Friday, 6 June 2003

Rome (Fides Service) – On Saturday 14 June, to mark the 160th anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Society for Missionary Childhood, (1843-2003) thousands of children members of Missionary Childhood will pay a call on Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Basilica. On January 6 this year, feast of the Epiphany, the Holy Father sent a letter to children members of the Society encouraging them in their missionary activity,by listening to the Words of Jesus, taking part in Mass and showing solidarity with less fortunate boys and girls. He asked them to pray a Hail Mary every day, and the older ones to pray a daily Rosary. For 160 years Missionary Childhood Society has helped children all over the world to work with the Popes in their universal mission. As part of the Day of festivity and prayer on June 14, which has the theme “Here I am Lord, send me!” (Is 6,8), in front of the Pope the children will renew their promises to be missionaries to their peers.
Illustrating the event, Mgr Giuseppe Andreozzi, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Italy writes: “What we will experience, praying together, listening to the words of the Pope, colouring the streets of Rome with the variegated presence of our groups to tell everyone our joy at being friends of Jesus and our desire to announce to the whole world his Gospel of peace, will be a unique and marvellous manner of completing the formative journey during this year…In 160 years of missionary commitment, the desire of children the world over to be together apostles of Jesus has not wavered. While we tell the Holy Father all this, we are sure that he too, the first missionary, will once again understand, welcome and encourage us!”.
The programmes is as follows: 9am arrival in St Peter’s Square and welcome party; 10am celebration of Mass in St Peter’s Basilica presided by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; 11.30am meeting with Pope John Paul II; 1pm picnic lunch; 3.30pm missionary rosary prayer in Paul VI Hall; 4.30pm departure. SL (Fides Service 6/6/2003 EM lines 24 Words: 322)

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