Share this story


'Were not our hearts burning within us?'

World Mission Sunday 2023

Since 1922, four societies — the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Missionary Childhood Association, and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious — have been defined as the Pontifical Mission Societies, meaning they are “official instruments of the pope and of the universal Catholic Church.” The societies form a worldwide network of service that supports missions and young churches.

Locally, the Diocese of Birmingham supports two of the four societies: the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Missionary Childhood Association. As such, on Oct. 22, the diocese will partake in World Mission Sunday, which falls under the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

What is the Society of the Propagation of the Faith?

The society’s beginnings can be traced back to the early 19th century. A Frenchwoman, Pauline Marie Jaricot, organized small groups to offer daily prayer and a small weekly monetary sacrifice for the Church’s worldwide missionary work. From Jaricot’s vision was born the society, and the very first collection was held in 1822. To this day, the society provides support for pastoral and evangelistic programs, catechists and catechetical work, the building of new churches, health care, education, communication, and transport needs.

What is World Mission Sunday?

World Mission Sunday, held on the penultimate Sunday in October, was instituted in 1926 by Pope Pius XI. According to the U.S. national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Msgr. Kieran Harrington, “World Mission Sunday is an effort of the entire Church to help over 1,100 dioceses that cannot sustain themselves because they are too poor, young, or actively persecuted.”

Msgr. Harrington also points out that until 1908, the United States was considered a mission territory and relied on funds from Propagation of the Faith to support clergy and to build churches and seminaries. “Tens of thousands of missionary women and men, priests, religious and laity rely on our prayers every day, not only on World Mission Sunday,” says Msgr. Harrington. “With our daily prayer and our generous donation on World Mission Sunday,” he continues, “we all bear witness to the compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ, making Him present in every continent, country, city, family, and heart.”

A local perspective

Father Kevin Bazzel, diocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, recently had the opportunity to visit Tanzania, a country in eastern Africa, south of the equator. It is the home of Mount Kilimanjaro, beautiful safaris, and Zanzibar, also known as Spice Island. However, he remembers, “After only spending one week in the country, the extent of poverty in this nation is evident.” He added, “This is why the Church in Tanzania relies so heavily on the Pontifical Mission Societies.”

Father Bazzel knows that Tanzania is just one of the many countries which benefit from the generosity of the offerings of the people of God on World Mission Sunday. He also knows the importance of the gifts, for they “are transformed into an expression of faith in action.” “Missionaries, priests, religious men and women, catechists, and pastoral workers,” he says, “are enabled to fulfill the command of Christ to ‘make disciples of all nations’ (Mt. 28:19) while loving Christ in practical ways in the ‘least of these brothers.’” (cf. Mt. 25:40)

Most of us may not be able to personally perform this crucial missionary activity, intrinsic to the nature of the Church, yet Father Bazzel points out that participating in World Mission Sunday “provides us the opportunity to make sure that the command of Christ may be fulfilled in all parts of the globe.”

Want to help?

On the weekend Oct. 21-22, the Diocese of Birmingham will hold a second collection at each parish to support the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Donations can also be made on For more information, please e-mail