When The Society for the Propagation of the Faith was founded in Lyon, France, in 1822, its first collection supported missions in the United States and China.

The international association coordinates assistance for Catholic missionary priests, brothers and nuns in mission areas and is the oldest of four Pontifical Mission Societies of the Catholic Church.

The Holy See has established these Pontifical Mission Societies, which form one institution with four branches: Propagation of the Faith, Holy Childhood Association,

St. Peter Apostle and Missionary Union.

Under the direction of Congregation for the Evangelization of People and the bishops, the Pontifical Mission Societies exists now in more than 120 countries.

Father Roger Charbonneau is the Burlington diocesan director for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. “I consider it important for Vermont Catholics to take part in the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith because it truly brings out how universal and catholic our faith is,” he said. “It asks us to put our faith in action and help to heed well the request of Jesus Himself who told His apostles and all of us: ‘Go, therefore, and makes disciples of all nations.’ Our response to Jesus’ request needs to be much larger than only our own Diocese here in Vermont.”

The Society for the Propagation of the Faith provides financial support to mission bishops for day-to-day expenses and special projects. It supports pastoral and evangelizing programs, catechists and catechetical work, building churches and chapels and the work of religious communities in health care and education. It also assists with communication and transportation needs.

“The wonderful thing about the Society for the Propagation of the Faith is that it has direct contact with Catholic leaders in so many parts of our world, and we are there present and able to respond to needs,” Father Charbonneau said.

He encourages Catholics of the Diocese of Burlington to participate in the work of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith by their prayers for the success of the works undertaken to promote the Catholic faith worldwide and by sharing their resources to help with the programs the society sponsors. “When we do so, we are clearly responding positively to Jesus’s request of making disciples of all nations,” he said. “We will also be getting a sense of accomplishment because we are helping make good things happen in our world.”

Dioceses support appeals each year in Lent, summer and Advent.

The Mission Co-op program organizes the once-in-three-years mission that each parish is asked to host.

It enables priests, brothers and sisters who engage in the missionary work of spreading the Catholic faith in all parts of the world to send a representative to speak to the people of Vermont parishes about the work they do in the countries they serve. A special collection is taken at the weekend Masses when these representatives speak.

Some of the recent mission appeals have concentrated on helping with the costs of educating young men in African countries who are responding to God’s call to the priesthood. “It seems that they are more open to hearing the Lord’s call than young people here in America, especially in the last 20 to 30 years,” Father Charbonneau said. “We see the fruit of this support from the help that we have from foreign priests serving in our own Diocese. … [T]hey are willing to assist us in our needs for pastors here to keep many local churches viable and active.”

To learn more about these programs in Vermont, contact Nancy Lamothe at developmentspecialist@vermontcatholic.org.


—Originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.