Missio is the New Zealand office providing for the Pontifical Missions Societies, i.e. Propagation of the Faith, St Peter the Apostle, Holy Childhood Society, and Missionary Union. MissioNZ is directly under the patronage of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
From June 1 2012 the New Zealand National Director is Bernard Espiritu SVD. The National Director from 2006 – 2012 has been Fr Paul Shannahan SM.
Fr Bernard Espiritu’s ministry has been across several continents, most recently in North America. He was born in the Philippines, and following ordination with the Society of the Divine Word (SVD – Societas Verbi Divini) was appointed on missionary assignment in south Brazil for seven years. Following that he worked for 16 years in Australia and the last six in North America. MissioNZ is delighted to have his experience and leadership.
The Four Societies
Missio – traditionally called the Pontifical Mission Societies, is composed of four societies. Each has its own focus of work. Each was separately founded by different person. In 1922 Pope Pius XI joined together the four different societies and made them partners to help serve better the needs of various dioceses all over the world, especially those that are established in the young churches.
The Leadership of MissioNZ
He is the accredited Episcopal Vicar for MissioNZ. Bishop Owen has worked with the Columbans as missionary to Chile. In his return to New Zealand he served as the National Director of the Pontifical Mission before he was nominated and ordained bishop. Bishop Owen now lives and still actively help in the Diocese of Palmerston North.
A member of the Divine Word Missionaries, a religious missionary group of Priests and Brothers serving in all the five continents of the world. Bernard has worked as missionary in South America, Australia, and North America. He has been appointed as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (MissioNZ) in April 2012.
Three Societies Under One Umbrella
These three societies each received the official title of “Pontifical” work in 1922, and their central administration was transferred to Rome.
National offices exist now in more than 120 countries. Today, this “family” of mission societies is the Church’s primary means to inform Catholics about her worldwide missionary work and encourage their active participation in those efforts, through prayer and sacrifice.
Almost two centuries after our story began, it continues — a story of all of us together — as “one family in mission” — committed to the worldwide mission of Jesus.
Propagation of the Faith
Partnering Local Churches & Communities
Founded in 1822 in France by Pauline Jaricot (1799-1852)
Pauline originally joined the Paris Foreign Mission Society. However, she found it lacking in the area of raising finance. She established a system with the workers of the industrial revolution. Although they received poor wages, they were paid regularly. Pauline recruited the factory girls from her brother-in-law’s factory and collected from each one, every Friday, whatever they could spare. Her brother, Phileas, sent this money to the mission for the rescue of abandoned children in China. Pauline then found a system that allowed her to expand this effort, while retaining its essential unity. Groups of ten people and a promoter were formed. Each member paid a sou a week; the leader would collect them and give them to the person who was in charge. This formed the basis of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
A meeting between the Bishops and Pauline took place where she insisted that monies collected be sent to where they were needed most, not just to one Society or mission. Thus it became a Universal Mission Aid Fund. The Society was approved by the Pope and became International in 1826. In 1922, to protect its assets from confiscation by a hostile government in France, the Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, brought it under papal protection, along with the Society for Missionary Childhood and the Society of St Peter Apostle. It is now located under the umbrella of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
The Society works with local Churches to provide an Ordinary subsidy for the day to day running of the diocese and to offer spiritual healing and practical assistance to the communities with the greatest needs. It supports the young Church by responding to requests to help build chapels and churches, pastoral centres, clinics and hospitals and to provide medications, pastoral care and emergency relief. Assistance is also provided for lay catechists in terms of formation, remuneration, and resources. All aid is respectful of the dignity and self-esteem of the recipients with the eventual aim of encouraging and developing independence.
Helping the children – Holy Childhood
Encouraging Children to Care for Children
Founded in 1843 in France by Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson (1785-1844)
Bishop Charles met Pauline Jaricot around 1840. When touring the USA, he spoke on many issues including the work of the Propagation of the Faith. Back in Paris, he began to take an increasing interest in the rescue of abandoned babies in China. For advice, he returned to Lyons, France, to confer with Pauline. Two days of discussion produced a clear, positive, simple plan.
Just as Propagation of the Faith had been organised among adults to aid foreign missions, so Bishop Charles would endeavour to found an organisation among children for the salvation of children. On 19th May 1843, he called his first meeting and set out to establish the new Society throughout France. It called upon its members for two things: a short daily prayer for the missions and a monetary sacrifice. As with the other two Societies, it came under papal protection and made a Pontifical Society in 1922.
Under its banner “children helping children”, monies raised through schools are directed towards self-help programmes involving the building of schools, the provision of health and nutrition programmes and medications, school fees, and teaching and learning resources.
Children in communities, orphanages, homes for the disabled, refuges, and those living on the streets are assisted by the generosity of children who wish to help make the love of Jesus known everywhere. In recent years, the efforts of children have been supported by adults through the “Children’s Mission Partners” programme.
St Peter Apostle
Fostering Local Church Leadership
Founded in 1889 in France by Jeanne Bigard (1859-1934)
Jeanne and her mother, Stephanie, had suffered from personal tragedies – the father had suicided and her brother was accidentally burnt to death. Both became virtual recluses, living almost as hermits. They turned to good works and became interested in making altar linen and vestments for missionaries in Japan.
Made aware of their interest, Fr Villion, who was stationed in Japan, approached them in 1888. From Kyoto in Japan, he asked them for assistance in building a church. Although very wealthy, they were also very careful with money. Ultimately they sold some land and a factory and gave 50,000 francs which enabled Fr Villion to build his church.
In 1889, a French Bishop of Nagasaki, Jules-Alphonse Cousin, suggested to the Bigards that they might consider supporting boys in Japan to train for the Priesthood. Thus was born the idea of a general society to promote indigenous clergy throughout the world. The Bigards donated to the new society the whole of their considerable fortune. Approved by the Pope in 1890, it too became a Pontifical Mission Society in 1922.
The Society trains young men and women in their own country and culture to serve their people as religious Sisters, Brothers, or Priests. Also assisted are in their formation and training are those catechists who have been chosen to be the teachers and formators of the catechists in their country.