone in not just building<br />

infrastructure but also in nurturing<br />

faith and community.<br />

The journey of the Church in<br />

Malawi, supported by TPMS, is a<br />

testament to the power of collective<br />

prayer, financial sacrifices, and<br />

unwavering faith. It is awe-inspiring<br />

to see how our parishes, our schools,<br />

and our clinics stand as physical<br />

manifestations of the Gospel, serving<br />

not just our Catholic community but<br />

all who seek refuge, knowledge, and<br />

healing.<br />

As I embrace my new role as<br />

Auxiliary Bishop, this ‘best-kept<br />

secret’ of the Church is something I<br />

am committed to sharing everywhere.<br />

For it is through TPMS that the love<br />

and solidarity of the global Catholic<br />

community are most tangibly<br />

expressed. Your support through<br />

TPMS is not merely a donation; it is<br />

a sharing of the very treasure of our<br />

faith, akin to spreading the light of<br />

the Gospel in places where hope and<br />

guidance are most needed.<br />

This mission, to bring the light of<br />

Christ to every corner of the world,<br />

is more crucial now than ever. In a<br />

world marred by poverty, injustice,<br />

and despair, the Church stands as a<br />

beacon of hope and salvation. You,<br />

dear friends in the United States,<br />

through your support of TPMS, are<br />

an integral part of this mission.<br />

In closing, I want to thank you<br />

once again, American Catholics, for<br />

sharing your faith with us. Most of<br />

you have not met us, and would say,<br />

some of you until today had never<br />

thought of us. But you have been the<br />

extended hand sharing the love of<br />

Christ with us.<br />

Know that you are in my prayers,<br />

and that we are united in the mission<br />

of Christ,<br />

Bishop Vincent Mwakhwawa<br />

*The author is the Auxiliary Bishop of the<br />

Archdiocese of Lilongwe. Between 2013 and<br />

2023, he also served as the National Director<br />

of The Pontifical Mission Societies Malawi.

10 11<br />

From Missio:<br />

Though the Mountains May Fall*<br />

By Margaret Murray<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray

12 13<br />

“On the fifth night of rain, we<br />

were sitting in the parish hall<br />

when an unholy sound came from<br />

the mountain. It sounded like the<br />

wrath of God was coming to meet<br />

us: I’ve never heard anything so<br />

loud in my life. A few moments<br />

later, parishioners came running in<br />

to tell us half of the village had just<br />

been swept away near the bridge,”<br />

recalled Fr. Vincent Matewere, visibly<br />

shaken as he recounted that night in<br />

March 2023.<br />

He stood in front of a vast, rocky<br />

landscape that once was a village<br />

market and hydro-power plant.<br />

Boulders over 15 feet in diameter lay<br />

strewn across the field, while the river<br />

that once roared under the bridge,<br />

just a few yards away, was reduced<br />

to a small stream as the waters were<br />

redirected a few miles away. The<br />

bridge, the only road connecting<br />

the villages to the rest of civilization<br />

within the 3 miles from where we<br />

stood to the Mozambique border, was<br />

obliterated. We stood at the edge of<br />

civilization: no vehicle had been able<br />

to travel past that point in an entire<br />

year, leaving countless people cut off<br />

from the rest of the world.<br />

In the span of six days, Cyclone<br />

Freddy dropped six months’ worth<br />

of rain upon the southern region<br />

of Malawi in torrential downpours<br />

that wreaked havoc on the lives of<br />

hundreds of thousands of people<br />

– wiping out their homes, a year’s<br />

worth of crops ready for harvesting,<br />

and entire communities that lived at<br />

the base of Mount Mulanje, Malawi’s<br />

tallest mountain. The scars of<br />

enormous mudslides that thundered<br />

down the mountain miles away are<br />

still visible from the handful of homes<br />

that survived the wave of rocks and<br />

mud.<br />

With no power, or means of<br />

transportation, and the remains of<br />

their small brick homes completely<br />

buried under feet of rocks and dirt,<br />

the Muloza Parish, Fr. Vincent’s<br />

parish at the time, was the city on a<br />

hill for the people of the Phalombe<br />

district at the foot of the mountains.<br />

Having miraculously been spared<br />

in the mudslides, over 150 families<br />

came to stay on the unscathed parish<br />

grounds in the aftermath – seeking<br />

shelter, food, and medical attention at<br />

the parish hospital. It took weeks for<br />

roads to be cleared enough for trucks<br />

to bring medical supplies out to the<br />

parish, over a two-and-a-half-hour<br />

drive outside of the city of Blantyre.<br />

The Pontifical Mission Societies<br />

(TPMS) were among the first to bring<br />

aid and support to the parish after the<br />

storm.<br />

When our delegation of members<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photos by Margaret Murray

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

14 15<br />

**The Pontifical Mission Societies USA, through its crowdfunding platform Missio, has raised over $35,000<br />

of relief funds for Malawi following Cyclone Freddy. You can find this project, and many others, at<br />

www.missio.org.<br />

from TPMS-USA and TPMS-Malawi<br />

visited Muloza on Dec. 8, the Feast<br />

of the Immaculate Conception, the<br />

destruction of the storm nine months<br />

prior was silencing. But the people<br />

of the parish reminded us of Isaiah<br />

54:10:<br />

“For the mountains may depart<br />

and the hills be removed,<br />

but my steadfast love shall not<br />

depart from you,<br />

and my covenant of peace shall<br />

not be removed,<br />

says the Lord, who has<br />

compassion on you.”<br />

Despite the widespread<br />

devastation, a beacon of hope<br />

emerged amidst the chaos. In the<br />

face of overwhelming adversity, the<br />

community rallied together, united<br />

in their suffering and solidarity. The<br />

small team of nuns and nurses at<br />

the parish hospital worked tirelessly,<br />

despite the scarcity of resources and<br />

the absence of electricity, to tend to<br />

the injured and the vulnerable. The<br />

parish grounds, complete with a<br />

church, school, convent, hospital, and<br />

parish center, have become a unifying<br />

ground for the community: a safe<br />

haven.<br />

Yet, the scars of the disaster run deep,<br />

both physically and emotionally. The<br />

fear of another mudslide looms large,<br />

casting a shadow of uncertainty<br />

over the parishioners’ lives. The<br />

mountain, once a symbol of strength<br />

and stability, now serves as a constant<br />

reminder of the fragility of human<br />

existence.<br />

Amidst the rubble and ruins,<br />

however, faith endures. Gathered<br />

in the parish church on the feast of<br />

the Immaculate Conception, the<br />

community raised their voices in<br />

hymns of praise, their unwavering<br />

trust in God undiminished by the<br />

tragedy that had befallen them. For<br />

them, the cyclone may have tested<br />

their faith, but it has not broken their<br />

spirit.<br />

As we walked alongside Fr.<br />

Vincent, surveying the devastation<br />

that stretched out before us, it became<br />

clear that the road to recovery would<br />

be long and arduous. Lives may have<br />

been forever altered, but the resilience<br />

of the human spirit prevails. Despite<br />

the hardships they face, the people of<br />

Muloza Parish stand firm, their faith<br />

unshaken, their hope undimmed.<br />

In adversity, they find strength. In<br />

the face of despair, they find courage.<br />

And in the aftermath of Cyclone<br />

Freddy, they find a renewed sense of<br />

purpose—to rebuild, to restore, and<br />

to rise from the ashes, stronger than<br />

ever before.

16<br />

17<br />

From the Dioceses:<br />

‘Here I am,’ I said; ‘send me!’<br />

By Maureen Crowley Heil*<br />

When a white van pulled into the<br />

courtyard of Chitula Parish in the<br />

Archdiocese of Lilongwe, Malawi at<br />

the beginning of December 2023, the<br />

reception was so joyful, so raucous,<br />

that you could be forgiven for<br />

thinking that Pope Francis himself<br />

was about to step out!<br />

Women in colorful, matching<br />

outfits danced, sang, and chanted as<br />

the door swung open to reveal the<br />

visitors: a group of regular American<br />

Catholics representing The Pontifical<br />

Mission Societies in the United States<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office<br />

Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

(TPMS USA). Instead of deflating the<br />

crowd by our ordinariness, they got<br />

louder!<br />

As we left the van, the crowd<br />

surged and surrounded us, leading<br />

us to a small building constructed<br />

of locally made and fired bricks. It<br />

was their church – built years ago<br />

when they were still an outstation of<br />

another parish. They had long ago<br />

outgrown it but were so proud to<br />

show it to us.<br />

Now a full-fledged parish<br />

dedicated to Saint Bernadette, they<br />

have three outstations of their own.<br />

This means that the faith has been<br />

spread far beyond their original<br />

borders. Small Christian communities<br />

exist in places that are many miles<br />

from the parish proper. Members of<br />

these communities meet regularly to<br />

pray, study Scripture, and learn more<br />

about the tenets of Catholicism. As a<br />

parish grows, it will develop many of<br />

these so-called outstations.<br />

The lynchpin of this whole scenario<br />

is the catechist.<br />

This is my twenty-fifth year<br />

of service to TPMS; I have been<br />

privileged to witness the growth<br />

of the young mission Church on<br />

every populated continent. In all my<br />

travels, it is the catechist whom I have<br />

come to admire most.<br />

The ministry of a catechist in the<br />

missions is quite different from that<br />

of one in our Western society. We<br />

may think of this position as someone<br />

who volunteers a Sunday morning or<br />

a weekday afternoon to teach faith<br />

formation to children for an hour<br />

or so. In the missions, a catechist’s<br />

ministry is an all-encompassing, fulltime<br />

commitment.<br />

In Malawi, to become a catechist,<br />

one goes to live at a training center<br />

with their family for a couple of<br />

years. They are given a small plot<br />

of land to farm to feed themselves.<br />

The catechist-to-be attends theology<br />

and teaching classes. Their children<br />

go to school, and their spouses<br />

(not all catechists are men!) devote<br />

themselves to a different type of<br />

education. They learn economics,<br />

basic hygiene principles, farming<br />

techniques, land conservation skills,<br />

and more. This is so that once the<br />

catechist is commissioned, the spouse<br />

can also be active in the community,<br />

helping people to better manage<br />

their households, and farms, and<br />

participate more fully in the life of the<br />

Church.<br />

This program is just one of many<br />

supported by The Pontifical Mission<br />

Societies.<br />

After graduation, the catechist is<br />

responsible for the faith formation of<br />

everyone at their assigned outstation<br />

– children and adults alike. They<br />

prepare people for sacraments, run<br />

Liturgy of the Word services, and<br />

help to bury the dead in the absence<br />

of a priest. Some outstations are so<br />

remote that they may see a priest four<br />

or five times a year at most. In these<br />

cases, it is the catechist who is the<br />

glue that does whatever is necessary<br />

to hold the faith community together.<br />

One catechist I met, while on a<br />

mission trip to Zambia some years<br />

ago, walked thirteen miles each<br />

way to the outstation she served – a

18 19<br />

marathon of faith each weekend!<br />

She fell to her knees before me in<br />

tears when she discovered that I<br />

represented TPMS; she had just<br />

received a gift of a bicycle, at the cost<br />

of $250, from our General Fund. She<br />

would now ride the miles, giving her<br />

more time for her ministry!<br />

At Chitula Parish, towards the<br />

end of the beautiful liturgy that day,<br />

celebrated by priests who would<br />

not have been ordained without<br />

the scholarships from our Society of<br />

St. Peter Apostle, there were many<br />

speeches. One was from a young girl<br />

who represented the local members<br />

of our children’s Society, the<br />

Missionary Childhood Association,<br />

which the village’s first catechist had<br />

introduced to them while they were<br />

still an outstation. The girl spoke of<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office<br />

Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

her pride in knowing that by sharing<br />

her faith with others, she was a true<br />

Catholic.<br />

Then, the parish’s three catechists<br />

were introduced. These men travel<br />

many miles every week to bring the<br />

faith to small Christian communities<br />

in Saint Bernadette’s outstations.<br />

As the catechists stood in front of<br />

the parishioners gathered, dressed in<br />

their “Sunday best,” the dedication to<br />

the Lord and their prophetic ministry<br />

emanated from their very beings. It<br />

was as if the heavens opened, and<br />

we saw the call of Isaiah living in our<br />

midst: “Then I heard the voice of the<br />

Lord saying. ‘Whom shall I send?<br />

Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I<br />

said; ‘send me!’”<br />

Because I saw many bicycles<br />

parked at the church, I knew these<br />

catechists were the lucky owners<br />

of some of them. I could picture<br />

them traveling to their outstations,<br />

with their wives riding sidesaddle<br />

on the back, holding whatever new<br />

faith formation materials they had<br />

managed to gather. With each push of<br />

the pedal, they would thank God for<br />

The Pontifical Mission Societies for<br />

their transportation, education, and<br />

most importantly, the opportunity to<br />

say “Yes!” to their calling to bring the<br />

faith to people in some of the most<br />

remote areas of our world.<br />

Whenever I am tired or<br />

discouraged in my work, I pray for<br />

the catechists whom I have met. They<br />

persevere through some of life’s most<br />

unthinkable hardships. The three I<br />

met in Chitula live in an economy that<br />

the World Bank ranks as one of the<br />

poorest in the world. Life expectancy<br />

at birth is sixty-three years. Over 70%<br />

of the population lives on just $2.15 a<br />

day. Yet, their love of God and their<br />

willingness to overcome whatever<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

life throws at them to share our<br />

Catholic faith is immeasurable.<br />

Their steadfast, tenacious fidelity<br />

to their vocation inspires me, after<br />

twenty-five years, to continue to raise<br />

my hand every day and say, “Here I<br />

am. Send me!”<br />

*The author is the Director of Programs and<br />

Development of Pontifical Mission Societies in the<br />

Archdiocese of Boston.<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray

20 21<br />

Society for the Propagation of The Faith:<br />

For Cardinal Tobin, his missionary<br />

vocation began as an altar boy<br />

By Ines San Martin<br />

The missionary vocation of<br />

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R.,<br />

archbishop of Newark, began in the<br />

heart of southwest Detroit, where the<br />

spirit of mission permeated the air in<br />

the Holy Redeemer Parish back in the<br />

1950s.<br />

“I admired the priests. It was a<br />

very active parish, and many left<br />

for missions,” he recalled, reflecting<br />

on the Redemptorist community<br />

that shaped his early life. “The first<br />

American Redemptorist to work<br />

in Brazil’s Amazon region came<br />

from my neighborhood. Even more<br />

exotic were the fellows who went to<br />

Thailand.”<br />

His parish was big on mission<br />

animation, his neighborhood was a<br />

cradle for missionaries, with clubs<br />

in the parish supporting missions in<br />

Brazil and Thailand, and the young<br />

cardinal-to-be served as an altar<br />

boy when these priests returned to<br />

celebrate Mass and share their tales<br />

from the missions.<br />

Cardinal Joseph’s journey to<br />

priesthood was influenced by his<br />

admiration for the Redemptorist<br />

order and the support of his father,<br />

who advised him to follow God’s<br />

will. Despite not having envisioned<br />

a specific mission territory when<br />

he began exploring his vocation,<br />

Cardinal Joseph was prepared for<br />

a wide horizon of possibilities.<br />

“Towards the end of theology, it<br />

narrowed,” he shared. His provincial<br />

first brought up the possibility of an<br />

academic career, pursuing a doctorate<br />

in Rome, but without challenging his<br />

vow of obedience, he said he would<br />

prefer to “die in the frontlines.”<br />

Unexpectedly, his first assignment<br />

was not Brazil, as he had been<br />

prepared for, but back to his home<br />

parish in Detroit. “I had to become<br />

a missionary,” he states, recognizing<br />

that the city had changed and<br />

presented new cultural challenges.<br />

“I finally got to a foreign country<br />

other than Canada when I got elected<br />

to the General Council and went to<br />

Mexico. I remember being in front of

22 23<br />

the Tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe,<br />

and began crying, thinking of all the<br />

abuelitas who had taught me to love<br />

the Morenita.”<br />

Cardinal Joseph was in the general<br />

government of the Redemptorist<br />

for 18 years, including as Superior<br />

General between 1997 and 2009:<br />

“For the 18 years I was in the general<br />

government, I spent about half of<br />

them in Rome, the other half in the<br />

countries where we work. We are in<br />

78 countries, and I believe I’ve been<br />

to 71 of them. I still wake up with<br />

three questions haunting me: where I<br />

am, what language do we speak, and<br />

where is the john.”<br />

Haiti stands out for him. “The<br />

poorest country in the hemisphere,<br />

one of the five poorest countries in the<br />

world,” he noted, “suffering terribly,<br />

they still have a joy that is inspiring.”<br />

This contrasts with his experiences in<br />

the former Soviet Union, where the<br />

joy was so less apparent, that teachers<br />

in Belarus would walk their students<br />

to the garden of a Redemptorist<br />

parish where a priest had planted<br />

flowers.<br />

To those considering a missionary<br />

vocation, lay or otherwise, the prelate<br />

offers encouragement, citing the<br />

transformative experiences of those<br />

who have served overseas missions.<br />

“It confirmed them as adults in the<br />

faith of their childhood, broadening<br />

their horizons,” he says. The cardinal<br />

echoes Pope Francis’s sentiment<br />

that young people should be given<br />

something to do, not just talked at.<br />

“I think living outside of one’s<br />

country helps you understand your<br />

own,” he said. “I remember reading a<br />

XIX century American author named<br />

Ambrose Bierce, who was a bit of a<br />

cynic. And he said, ‘War is God’s way<br />

of teaching Americans geography.’<br />

And I think even today, there is a<br />

tendency to think that everything<br />

ends at our borders. And there is a<br />

whole world out there.”<br />

Being a foreign missionary today,<br />

he argued, “is an exchange of gifts. It<br />

is not ‘I have something to bring,’ no,<br />

Christ has been there before us. What<br />

we are trying to do is help the local<br />

Church and announce with joy the<br />

universal sisterhood and brotherhood<br />

that we share as Catholics.”<br />

After 45 years as a priest, Cardinal<br />

Joseph has spent much of his life<br />

in cultural realities different from<br />

the one he was raised in, finding<br />

it exhilarating. His advice to those<br />

considering the missionary path<br />

is heartfelt: “Especially if you can<br />

bear with yourself for massacring<br />

languages!”<br />

Missionary Childhood Association:<br />

“What’s your favorite subject?”<br />

By Margaret Murray<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray

24 25<br />

Driving down the dusty red dirt<br />

roads of Malawi’s capital city of<br />

Lilongwe, our truck flew past groups<br />

of children in bright blue dresses and<br />

grey uniforms, some as young as five<br />

years old. Some wore shoes or socks<br />

on their feet, a handful had small<br />

backpacks slung over their shoulders,<br />

and others without uniforms walked<br />

alongside.<br />

Passing by small brick homes and<br />

dry farmlands, over 5,000 of these<br />

children walk the roads of Lilongwe<br />

each morning from over 13 villages<br />

as far as 5 miles away - laughing<br />

and skipping along as any child<br />

would when socializing with friends.<br />

Their destination: St. John’s Catholic<br />

Primary School.<br />

Founded in 1963, St. John’s<br />

Primary School and its staff of 69<br />

teachers provide the invaluable gift<br />

of education to the children of these<br />

villages near Lilongwe. Funded<br />

by the efforts of the Missionary<br />

Childhood Association, St. John’s<br />

sits on a large plot of land with ten<br />

to twelve brick classroom buildings<br />

surrounding swaths of open space for<br />

playing and trees for studying under.<br />

To accommodate the considerable<br />

number of ‘learners,’ the school holds<br />

classes in morning and afternoon<br />

sessions. At all hours of the day,<br />

children are seen and heard playing,<br />

studying in groups, and reciting<br />

lessons with their teachers from inside<br />

the simple classroom buildings. With<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

eyes closed, St. John’s would sound<br />

like any other Catholic school in the<br />

world.<br />

But our eyes were opened to<br />

the astonishing feat St. John’s<br />

faculty pulls off in educating so<br />

many students with so little space<br />

and resources. Walking amongst<br />

hundreds of children and speaking<br />

with Mary, the headmistress, the lack<br />

of simple necessities such as shoes,<br />

books, writing materials, and desks<br />

was deeply apparent. Yet despite this<br />

harsh reality, each learner approached<br />

me eager to share a smile, a high-five,<br />

a hug, or an answer about which<br />

subject was their favorite in school.<br />

The joy of learning was infectious –<br />

as an elementary-school girl I never<br />

would have said English was my<br />

favorite subject as enthusiastically<br />

as a little boy did when he giggled at<br />

me!<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

A hot wind blows through the brick<br />

open-air awnings attached to the<br />

outsides of classroom buildings. Up<br />

to 50 students sit in these makeshift<br />

classrooms, watching and reciting<br />

vocabulary as their teacher writes<br />

on a chalkboard on the exterior brick<br />

wall of the building with only one or<br />

two notebooks and pencils visible<br />

among the learners. These spaces<br />

are reserved for the children in third<br />

through sixth grade.<br />

For the youngest students at St.<br />

John’s, as many as 60 students sit<br />

in groups on the floors of covered<br />

classroom buildings – walls littered<br />

with colorful crayon diagrams of<br />

animals, colors, vocabulary terms,<br />

class schedules, and rules of etiquette.<br />

One large sheet outlines the rules of<br />

the classroom, the words “We must<br />

be punctual,” “We must respect<br />

each other,” and “Boys must tuck

Photo credit: Nancy Wiechec/CNS<br />

26 27<br />

in uniform” written in the easily<br />

identified manuscript of a young<br />

student.<br />

Desks, a precious commodity, are<br />

reserved for the indoor classrooms<br />

of the seventh and eighth grades<br />

as boys and girls prepare to take<br />

their secondary school entrance<br />

exams. While 2,000 students from<br />

the surrounding area may apply to<br />

attend secondary school each year,<br />

only 200 are welcomed at the nearby<br />

institution. With the odds stacked<br />

against them, St. John’s prides itself<br />

on having a high acceptance rate<br />

from their 8th grade class. What little<br />

resources are available at the school<br />

are saved for higher grades, so they<br />

are adequately prepared for their<br />

future education or careers.<br />

One among the fourteen-year-old<br />

learners is Lawrence, the school’s<br />

Head Boy. In a clean-pressed dark<br />

gray uniform, Lawrence exuded<br />

gratitude and sincerity when he<br />

addressed our delegation from<br />

TPMS-USA. As Lawrence expressed<br />

his thanks for the cooperation of<br />

TPMS and the Malawi Government<br />

to fund St. John’s School, he voiced<br />

the concerns of the students where<br />

further support could be given. “The<br />

most crucial thing is the maintenance<br />

of the classrooms,” he said, “during<br />

the rainy season they leak and have<br />

some cracks. We are always scared of<br />

these during our classroom sessions.”<br />

It was easy to find large cracks that<br />

ran from foundation to roof in the<br />

simple brick structures that housed<br />

the learning sessions.<br />

While talking with Lawrence and<br />

the Head Girl, Florence, we learned<br />

that the students at St. John’s are<br />

introduced to MCA at a very young<br />

age, stressing the importance of their<br />

missionary call through their baptism<br />

and the necessity for prayer and<br />

sacrifice as a means of helping other<br />

schools around the world the same<br />

way their school was supported by the<br />

Missionary Childhood Association 60<br />

years ago. Even though less than 20%<br />

of the students are Catholic, even the<br />

smallest children recognize the work<br />

of TPMS in their school and their<br />

duty to pay it forward.<br />

The juxtaposition of incredible<br />

need and a sense of obligation to help<br />

less fortunate students around the<br />

world was startling – and it made me<br />

wonder if middle-school students in<br />

American Catholic Schools ever stop<br />

to consider the same duty Lawrence<br />

expressed to us. The profound joy<br />

and hope permeating the campus<br />

of St. John’s was contrasted by the<br />

stories of the students, teachers, and<br />

administrators making do with the<br />

little resources and cramped office<br />

space they had. While the American<br />

Church is forced to close Catholic<br />

Schools due to low enrollment, the<br />

Church in Malawi can hardly open<br />

schools fast enough to accommodate<br />

the students in search of a brighter<br />

future.<br />

Walking through the classroom<br />

buildings and out onto the dusty red<br />

field, I was reminded of Aristotle’s<br />

words:<br />

“Educating the mind<br />

without educating the heart<br />

is no education at all.”<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

The mission of the teachers at<br />

St. John’s is not only to give their<br />

students an opportunity to flourish<br />

and excel in their future careers but to<br />

instill a deep sense of gratitude and<br />

care for the common good in their<br />

hearts. Where hope and joy abound<br />

in the classrooms of St. John’s Primary<br />

School, respect and generosity grow<br />

within the next generation of the<br />

Church in Malawi.

28 29<br />


©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray

30 31<br />

The Missionary Union:<br />

The Real-Life Miracle Workers<br />

of Chisombezi<br />

By Ines San Martin<br />

In the serene Shire Highlands of<br />

southern Malawi, a region known<br />

both for its lush tea estates and its<br />

stark poverty contrasts, stands a<br />

beacon of hope - the Chisombezi<br />

School for the Deafblind. Just outside<br />

the bustling city of Blantyre, this<br />

school, managed by the Sisters of the<br />

Blessed Virgin Mary, is more than an<br />

educational institution.<br />

It is a sanctuary of love and hope,<br />

a place where the most vulnerable<br />

children are given a voice and a<br />

family.<br />

At the heart of this institution is<br />

Sister Prisca, a young, dynamic nun<br />

in her third year as the supervisor.<br />

Her approach, firm yet filled with<br />

compassion, is reminiscent of Anne<br />

Sullivan’s dedication to Helen Keller<br />

in “The Miracle Worker.” Despite<br />

the overwhelming challenges,<br />

including the lack of basic amenities<br />

like electricity and running water,<br />

Sister Prisca’s resolve to educate and<br />

empower these children is steadfast.<br />

“Our journey is tough, and the<br />

resources scarce,” Sister Prisca says,<br />

“but in each child’s smile, we find<br />

the strength to continue. Here, we<br />

fight not just for education, but for<br />

transformation.”<br />

Chisombezi School educates<br />

around 12 students, each facing<br />

unique challenges due to their deaf<br />

blindness. The school’s rudimentary<br />

structure and constant struggle<br />

for basic necessities like food and<br />

learning materials depict a stark<br />

reality. Yet, within these walls, the<br />

school is much more than a center of<br />

learning; it’s a home where children<br />

find a sense of belonging and love,<br />

often missing in their lives.<br />

Many deafblind children in<br />

Malawi lack adequate support at<br />

home. At Chisombezi, they are part<br />

of a community that understands<br />

and nurtures them. The teachers,<br />

trained in various methods of hand<br />

sign language, open a world of<br />

communication for them, allowing<br />

them to express needs, wants, and<br />

feelings for the first time. “We do<br />

more than teach,” Sister Prisca<br />

explains. “We give our children<br />

the gift of communication, the joy<br />

of expressing themselves, and the<br />

comfort of being understood.”<br />

However, the school faces heartwrenching<br />

challenges. Some<br />

students, living at home, disappear<br />

for months, losing much of their<br />

educational progress. This reflects<br />

the broader struggles of growing<br />

up in impoverished communities<br />

in Malawi, where isolation and<br />

desperation are common experiences.<br />

Yet, hope shines through in the<br />

school’s ethos, focusing on equality,<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray

32 33<br />

dignity, and a preferential option<br />

for the poor. Sister Prisca, with her<br />

background in special education<br />

for the deafblind, sees each child’s<br />

potential. The school’s sign, “Hope<br />

for the Future,” embodies their core<br />

values and vision of creating a selfreliant<br />

person with deafblindness in<br />

society.<br />

The school’s impact is most evident<br />

in the joy and laughter of the children<br />

during performances and activities.<br />

These moments of happiness<br />

underscore the transformative effect<br />

of the school, where the children are<br />

cherished as individual sons and<br />

daughters of God, each loved and<br />

celebrated for their individuality.<br />

Adorning the school’s walls are<br />

posters detailing what each one of<br />

them likes, dislikes, and what their<br />

particular abilities are.<br />

Sister Prisca and the Chisombezi<br />

School for the Deafblind are modernday<br />

miracle workers in a setting<br />

that echoes the challenges and<br />

determination of Helen Keller and<br />

Anne Sullivan. They provide not only<br />

education and communication skills<br />

to these children but also a sense of<br />

dignity and belonging in a world that<br />

often overlooks them. “Our goal,”<br />

Sister Prisca concludes, “is to nurture<br />

these children into individuals who<br />

can confidently stand in society, not<br />

just as equals, but as symbols of<br />

hope and perseverance.”<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo by Margaret Murray

34 35<br />

From Missio:<br />

Amidst War and Earthquake,<br />

Syria’s Struggle, and the Church’s<br />

Beacon of Hope<br />

By Ines San Martin<br />

As Syria solemnly marks its<br />

fourteenth year of relentless conflict<br />

and the first anniversary of the<br />

devastating 2023 earthquake that<br />

killed more than 50,000 people in<br />

this country and neighboring Turkey,<br />

Deacon Engineer Saad Mounir<br />

Antti offers a poignant insight into<br />

the struggles and resilience of his<br />

homeland.<br />

“Syria was once one of the most<br />

beautiful and sophisticated countries<br />

in the Middle East,” Deacon Saad<br />

reminisces, providing a stark contrast<br />

to the harrowing reality now faced by<br />

its people.<br />

The United Nations’ statistics<br />

portray a dire situation, but it is<br />

Deacon Saad’s personal narrative<br />

that truly brings the plight of Syria’s

36 37<br />

people to the forefront. “On February<br />

11, 2013, my family and I left our<br />

home and work with only the clothes<br />

on our backs, seeking refuge in the<br />

city of Al-Hasakah in northeastern<br />

Syria to start our lives anew. Later,<br />

ISIS entered our new city in 2015,<br />

causing us to flee towards northern<br />

Syria for several months. We returned<br />

and settled in Al-Hasakah after the<br />

situation stabilized.”<br />

Then, in 2016, they were displaced<br />

again, this time towards western<br />

Syria, “as the war continued to take<br />

its toll on us.”<br />

Like many Christian families,<br />

Deacon Saad and his family<br />

contemplated finding a way to<br />

migrate, but all their attempts were<br />

unsuccessful. Due to the stress of<br />

the harrowing situation, his father<br />

suffered a stroke, and is now<br />

paralyzed on one side.<br />

“I live in a house with my father<br />

Mounir (an architect), my mother<br />

Hayat (a school teacher), my older<br />

brother Firas (a former UN employee<br />

and graduate of the Faculty of<br />

Economics), my wife Sonia (a<br />

lawyer), and my two children, Sarah<br />

(5 years old) and Charbel (2 years<br />

old),” Deacon Saad shared.<br />

The Christian community, an<br />

integral part of Syria’s diverse<br />

tapestry, has endured immeasurable<br />

hardship. Deacon Saad details this<br />

struggle: “Since the beginning of<br />

the war until now, more than 55%<br />

of Christians have fled the region.”<br />

Their plight is a microcosm of the<br />

broader Syrian crisis, where basic<br />

needs are increasingly unattainable,<br />

and survival is a daily challenge.<br />

The 2023 earthquake, despite its<br />

tragic and almost unprecedented<br />

magnitude, was another drop of<br />

water in a glass already overflown.<br />

Deacon Saad describes the<br />

immediate and long-term effects:<br />

“The earthquake had compounded<br />

effects after 12 years of war, famine,<br />

and poverty in Syria.” He speaks of<br />

displacement, psychological trauma,<br />

and a shaken community struggling<br />

to find stability amidst continuous<br />

turmoil.<br />

“The earthquake that struck<br />

northern Syria last February added<br />

to the burdens of Syrians. Its impact<br />

was more concentrated in the city of<br />

Aleppo, and it had a lesser impact<br />

in Al-Hasakah,” Deacon Saad said.<br />

“However, it caused a lot of fear<br />

and psychological distress among<br />

children, especially when aftershocks<br />

occurred the next day. My five-yearold<br />

daughter is still afraid to sleep<br />

alone.”<br />

As for the long-term effects of the<br />

earthquake, he said, hundreds, if<br />

not thousands, of Christians were<br />

displaced to other cities in the Syrian<br />

coast, southern Syria, and some<br />

to Europe and Canada: “This has<br />

resulted in a decrease in the number<br />

of Christians in the region.”<br />

It has also led to significant economic<br />

repercussions due to the destruction<br />

and damage to infrastructure,<br />

hindering the country’s progress by<br />

delaying internationally agreed-upon<br />

reconstruction efforts. Moreover, there<br />

has been an increase in psychological<br />

effects and social disturbances. “We<br />

have witnessed numerous cases of<br />

Christian university students who<br />

left their universities and have been<br />

unable to return due to the fear of<br />

what they witnessed during the<br />

earthquake last year,” he said.

38 39<br />

Despite these adversities, the<br />

Christian community remains<br />

steadfast, supported by the Church’s<br />

unwavering efforts. “Churches<br />

have intervened in various sectors,<br />

opening their doors to accommodate<br />

those whose homes were destroyed,”<br />

Deacon Saad explains. Yet, he is<br />

candid about the limitations faced<br />

due to economic sanctions and the<br />

dire need for international support.<br />

Deacon Saad’s call to action is<br />

heartfelt and urgent. “I raise my<br />

voice to continue providing support<br />

to Christians in northern and<br />

eastern Syria and to increase this<br />

support to preserve the Christian<br />

presence in the East,” he implores.<br />

He outlines critical needs: healthcare<br />

support, educational scholarships,<br />

vocational training for women, and<br />

infrastructure development.<br />

Concluding his message,<br />

Deacon Saad reflects on the global<br />

community’s role: “The Christians<br />

in northeastern Syria have been left<br />

by the world to slowly perish in<br />

this region without anyone caring<br />

for them.” His plea is a powerful<br />

reminder of our shared responsibility<br />

to support those in need, to be a<br />

beacon of hope in their darkest hours.<br />

“From this platform, as a deacon<br />

in the Hassakeh diocese and a<br />

representative of the Syriac Catholic<br />

community, as well as the executive<br />

director of Mar Assia Relief Center<br />

for more than ten years, I raise my<br />

voice to continue providing support<br />

to Christians in northern and eastern<br />

Syria and to increase this support to<br />

preserve the Christian presence in the<br />

East,” Deacon Saad said.<br />

As the world observes Easter, the<br />

story of Syria – a land of ancient<br />

faiths, now torn by war and natural<br />

disaster – is a poignant reminder of<br />

the need for compassion, solidarity,<br />

and action. It is a call to each of us to<br />

contribute, to support, and to bear<br />

witness to the enduring power of the<br />

human spirit, uplifted by faith and<br />

communal support.<br />

Making a Personal Connection<br />

with the Global Church<br />

By Clara Schous<br />

**The Pontifical Mission Societies USA, through<br />

its crowdfunding platform Missio, has raised over<br />

$900,000 of relief funds for Syria and Turkey<br />

following the earthquake. You can find this project,<br />

and many others, at www.missio.org.

40 41<br />

Paraphrasing Jane Austen, it is a<br />

truth universally acknowledged that<br />

a Catholic mother of five children<br />

must want them to have a good job.<br />

However, by good, she does not just<br />

mean one that pays the bills.<br />

I was raised in a Catholic home<br />

and met my husband, Aaron, in<br />

graduate school at the University of<br />

Notre Dame. Maggie, the eldest of<br />

our children, is one of the Fighting<br />

Irish herself. The ink hadn’t dried<br />

on her diploma last spring when she<br />

received a job offer to work for The<br />

Pontifical Mission Societies USA<br />

(TPMS).<br />

I knew it meant a “Church<br />

job,” that it clearly had to do with<br />

“missionaries” and that she would<br />

be joining the communications team.<br />

But I was ignorant of the rich history<br />

of TPMS, and exactly what working<br />

for the missions in the year 2023 looks<br />

like.<br />

Five months into the job, and shortly<br />

before coming home for Christmas,<br />

Maggie traveled to Malawi, one of the<br />

world’s poorest countries, with some<br />

of her colleagues. She took thousands<br />

of pictures and gathered the materials<br />

to write some of the stories featured<br />

in this magazine you now hold. Our<br />

natural eagerness to see her for the<br />

holidays intensified as we anticipated<br />

all she would share with us about her<br />

trip to the African continent.<br />

As Maggie had studied history and<br />

documentary filmmaking at ND, it<br />

was not an unfamiliar scene for the<br />

family to grab Saturday morning<br />

coffee and gather around for a new<br />

video and story upon her return<br />

home. (Once again,) she did not<br />

disappoint us.<br />

She showed us pictures of St.<br />

John’s School, and as a middle school<br />

science teacher myself, I was acutely<br />

observant of the classroom conditions<br />

- deeply cracked walls, barred<br />

“windows”, and a dirt floor - no desks<br />

or tables for most. These would have<br />

been my students had I been born on<br />

the other side of the world. It stirred<br />

my heart and touched me deeply.<br />

How can children learn under these<br />

conditions?<br />

And yet, once the initial shock of<br />

the physical environment passes, you<br />

see the smiles - the joy - the hope in<br />

the eyes of these beautiful children,<br />

brimming with gratitude. Through<br />

her stories, pictures, and videos of the<br />

welcome they received in each place<br />

they visited, we were drawn into the<br />

narrative of these lives.<br />

From the excited school children<br />

to the song and dance of the Catholic<br />

women’s groups, to the struggles<br />

and hopes of the seminarians, I<br />

felt a connection to them as God’s<br />

people. The poverty she encountered,<br />

Maggie told us, is forever ingrained<br />

in her mind, but much more so is the<br />

dignity of the people she met. From<br />

the small – yet far from insignificantdetails<br />

of the women having their<br />

hands manicured and the children<br />

dressed to the nines in hand-medown<br />

clothes that seemed out of place<br />

in the humble churches where they<br />

heard Mass, she said, it was evident<br />

that these are people conscious of<br />

their God-given dignity.<br />

The more we heard, the more we<br />

wanted to know, as a family, about<br />

what Maggie is doing, and about<br />

the impact of The Pontifical Mission<br />

Societies around the world.<br />

We learned how they support over<br />

800,000 catechists teaching the faith<br />

in 1,150 mission territories.<br />

We were amazed to hear that<br />

there are currently some 38,000 men<br />

preparing for the priesthood who<br />

would not be able to stay in seminary<br />

were it not for the yearly scholarships<br />

they receive from TPMS. These<br />

young men are our daughter’s peers,<br />

eager to build and serve the Church<br />

in Malawi. Can you imagine the<br />

good these seminarians will do?<br />

We were surprised to find out that<br />

there are over 26 million girls and<br />

boys who, were it not for the support<br />

the local church receives from<br />

TPMS, would not have access to an<br />

education.<br />

Despite growing up in a Catholic<br />

home and attending Catholic school<br />

my entire life, I didn’t know much<br />

about the Catholic missions aside<br />

from seeing the occasional poster of<br />

a church in Asia or Africa or hearing<br />

of a fundraiser from time to time<br />

supporting a mission diocese in Latin<br />

America. But I hoped to change that<br />

pattern for my students and was<br />

happily moved into action when I<br />

heard from Maggie that one common<br />

request in Malawi was for rosaries.<br />

During Catholic Schools Week, we<br />

gathered our K-8 students together on<br />

vocation’s day for a short presentation<br />

from TPMS on the missions and<br />

then prayed a Mission Rosary while<br />

making one. We produced 150<br />

mission rosaries and raised $200<br />

through a dress-down fundraiser that<br />

we will send to the St. John School.<br />

We pray that our simple rosaries will<br />

be a reminder to the people of Malawi<br />

that God remembers them, and so do<br />

we, Catholics in America, who are<br />

grateful and proud to be members of<br />

the Universal Church.

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo from the TPMS Archives of Fulton J. Sheen<br />

42 43<br />

The Fulton Sheen Society Part 2:<br />

By Fr. Anthony Andreassi<br />

In our ongoing series on Archbishop<br />

Fulton J. Sheen, we continue exploring<br />

his formative years, focusing on his<br />

advanced education, ordination, and<br />

early ministry. These experiences laid<br />

the groundwork for his influential<br />

roles in the Propagation of the Faith<br />

and evangelization through various<br />

media.<br />

After he graduated from St. Viator’s<br />

College in Bourbonnais, Illinois in<br />

the spring of 1917, the twenty-twoyear-old<br />

Fulton moved on to St. Paul<br />

Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota<br />

to study for the priesthood for the<br />

Diocese of Peoria. In doing this, he<br />

was joined by eight other young men<br />

from his diocese who also would<br />

be preparing for the priesthood<br />

there. Established in 1894, St. Paul’s<br />

Seminary was opened by John<br />

Ireland, the first archbishop of Ireland<br />

and one of the most significant<br />

American churchmen of his time.<br />

While in seminary, Sheen continued<br />

to distinguish himself academically<br />

and was thus permitted to enroll in<br />

advanced seminars. The one area in<br />

which he did not excel was in Church<br />

music due to his struggle to carry a<br />

tune. However, later in life he found<br />

his voice (as it were) and could sing<br />

as a respectable baritone.<br />

Unfortunately, during his time in<br />

St. Paul, Sheen developed stomach<br />

problems which resulted in the<br />

removal of a portion of his intestine.<br />

Because of this, throughout the rest<br />

of his life, Sheen’s diet was spared,<br />

though much of what he did eat<br />

tended to be sweets such as ice cream<br />

and cookies. While at the seminary,<br />

Sheen began the daily practice of<br />

spending a Holy Hour in front of the<br />

Blessed Sacrament, and for the rest of<br />

his life, he strove mightily to remain<br />

faithful to this discipline.<br />

After completing two years of<br />

study at St. Paul, in the fall of 1919<br />

Sheen transferred to the Catholic<br />

University of America (CUA) in<br />

Washington, D.C. to pursue a

44 45<br />

doctorate in philosophy. However,<br />

before settling into his studies, on<br />

September 20 of this same year, he<br />

was ordained a priest by his bishop,<br />

Edmund M. Dunne, in St. Mary’s<br />

Cathedral in Peoria.<br />

As he began his studies in<br />

Washington, Sheen also served as<br />

a chaplain for a local orphanage<br />

celebrating Mass each day for the nuns<br />

and the girls in residence. For Sunday<br />

Mass, he served as a supply priest<br />

helping in parishes as needed. After<br />

only one year of study at CUA, Sheen<br />

was awarded a bachelor’s degrees<br />

in both canon law and theology. He<br />

already had earned both a B.A. and<br />

M.A. from St. Viator’s College. It was<br />

also during his time in Washington<br />

that Sheen made his first conversion<br />

which helped to initiate a ministry<br />

that would continue for the rest of<br />

his life and result in him personally<br />

receiving hundreds into the Church<br />

and encouraging an unknown<br />

multitude to seek conversion under<br />

the care and direction of other priests.<br />

Seeking deeper philosophical<br />

studies, Sheen transferred to the<br />

Catholic University of Louvain,<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo from the TPMS Archives of Fulton J. Sheen<br />

©2023 TPMS-US National Office - Photo from the TPMS Archives of Fulton J. Sheen<br />

Belgium. Despite financial challenges,<br />

he received support from his family,<br />

enabling this move. At Louvain,<br />

Sheen delved into Neo-Thomism and<br />

earned his doctorate in 1923, followed<br />

by the prestigious Cardinal Mercier<br />

Prize for International Philosophy.<br />

He also pursued the agrégé, a postdoctoral<br />

degree, and achieved it with<br />

“very highest distinction.”<br />

In addition to throwing himself<br />

fully into his studies, during<br />

university breaks Sheen took these<br />

opportunities to travel, often with<br />

his brother, widely including trips to<br />

France, Germany, England, Greece,<br />

and Italy. While in Rome in February<br />

of 1922, Sheen was able to use his<br />

connections to secure a private<br />

audience with Pope Benedict XV.

46 47<br />

This would prove to be the first of<br />

many meetings and interactions with<br />

popes throughout Sheen’s life and<br />

career.<br />

Returning to the U.S., Sheen’s<br />

initial assignment was at St. Patrick’s<br />

Church in Peoria, a parish close to<br />

his heart. As he had done with all<br />

things in life thus far, Sheen threw<br />

himself fully into his pastoral duties,<br />

and before long had made a home<br />

visitation to every family in the parish.<br />

Sheen also continued his special<br />

ministry to those without faith and<br />

Catholics who had fallen away from<br />

the Church, again leading several<br />

men and women through sincere and<br />

life-changing conversions. Although<br />

Sheen would only spend eight<br />

months at St. Patrick’s, this parish<br />

and its people would claim his heart<br />

for many years to come. In fact, when<br />

he was named a bishop in 1951 and<br />

came home for the first time, it was<br />

at St. Patrick’s and not at St. Mary’s<br />

Cathedral that he celebrated his first<br />

Pontifical Mass.<br />

With Bishop Dunne’s permission<br />

and enthusiastic encouragement,<br />

in the fall of 1926 Sheen moved to<br />

Washington, D.C. for the second time<br />

but now not as a student but rather<br />

as a professor of both philosophy and<br />

theology. Sheen would ultimately<br />

spend twenty-three years teaching at<br />

CUA.<br />

In the next installment of the life<br />

and ministry of Archbishop Fulton<br />

Sheen, we will take a close look at his<br />

years in Washington and how, thanks<br />

to his writing, the many people he<br />

came to know, and his use of the new<br />

medium of radio for evangelization,<br />

he soon began to garner a national<br />

audience and reputation.<br />

Editor’s Note<br />

Dear Friends of the Missions,<br />

In the light of Christ’s resurrection,<br />

we are reminded of the transformative<br />

power of faith, hope, and love.<br />

This Easter, we at Mission<br />

<strong>Magazine</strong> are profoundly grateful<br />

for each of you - our dedicated<br />

donors and friends of The Pontifical<br />

Mission Society. Your generosity and<br />

unwavering support have been a<br />

beacon of hope, shining a light that<br />

transforms the lives of millions across<br />

1,150 mission territories. Together,<br />

this past year, we have enabled<br />

over 26 million children (about the<br />

population of Texas) to receive an<br />

education, supported 38,000 young<br />

men in their seminary journey,<br />

aided 250,000 Religious Sisters in<br />

sustaining health care centers, homes<br />

for the elderly, and orphanages, and<br />

empowered over 850,000 catechists to<br />

spread the Gospel.

In a world where many face<br />

challenges that seem insurmountable,<br />

your contributions in support of<br />

missionary men and women have<br />

been a testament to the power of<br />

collective goodwill. For countless<br />

individuals, Lent is not just 40 days<br />

but a perpetual state. In their daily<br />

lives, they do not have the luxury of<br />

giving up chocolates, carbs, or alcohol<br />

for Lent, as these are beyond their<br />

reach in the first place. Your support<br />

helps lift them from these hardships,<br />

offering not just material assistance<br />

but also spiritual nourishment and<br />

hope.<br />

As we celebrate the resurrection<br />

of Christ, let us also celebrate the<br />

resurrection of spirit and opportunity<br />

that your kindness has facilitated.<br />

Each school built, each seminary<br />

student supported, each health center<br />

sustained, and each Gospel lesson<br />

taught is a step toward a brighter,<br />

more hopeful world.<br />

In this issue, you have found<br />

stories of resilience, faith, and<br />

transformation. These narratives<br />

are not just accounts of aid and<br />

development; they are testaments to<br />

the human spirit’s capacity to rise,<br />

inspired and supported by your<br />

generosity.<br />

As we continue our mission, let us<br />

carry the message of Easter in our<br />

hearts - a message of renewal, hope,<br />

and the enduring power of love.<br />

Together, we are not just changing<br />

lives; we are nurturing a future where<br />

the light of Christ’s love reaches every<br />

corner of the earth.<br />

Thank you for being part of this<br />

extraordinary journey. May the joy<br />

of the Easter season fill your hearts<br />

and homes, and may we continue to<br />

work together in shining the light of<br />

hope to the world.<br />

With deepest gratitude,<br />

PS: If you would like to subscribe your parish<br />

to <strong>MISSION</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong>, we ask for a small<br />

contribution of $2 per copy per issue. This means<br />

that, for 50 copies of the four yearly issues, the<br />

suggested contribution from your parish would<br />

be $400. For more information or to subscribe,<br />

please reach out to contact@missio.org.<br />

Subscribe!<br />

Parishes, schools or individuals interested in subscribing to<br />

the <strong>MISSION</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong> can fill out the form at the QR code.<br />

Scan it and subscribe!<br />

If you have any questions, please direct to<br />


In support of<br />

those spreading<br />

the Gospel…<br />

The money needed to support those<br />

serving in the Pope’s missions comes<br />

from loving Catholics like you.<br />

Won’t you send whatever contribution you<br />

can in the enclosed envelope<br />

today so that the priests, religious and lay<br />

pastoral leaders in the<br />

missions may not only survive, but thrive,<br />

in their ministry?<br />

Thank you for supporting our missionaries.<br />

Please be assured of my prayers for you<br />

and your family.<br />

Dear Rev. Anthony D. Andreassi<br />

Send your gift, in your<br />

<strong>MISSION</strong> envelope, to:<br />

Rev. Anthony D. Andreassi<br />

Society for the Propagation<br />

of the Faith<br />

70 West 36th Street, 8th Floor,<br />

New York, NY 10018<br />

Your diocese will be credited<br />

with your gift;<br />

your gift is tax deductible.<br />

Enclosed is my gift of:<br />

$250 $100 $75 $50 $25 Other $_____<br />

$700 (one year’s help, mission seminarian)<br />

$300 (one year’s help, Religious novice)<br />

$5,000 $2,500 $1,000 $500 Other $____<br />

I want to be a monthly donor to the Missions!<br />

I would like information on a Gift Annuity.<br />

Please contact me about remembering The Society for the Propagation of the<br />

Faith in my Will.<br />

Name<br />

email<br />

Address<br />

City State Zip<br />


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