CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF MAKURDI
THE PONTIFICAL MISSION SOCIETIES (PMS)
Diocesan Director: Fr. Shango Alexander
Pontifical Mission Societies
Catholic Bishop's House, P.O.BOX. Makurdi Benue State
WHAT IS PMS?
PMS is an acronym for pontifical mission societies. It is the organization of four different societies which have the singular objectives of developing the church by supporting missions and missionaries in the work of evangelization. They also have as their purpose, the promotion of a universal missionary spirit; a spirit of power, sacrifice and fund raising to support worldwide catholic mission. Pontifical mission societies (PMS) have four arms which were founded at different times by different people with different charismatic initiatives. They have been given the responsibility by the pope (hence the name 'pontifical') to support the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of charity and social improvement around the world.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE FOUR BRANCHES OF PMS
Pontifical mission society for the propagation of the faith (POF). This society was founded by Pauline Marie jaricot on 3rd may, 1822 at Lyon in France. It was on this date that Pius XI declared the society for the propagation of the truth. It has its aims: 1. To maintain in the church the spirit of Pentecost, which opened the apostle to the far ends of the earth and made them "missionaries" (envoys)? In fact, it is the universal spirit that belongs to the very nature of the church. 2. To encourage participation in the proclamation of the Gospel with the example of one's own life and with the contribution of one's own professional and productive human potentialities also presented in monetary offerings. 3. To encourage the faithful to give first place prayer and spiritual sacrifice for mission.
Pontifical Mission Society of the Holy Childhood Association (HCA)
The pontifical mission society of holy childhood association was founded by Msgr Charles August Marie de Forbin-Janson on 19th May, 1843 in Nancy, France. This society seeks to help educators to awaken and gradually develop in both children and adolescents worldwide missionary consciousness, and material sharing children help children. The holy childhood association proposes that, for love of Jesus and in order to imitate Him, children should make the ideal of their life the call to mission and saves children by making them children of God I n order to become complete persons. Children become missionaries and make other children missionaries.
The Pontifical Mission Society of St Peter the Apostle (SPA)
This society was born in France in 1886, founded by Miss Jeanne Bigard. It is particularly concerned with one of the most urgent necessities for the progress of evangelization; education and formation of local clergy through the construction and maintenance of seminaries in mission lands. It seeks to make Christians aware of the need to pray for growth in the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the local churches of the mission territories and to contribute towards that. this is in line with the mandate of Jesus," the harvest is rich, but laborers are few. So asks the lord of the harvest to send more laborers into the harvest (Matt.9:37-38) The Pontifical Missionary Union of Priest and Religious (PMU) This union was founded by Blessed Father Paolo Manna in Italy and recognized by Pope Benedict XV on 31st October, 1916. PMU mobilizes all priest and religious as well as candidates to the priest hood and religious life for increased awareness of their responsibility for the mission: to put the church in a state of mission. In this apostolic Letter "Graves et increscentes", on the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the PMU, Pope Paul VI defined the pontifical Missionary Union (PMC) as "the soul of the other mission aid societies".
PMS IN NIGERIA
The exact date to which the birth of the pontifical mission societies in Nigeria could be pinned is not known. But one can deduce that it started with the arrival of the early missionaries in what is today known as Nigeria. It is common knowledge in the history of the Catholic Church in Nigeria that the congregation for the propagation of the faith, under which the four pontifical mission societies function, was solidly behind the activities of the early missionaries in Nigeria. During those early years of evangelization, missionaries were sustained with funds coming from the pontifical mission societies. However, those societies were not distinctively known as such in Nigeria. With the setting up of the catholic bishops conference of Nigeria and consequently, the catholic secretariat of Nigeria things began to take shape. Whosoever was made the secretary General of the secretariat, also handled the affairs of the pontifical mission societies. The first National Director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in Nigeria was Msgr. John Ogbonna. He was appointed as he was ending his last tenure as secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat in 1985, and he served in this capacity from 1985 1987.
It was during his tenure as the National Director, that the dates for the celebration of the various arms of the PMS were selected and approved by the Catholic Bishops' conference of Nigeria.
1. Pontification Society for the propagation of the Faith world Mission Sunday in October.
2. Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostles Good Shepherd Sunday which is usually the 4th Sunday of Easter.
3. Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood Association - on Epiphany Sunday in January.
4. Pontifical Missionary Union of clergy and religious Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in June.
PMS in Nigeria has maintained these dates to this day except for the Holy Childhood which was moved to the Sunday nearest to 2nd February. In 1988, Msgr. Bernard Okodua was appointed to replace the late Msgr John Ogbonna. Msgr. Hypolite Adigwe took over from Msgr Okodua in1999 and served for a period of ten years until in 2009 when the present national director, very Revd Fr. George Segun Ajana was appointed.
SYRUCTURAL ORGANIZATION OF PMS
The first step of the organization centers in the parish. Each parish has a PMS committee whose work is to coordinate all the PMS activities in the Parish. From there, it sets down to stations and wards where similar committee function, according to the need of each area. For the Holy Childhood, it moves into schools, giving every child the opportunity to participate in the school-based HCA. The second step is the Diocesan level. Here, it his headed by a diocesan director appointed by the diocesan Bishop. The director work with a council and May established committees at the zonal or Deanery levels for more effective animation and coordination. The third step is the provincial level. Each of the nine ecclesiastical provinces in Nigeria has a provincial PMS council made up of the Diocesan Directors and a few others. At the National level, it is headed by the National Director appointed by Rome on the recommendation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria. He works with the PMS National council made up of all the diocesan Directors and secretaries of the four arms of the PMS. In addition, each of the four arms of the PMS has a working committee headed by the secretary of that society. The Holy childhood has the meeting of all diocesan coordinators which assists the secretary and the director in the planning and execution of the HCA programs. The PMS work in close collaboration with the National Missionary council of Nigeria, of the Department of Mission and dialogue (CSN), Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). The Bishop Chairman of this department is the "eye" of the CBCN at the PMS. At the International Level, then PMS is directly under the congregation of the evangelization of people. It is the congregation that appoints the National Director of each Country. The National Director is a member of the superior Council of the PMS which meets every year in the month of May in Rome.
PMS COLLECTIONS HOLY LAND
This collection that is taken on Good Friday after the Stations of the Cross is called Holy land collection. This collection is made to assist the Franciscans who have been in the holy land since 1209, walking in Jesus' footsteps, caring for the poor, educating young people, providing scholarships, protecting the holy sites, educating pastoral ministries and keeping Christianity alive. The continued existence of the programs of the Franciscans in the holy land depends the blessing and financial support which comes from churches all over the Catholic world on Good Friday. So as Catholics remember the death of Jesus on Good Friday, they also are asked to remember the Christians who still live in the land where Jesus lived and to aid them so that they will preserve the sites associated with the life of Jesus.
Peter's pence is the name given to the financial support offered by the faithful to the Holy Father as a sign of their sharing in the concern of the successor of Peter for the many different needs of the universal Churches and for the relief of those most in need because of natural disaster, war, oppression and disease. It unites us in solidarity to the Holy Sea and it works of charity to those in need. It is payment made more or less voluntarily to the Roman Catholic Church.
This collection is taken in the diocese on 3rd Sunday of June
World Mission Sunday, organized by the society for the propagation of the of the faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the church's missionary activity through prayer and financial support. World Mission Sunday is celebrated annually in a month of October. According to pope John Paul 11, World Mission Sunday is "an important day in the life of the church because it teaches how to give as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the mission of the world (Redemtoris Mission 81). Your monitory contribution to the propagation of the faith of the world mission Sunday and throughout the year help support pastoral and evangelizing programs, catechist and catechetical work, the building churches and chapels, the work of religious communities in health care and education, and communication and transportation needs. All the monies collected on Mission Sunday are to be submitted to the Diocesan Chancery.
GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY (4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER)
Good Shepherds Sunday is also called vocations Sunday. On this Sunday, we have the mandate to pray and encourage vocation to the priesthood and religious life. A second collection is therefore taken to support the society of st. Peter the Apostle in the building seminaries across the world and training more seminarians for the catholic priesthood. This collection is to be taken in Missions, Chaplaincies, Parishes and schools; the one made by seminarians is to be sent against their names to the national office of PMS for onward remission to the Holy See.
Holy childhood collection comes up on February every year to assist the Holy childhood Association in Rome that provides materials to educate children regarding missionaries around the world. It is by this worldwide contribution that the Holy See is able to send annually a subside to dioceses who apply, to organized programs and activities that will address the needs of children.
DIOCESAN PMS COLLECTION
This collection is taken on the second Sunday of August in all churches in the diocese to help the Local Ordinary to efficiently fund the programs of PMS in the diocese.