These words describe the many Seminarians, Religious Sisters & Brothers who serve in the Missions around the world. A small community on China’s Silk Road provides an ideal example. 400 of its 660 inhabitants are Catholic, well over the Chinese national average of one percent. This small village, Zan Jia Cun in the Diocese of Zhouzhi, has joyfully nurtured 14 vocations to the Church in recent years. As a result of its abundance of faith-filled callings, Zhouzhi is known as “the diocese of vocations.” The pastor of the village says, “Many people ask us what our secret is. To tell you the truth, we do not know whether it amounts to a secret or not. We intensely live out our faith. The families of the village and surrounding areas pray together daily. Mass and prayer meetings on Saturday and Sunday are fixed appointments for all.”
These daily witnesses in Zhouzhi provide the base for evangelization, and at the same time, encourage vocations. “Children are educated according to religious principles. The Sisters of the Sacred Heart keep up their formation with the catechism and teaching of religion,” the village priest observed. He continued, “Here there is never the need to prepare a list for the evenings of Eucharistic Adoration because the church is always full, 24 hours a day.”
The Pontifical Mission Society of St. Peter Apostle supports the formation of these joy filled, happy and enthusiastic men and women candidates for Religious life in the Missions. In its first year, in 1889, the Society of St. Peter Apostle sent help to 2,700 Seminarians in the Missions, including some in the United States. Today, over 30,000 young men in seminaries throughout Africa, Asia and receive $700 for their education and board. There is similar support provided for Religious Sisters & Brothers.
Throughout the Missions, local Seminarians, Religious Sisters & Brothers and lay catechists offer food, clothing, shelter, medicine, education, companionship – and the compassion and hope of Jesus to the poor and most vulnerable. “Our work is now and will always be about every moment of everyday,” explains a seminarian from the Zhouzhi Formation & Theology Center, “Some ask us why we are so joy-filled and happy, and we respond because we have faith!”
A donation of $60 provides a month’s formation to help Seminarians & Religious answer the call of God to serve those most in need in young & poor Mission dioceses.
Please help support, through your prayer & sacrifices, the education of these candidates for the Religious life in the Missions. A year’s help for a Mission Seminarian is $700. Perhaps you could offer something toward that amount – maybe a month’s help of $60, three month’s help of $180? Please know that any and all gifts make a difference, and are very gratefully received.
Pope Francis reminds us of our responsibility to foster vocations: “No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love.” Just like in the village of Zhouzhi, the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia can be joy-filled and happy people because we have faith. And it is through our sacrifices that we can help plant the seed for vocations around the world.
Prayerfully consider a donation to the Pontifical Mission Society of St. Peter Apostle which offers a concrete way for you to respond to the invitation of Pope Francis. It is an invitation to live out and witness our faith, to proclaim the Gospel to those who do not yet know the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Together we can help the people build their Church, and the Kingdom of God on earth, so that more people across the world can experience the grace, joy, peace and hope of our loving God.