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Pope John Paul II reviews historic new website
of Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States

New website launched to inform, inspire and direct the faithful


ROME, Italy - As the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States (Society for the
Propagation of the Faith, Holy Childhood Association, Society of St. Peter Apostle, Missionary
Union of Priests and Religious) launched its new website February 21, while some 150 U.S.
directors and coordinators of these Societies gathered for their annual mission animation
meeting in Rome, Italy, Pope John Paul II reviewed this new site designed to bring the
faithful to a better understanding of their call to be missionary.

Also reviewing the historic first-ever website for this family of mission societies - - were Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith,
international president, as well as the Secretaries General of these mission societies.
Present as well - and a vital part of this mission meeting - was Bishop Gregory
Aymond of Austin, chair of the U.S. Bishops' World Mission Committee.
At a separate session during this annual meeting in Rome, U.S. mission directors and
coordinators reviewed the site, along with a plan to make it known among bishops,
priests, Religious educators, parish leaders and the faithful in general back at home.

"This is one of the most significant events in our organization's history," noted Father
John E. Kozar
, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.
"Just as Archbishop Sheen had television - making the story and message of the
Missions known through that then-new medium - today our medium is the Internet,
and we have a story to tell and a way to tell it compellingly. That is why we felt it
necessary to establish a strong presence on the worldwide web and to develop a site that
would inform, inspire and direct the faithful to a greater understanding of the universal
mission of the Catholic Church." The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen served as national
director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1951 to 1966.

"There is something for everyone on this site," explained Father Kozar, indicating that
visitors - young and old - will discover how they can be or are already missionaries.
"Bishops and priests can find out more about the Missions to help the faithful better
celebrate World Mission Sunday," he continued. "Educators can find ways to encourage
the missionary spirit among the youngest missionaries, our children."

The new site features information about this "family" of mission societies, defining and
distinguishing the particular nature and focus of each with regard to support for the
Church's mission among two-thirds of the human family. "We took great care to ensure
that when people visit our website they feel welcome - and see themselves as part of
our 'one family in mission,'" said Father Kozar, underscoring the thematic link of the

The home pages - one for each of the four Societies and one for the Pontifical Mission
Societies as a "family" - includes easy-to-navigate links to diocesan mission offices in
the United States, as well as to the national office. In addition, the site features links to
the "extended family" - the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops'
Committee on World Mission, and International Fides Service, the mission news agency of
the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Also included for each of the four
Societies are stories from the Missions, noting the help made possible through the
generosity of Catholics here and throughout the world.

Father Kozar emphasized that this family of mission societies sees this site as a "living
organism," constantly growing and changing to present the mission story and encourage
the missionary spirit in the most dynamic way possible. A particular emphasis will be
placed on reaching children with the message that "they are missionaries today," Father
Kozar said.

"Nothing, however, will ever replace human contact and while we see this as a way to
inform and inspire," he explained, "we see it also a means to direct visitors to their
parish priests, religious educators, diocesan mission directors and parents to learn more
about how to be a missionary."

The Pontifical Mission Societies annual meeting brings together those engaged in the
work of animating the missionary spirit and encouraging prayer and sacrifice in support
of more than 1,100 mission dioceses. This year's meeting, February 17 to 23 in Rome,
"takes place in the context of a pilgrimage," said Father Kozar. "We travel together as
missionaries seeking to better determine what God will have us do in this wonderful
ministry that we share. And what better place to do this than in the Eternal City of
Rome, the center of our faith, the missionary 'headquarters' of our work."

The Pontifical Mission Societies, active in some 120 countries throughout the world, work to animate the faithful to a universal missionary spirit, and to gather support for the efforts of the Church in some 1,100 mission dioceses in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands and remote regions of Latin America.

The four Pontifical Mission Societies are:
The Holy Childhood Association directs its efforts to elementary school children, while the Society for the Propagation of the Faith seeks prayer and support for pastoral and evangelizing programs of mission dioceses from high school and college students, and adults. The Propagation of the Faith provides assistance to the Church in Africa, Asia, the islands of the Pacific and remote regions of Latin America, including aid for the education and support of seminarians, Religious novices and lay catechists; for the work of Religious Communities in education, health care and social services, and for communication and transportation needs. The Society of St. Peter Apostle is concerned with gathering help for seminarians and Religious novices in the Missions. The Missionary Union of Priests and Religious is a spiritual apostolate, working on formation in the missionary spirit among those called to animate all the faithful in this essential work.