Mission office reaching ‘ends of the earth’ from Kansas City

Megan Marley

A religious community of sisters in India takes in girls sold as domestic or sex slaves, educating them, teaching them a trade and showing them their human value beyond their ability to provide a source of income.

A religious brother on mission in the Appalachian Mountains helped a poor but proud family living in a dirt floor shack receive a trailer home.

A missionary priest lives in a remote community in Bangladesh, serving as a life-saving resource and sounding board for the locals, even though they aren’t Christian.

These are just a few of the missions that can be helped by you, through the Missions office.

“The Missions Office is the office in the diocese that represents the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which is the arm of the Church that does missionary affairs. It was established in the 19th Century by Pauline Jaricot, who was a French woman who wanted to help the United States, which was missionary territory at the time,” explained Tara Harris, office secretary.

Jaricot’s organization grew from an organization that assisted with finding missionary priests and societies in coming to the United States into a Church-wide organization, with each diocese and archdiocese having an office to help support Pontifical Missions and missionary societies.

In this diocese, the office is under the direction of Fr. Charles Rowe, Vicar General for the Clergy, but many day-to-day tasks are under the care of Harris.

“The main work this office does is the Missionary Plan of Cooperation, which is an annual mission appeal that is coordinated at a diocesan level. We invite missionary societies to come and preach at assigned parishes, and the office takes in the money and distributes it to those missionary societies. It is a wonderful way for people in the church who are not able to go out into the missions to support the missions,” said Harris.

Additional activities of the Office include promoting awareness of the Church’s missionary nature each third Sunday of October on World Mission Sunday, running the Priests Purgatorial Society—arranging an annual Mass for all deceased priests of the diocese, maintaining their necrology and notifying all the priests when one has died—and sending Mass intentions and stipends to missionary priests when someone requests a Mass card for a special intention or the deceased. The office also serves as a contact point between individuals and missionary societies.

“If you’re looking for a group to donate to or to help, we have that information,” Harris said. “We also work as a resource for lay people who might be interested in missionary work, and we can direct them to groups that they might be interested in—like the LaSallian volunteers, the Jesuit volunteers, the Maryknolls.”

“Fr. Charles makes a point of working with the religious groups that have a presence of this diocese who also do missionary work; he’s also for supporting groups in this diocese, like A Simple House, to let the wider diocesan family know that this is happening and maybe you want to get involved,” she continued.

Harris also said that donating through the Missions office allows persons to donate without directly giving their contact information to a mission, and helps the Church track diocesan giving to missions.

“I hope that we’re able to give that knowledge to the laity that if they give a dollar, that dollar counts and is appreciated,” she said.

She spoke of how donating through the Church can sometimes have a better effect than through a secular organization when there’s a natural disaster, since the communities need to be rebuilt within themselves and outside relief shipments can depress local economies, making rebuilding even more difficult.

“If you gave to CRS or gave to a religious order, they’re already there and know who to talk to and what works and doesn’t work. We try to identify places like that where there’s a persistent need and missionary groups are working and need our support,” said Harris.

“Part of our baptismal call is to go and preach the gospel, to become missionaries, and our office can do that work—maybe you can’t physically go there, but if you know about the work we’re doing you are interested and become engaged that way,” she explained.

“In 99 percent of these cases, there’s no active proselytizing going on—this is strictly we’re called to show God’s love to each other in whatever way we can.”

“I love this work—I didn’t expect it when I started working here, but the more you work with it the more you thoroughly enjoy it and the more it opens up your eyes to what the Church does where it is. We’re literally everywhere, and doing everything,” she said.

For more information on the Mission Office or to get involved, contact Fr. Charles Rowe at rowe@diocesekcsj.org or Tara Harris at harris@diocesekcsj.org.

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Friday
September 20, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph