Rome (Agenzia Fides) - On the occasion of the Fifth American Missionary Congress (CAM 5) which will be celebrated in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, from 10 to 14 July (see Fides 3 and 4/7/2018), here is some information on the main missionary institutes born in America, which have given a significant contribution to the mission ad Gentes, as witnessed, among other things, by the Sisters of Maryknoll, who were the first group of Catholic nuns in the United States to work abroad, and by father John Fraser, founder of the Scarboro Foreign Missions Society, the first North American missionary priest in China.
Society for the Foreign Missions of the United States of America (Maryknoll) (MM)
In 1911 the Bishops of the United States of America gave birth to the "Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America", with the aim of supporting US missionaries abroad. On 29 June 1911 Pope Pius X blessed the foundation of the Foreign Missions Society of Maryknoll: the first missionaries left for China in 1918. Today they are 321, including 276 priests, the religious of Maryknoll work in 22 nations of Asia, Africa and America.
The Sisters of Maryknoll, founded in 1912, were the first group of Catholic nuns in the United States to work abroad. Today they are 414 and operate in 24 nations of Asia, Africa and America. They carry out their mission of bearing witness to the love of God in a variety of fields, including health and medicine, communications, education and teaching, agriculture, environmental protection, social services, human rights, the promotion of women, spiritual formation ...
The Maryknoll Lay Missioners are single, married couples and whole families who respond to the missionary call to live and work with the poorest communities in Asia, Africa and America. They were officially founded in 1975, behind the impetus of the Second Vatican Council, even though already in 1930 the first lay person linked to the Maryknolls began his missionary service in China.
The Marykolloll Affiliates, while continuing to follow their own path of life, commit themselves to achieving the goals of Maryknoll's missionaries through prayer, reflection and action. They testify mission as a way of life, walking with the poor and the excluded, and fighting for peace and justice. The Affiliates gather in over 50 small missionary communities scattered throughout the United States, America, Asia and Africa.
Scarboro Foreign Missions Society (SFM)
Founded in Ottawa (Canada) in 1918 by Fr. John Fraser, a priest from the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Scarboro Foreign Missions Society had as its first aim to prepare and send priests to China. In 1902 Fraser Fraser, who had been ordained a priest the previous year, left for China, for the diocese of Ningpo: he was the first North American missionary priest in China. In 1921 the missionary college moved from Ottawa to the town of Scarborough (Ontario), from which the institute took its name. Fraser alternated long periods in China, where he had been joined by his priests, with stays at home to follow the development of the Institute. In 1952 all the missionaries were forced to leave China and went to other countries. Fr. Fraser founded a new mission in Japan, where he worked tirelessly to build churches and schools. In 1962, at the age of 85, he died in Osaka and was buried in that cemetery. Since the 1970s, following the indications of the Second Vatican Council and the expectations of the Catholic laity, the institute began to welcome lay people (men, women and families), who today work side by side with the priests and in collaboration with other missionary institutes. Today the missionaries of Scarboro are 35 (30 priests) present in Asia and America.
Institute for Foreign Missions of Yarumal (MXY)
This Society of Apostolic Life was founded by the Bishop of Santa Rosa de Osos (Colombia), Mgr. Miguel Angel Builes, in 1927. Three years earlier, the Bishop had participated in the First National Missionary Congress in Bogota, where he had proposed to start a missionary Institute. After reflecting, praying, and asking for advice, on June 29, 1927, the Bishop signed the decree of erection of the Mission Seminary, which would begin in Yarumal under conditions of economic hardship. In fact, it survived thanks to the abnegation of the first members and of the Bishop, who knocked on every door to ask for help. On 25 September 1938, in the parish church of Yarumal, Mgr. Builes ordained the first 7 priests. In 1946 the Holy See created the Apostolic Prefecture of Labateca, entrusting it to the missionaries of Yarumal. In 1949 they were also entrusted with the then Apostolic Prefecture of Mitù. In 1953 the first two Bishops of the institute were appointed. In 1970 the Missionaries of Yarumal began to leave their country and went to Bolivia and Venezuela. The institute also welcomes, as temporary associates, diocesan priests who intend to provide missionary service in Colombia or elsewhere. Today the Missionaries of Yarumal are 180 (150 priests) in 45 communities in America, Africa, Asia and Europe. In 2015 the Association of Lay Missionaries of Yarumal was officially born.
Society for Foreign Missions of the Province of Québec (PME)
Blessed Mgr. François de Laval, the first Bishop of Québec, who had been one of the founders of the Society for the Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP), wanted the first seminary built in Québec to be called "Seminary for Foreign Missions". The Society for Foreign Missions of the Province of Québec was founded on 2 February 1921 and approved by the Holy See on 15 June 1929. Its purpose is the evangelization of non-Christians and the poor. The members of the Society are currently engaged in parish ministry, in the formation of the clergy, in the animation of the basic ecclesial communities especially among the aboriginal peoples and in the rural suburbs. The members of the Society are 113 (108 priests), present with 10 communities in America, Africa and Asia.
Institute of Santa Maria di Guadalupe for Foreign Missions (MG)
The "Missionaries of Guadalupe" consecrate life at the service of mission and are devoted to the "Virgin of Guadalupe". The institute was founded by the Mexican Episcopate in 1949, in order to form and send missionaries to non-Christian Countries indicated by the Holy Father. Pope Pius XII approved the constitutions of the new Institute in 1953 and appointed Mgr. Alonso Manuel Escalante (1906-1967), who had been a missionary in China and Bolivia, and professor at the Major Seminary of Maryknoll as first Rector of the Seminary and Superior General of the new Institute. Mgr. Escalante was also appointed National Director of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith and of St. Peter the Apostle, a position he held until his death. The institute counts 205 missionaries (160 priests) scattered in 63 communities of Africa, Asia and America.
The Missionaries of Guadalupe have opened their institute to diocesan priests who wish to carry out missionary activities ad gentes, and are also involved in the various fields of missionary animation in Mexico: courses of missiology, spiritual retreats, missiology laboratories, preparation and dissemination of missionary material. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 6/7/2018)