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Mission Society founder nearer to sainthood

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LYON, France — Pauline Marie Járicot, the founder of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, was beatified May 22 during a Mass in Lyon, France.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, presided over the liturgy, which was concelebrated by many bishops and priests from around the world.

In his homily, Cardinal Tagle told the faithful, “Pauline Járicot was a woman who loved Jesus Christ, letting Him, the Word of God, live, act, love in her and through her. We see in her a living testimony of the power of love for Jesus, a love that identifies with Jesus.”

Járicot led a life dedicated to evangelization and the missions. While still in her teens, she founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which supports the Church’s mission-related projects with prayer, animation and finance.

The story of Pauline Járicot begins in France in the early 19th century, where, in the aftermath of the French Revolution, she was inspired by letters about the missions from her brother, Phileas. She began to gather small groups together (“Circles of 10”), mostly workers in her family’s silk factory, asking each member of the group to offer daily prayer and a weekly sacrifice of a sous (the equivalent of a penny at that time) for the Church’s worldwide missionary work.

From Járicot’s vision came the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the first of the four Pontifical Mission Societies. The very first collection for the Propagation of the Faith in 1822 supported the growth of the young Church in the United States. Today, support from the Propagation of the Faith reaches some 1,100 mission dioceses around the world, in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and remote regions of Latin America and Europe.

“Pauline Járicot’s vision that started in a small town in France has now become one of the largest missionary outreach organizations to touch all the corners of the earth,” said Brother Dennis Gunn, CFC, PhD, a professor at Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y. “What an amazing witness of the power of one person to transform the whole world!”

The Pontifical Mission Societies are active in some 120 countries throughout the world. They work to animate the faithful to a universal missionary spirit, and to gather support for the Church’s work in mission dioceses. There are four Pontifical Mission Societies:

  • the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, which encourages prayer and support for pastoral and evangelizing programs of mission dioceses from adults, as well as high school and college students;
  • the Missionary Childhood Association, which raises awareness about the missions among elementary school children and seeks prayers and support for outreach to children in the missions;
  • the Society of St. Peter Apostle, which gathers help for seminarians and religious novices in the missions; and
  • the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious, a spiritual apostolate to form and to deepen the missionary spirit among those called to animate all the faithful in the missionary task.

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