Who We Are:
The Saint Cloud Mission Office carries the primary responsibility of promotion of the global outreach of the Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud. We carry this out in numerous ways, including participating in programs of the Pontifical Mission Societies and Catholic Relief Services, as well as our Global Solidarity Partnerships with the Dioceses of Homa Bay, Kenya and Maracay, Venezuela and our many other Global Connections. The overall goal of the office is to engage as many members of the diocese as possible in the global mission of Christ.
The office serves as a conduit for both people and monetary exchange with the missioners from our diocese as well as the numerous relationships we have with faith communities around the world. We encourage and support mission education curriculum and activities in our schools and Faith Formation programs, the World Mission Rosary, sister parish relationships, our mission Speakers Bureau, the Missionary Cooperation Plan, the sharing of Mass stipends and prayers throughout the world, parish mission groups and the encouragement of mission vocations.
The St. Cloud Mission Office also serves as an advocate and small outlet for Fair Trade sales. The Office has a selection of Fair Trade coffees from various countries, chocolates, hot cocoa, artisan crafts, jewelry, etc. In addition, we also carry many items made and donated by the approximately 125 Mission Groups in parishes throughout the diocese; these items include quilts, baby quilts, embroidered dishtowels, rosaries, and more.
The most important thing for you to know is that our ministry is about building right relationships with God and with others. It is about transformation: healing ourselves and our world; building up the Reign of God. A profound realization that our own salvation is linked with the salvation of others guides our spirit and our work. For as the missionary document from Vatican II, Ad Gentes, states, we go to God “not just singly, apart from any mutual bond,” but molded together as a people, made one by the Spirit.
Continue scrolling in order to find out more about how we carry out our work!
What Is Mission?
Mission is Relationship, Solidarity and Communion.....
Mission has changed a lot over the years as the Church has evolved and learned more about culture and our inter-connectedness as part of one universal church and one global family. Old stereotypes of mission being only for priests or religious, being a life-long journey to another country, and being about converting other cultures to our faith and our cultural ways are no longer acceptable. The Second Vatican Council document Ad Gentes described the Church as “missionary by her very nature” (2) and explains that mission is part of our baptismal promises. This means that all baptized are called to be missioners. For some this will mean traveling to other parts of the world, while for others it means welcoming guests and strangers here, and for others it means supporting mission efforts through prayer or sacrifice. Regardless of how we live it out, we are all called to mission!
Mission is no longer an “us above them” or “material wealth-and-poverty” dichotomy; we now see that everyone has wealth to share, and we too have poverty that we need others’ gifts for. Peoples, cultures and faith communities are called to MUTUAL exchanges of gifts and relationships. As Bishops from around the world have often stated, “No church is so poor that it has nothing to give; and no church is so rich that it has nothing to receive.”
In addition to Ad Gentes, another guiding document we turn to in understanding mission was put out by the United States Bishops; “Called to Global Solidarity” helps us see our brothers and sisters all over the world as just that – family. It challenges us to walk in solidarity and relationship with others, rather than seeing them as mere statistics or as nameless/faceless/story-less issues we only throw money at or easily ignore in times of both joy and struggle in their lives. Solidarity, one of the themes of our Catholic social teachings, reminds us that we are all CONNECTED; this word, when understood in terms of connectedness and relationships, in terms of walking together with others, is the best model of mission. The Bishops document reminds us again that solidarity and mission are the call and baptismal responsibility of all Catholics, not simply a few agencies or committees- but every parish, every believer. How are you answering the call?
And why do these documents and our Church leaders stress solidarity and the call of all to mission? Simply put, we were created in the image of a Triune God. Our God is made up of three persons, each with their own gifts and charisms, yet each giving to and receiving from the other, completing and being completed by the other. And when God created humans, it was done in God’s own image – not that God has human physical form, but man and woman were created because God’s image is a relational one, one who longs to be with and share with others, and so too we were created along with others that we are called to be in relationship with. If truly living out our divine image, we cannot help but be relational and respectful and walk and share in mutual ways with others! Our belief in the Eucharist too calls us to mission; as we say “Amen” to the Body and Blood of Christ we receive at Mass, so to we are to be saying “Yes!” to the body of Christ in our world and communion with others.
Pontifical Mission Societies
One Family in Mission...
The St. Cloud Mission Office’s legal name is “Society for the Propagation of the Faith.” It is our job to promote the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), serving the evangelization and pastoral needs of our brothers and sisters in faith in the dioceses in most need around the globe.
The Pontifical Mission Societies are the organizations, under the direction of the Holy Father, that work for the promotion of mission spirit and mission work in every Roman Catholic diocese throughout the world. There are four societies (listed below) that take on this great work. Aside from the leadership of the Holy Father, each country has a national director (in New York for the United States), and each diocese appoints a diocesan director (The Mission Office for St. Cloud Diocese) to help promote and facilitate the workings and funds of the Pontifical Mission Societies. We are all One Family in Mission, and PMS calls us to recognize our baptismal call as part of this mission family and to act upon this call!
The Four Pontifical Mission Societies:
Society for the Propagation of the Faith (SPOF): The propagation of the Faith seeks prayer, sacrifice and financial support for the Church’s missionary work, and provides ongoing help for the pastoral and evangelizing programs in Africa, Asia, the islands of the Pacific, and remote regions of Latin America. This includes 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; for communication and transportation needs in various dioceses, and for emergency and disaster relief, when necessary. SPOF is supporting the church’s needs around the world!
Society of St. Peter the Apostle (SPA): The Society of St. Peter the Apostle encourages prayer and financial help specifically for vocations to the priesthood and religious life in areas around the world unable to provide formation without assistance for the many feeling called to vocations. SPA is building up leaders for the global church!
Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) (formerly known in the US as “Holy Childhood Association”): MCA helps to animate children in kindergarten through eighth grade to a universal missionary spirit and to gather funds and prayers from these young people for the support of mission efforts that serve the poorest of the world’s children. MCA fosters kids helping their young peers!
Missionary Union of Priests and Religious: The Missionary Union is a spiritual apostolate that informs and forms priests, Religious men and women, pastoral leaders and those responsible for catechesis and religious education so that they may better animate others in the missionary spirit. It is Clergy and Religious supporting others on their mission journey!
To find out more about the Pontifical Mission Societies, and how you can utilize their resources, support their efforts or otherwise be involved in their pastoral work throughout the world, visit the PMS website at www.missio.org
World Mission Sunday
World Mission Sunday takes place every October, and is recognized in dioceses, parishes and chapels all over the world as a way to pray for and support the mission efforts of the Roman Catholic Church in some of the most in-need areas of the globe. World Mission Sunday 2020 takes place the weekend of Oct 16th/17th.
The Pontifical Mission Societies in the US are the pastoral arm of our church; therefore it is up to all of us to support this work – through prayer and through financial support. The majority of PMS’s funding comes from donations, including estates, from the Catholic faithful like you and me.
One large source of these donations is the World Mission Sunday collection. This collection takes place the third Sunday in October each year. Every Catholic Parish throughout the world should be praying in a special way for our global brothers and sisters on this special day. In addition to the prayer and celebration of our universal faith, a collection is also taken up for the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Special envelopes should be in your parish membership contribution packets; if you do not see one, be sure to ask your parish how you can contribute or contact the Mission Office to share in this important collection.
Other financial support comes from you answering the call to support a few special appeals each year! These appeals are primarily the Advent/Christmas appeal each December and the St. Peter the Apostle appeal each summer. You can also contribute to the Pontifical Mission Societies through our office’s giving site at GiveMN.org. Without your generous gifts at the time of these direct appeals, and throughout the remainder of the year, the wonderful missionary work of our church world-wide would not be possible. Thank you!
The Mission Office in conjunction with PMS
All of our work of mission support and promotion stems from our mandate through the Pontifical Mission Societies to enter into the evangelizing work of Christ by sharing in the spreading of faith to those all over our world.
Our office does a variety of work for the Pontifical Mission Societies, including but not limited to:
Passing on funds donated to the various Pontifical Mission Societies (listed above)
Promoting the work of the various Pontifical Mission Societies
Writing and sending appeals for the work of St. Peter the Apostle, as well as our Advent/Christmas appeal for the general work of the Pontifical Mission Societies
Promoting the work of the Missionary Childhood Association in the schools and faith formation programs, as well as other mission education encouragement among the young people of our diocese
Promotion of World Mission Sunday and celebrating Mission Month in October each year, including a special mission supplement in the Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine each fall
Encouraging the making and praying of World Mission Rosaries, a special global prayer developed by former National PMS director Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Encouraging mission vocations, of clergy, religious and laity
Support of those who have answered the call to a mission vocation overseas
Catholic Relief Services
Giving Hope to a World of Need
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the development arm of the U.S. Catholic Church in the world. It is founded and run by the U.S. Catholic Bishops, and the continuation of its work relies on the church in the U.S. – meaning the people of the Catholic Church – meaning you and me! When we speak of CRS, we are talking about our presence in the world.
CRS focuses on areas of development in 99 countries around the world; they also partner with other agencies (such as Caritas, dioceses, and religious congregations) who are already present in order to provide services in additional countries where CRS is not directly located, thus having a world-wide presence. They strive for emergency and disaster relief, empowerment of peoples, sustainable solutions to poverty and vulnerability, and global solidarity.
The Mission Office in conjunction with CRS
Our St. Cloud Mission Office serves as the diocesan office for CRS, with Fr. Bill Vos as Diocesan Director. We act as a conduit for funds from you to CRS, and from CRS to our diocese (such as Rice Bowl locally allocated funds). We also serve as a bridge between CRS staff world-wide and the many resources, curriculum tools, speakers and stories that CRS produces, to the people of St. Cloud Diocese who are interested in learning, hearing and doing more.
We also carry out the mission of CRS to bring justice and sustainable grassroots development and empowerment to the people of the world who are most vulnerable. One way in which we do this is through the sale of Fair Trade chocolates, coffee, tea and other food items from a CRS initiative, as well as other Fair Trade items.
St. Cloud has been extremely involved in the work of CRS over the years, and vice-versa. Bishop John Kinney (1937-2019), former bishop of St. Cloud Diocese from 1995 to 2013, served on the Catholic Relief Services’ Board of Directors, and was very supportive of the organization and the work that they do. CRS has also supported us; it was in conjunction with CRS’s Global Solidarity department that we were able to begin our Global Solidarity Partnership with the Diocese of Homa Bay, Kenya in 1999. Here are a few highlights of what St. Cloud and CRS have done together:
CRS and Homa Bay. During the summer of 2006, Bishop Kinney accompanied 14 representatives from the Diocese of St. Cloud on a delegation visit to our sister Diocese of Homa Bay, Kenya. While there the group took the opportunity to visit several CRS programs, such as the metal silo project (see below), HIV/AIDS nutrition programs, agriculture programs and other health initiatives. CRS has been directly involved in facilitating this partnership and we look at their in-country personnel as our representatives “on the ground.”
Silo Project. One unique CRS project that was funded by the Diocese of St. Cloud a few years ago was the introduction of metal grain storage silos. The 2006 delegation visited a large girls’ secondary school where they have purchased about 20 of the larger silos to store the corn and beans that provide the everyday staple food for the school. The Sister in charge indicated that these silos have not only been a great economic boost but also enhanced the quality of the food. When the food was previously stored in gunny sacks the spoilage lead to bad meals, even leading to a student food strike! This St. Cloud sponsored project was the only one of its kind in all of Africa and it is now spreading into other countries.
CRS and HIV/AIDS. Another CRS success story involves the programs responding to HIV/AIDS patients. Because it has such a solid reputation, CRS is the lead organization in receiving US government HIV/AIDS funding. The program that Bishop Kinney and the 2006 delegation visited at one Catholic hospital was a very impressive indication of how these funds are so effectively used by CRS. At this hospital an entire wing has been set up to test, give counseling and provide treatment, including the antiretroviral drugs.
CRS has also helped our partner Diocese of Homa Bay and our Diocese set-up a joint project focused on helping orphans and vulnerable children who had been affected by HIV/AIDS, which we refer to as the Child Survival Project. This project was completed in 2016.
Ongoing Partnership Support. Catholic Relief Services is a forerunner in resources on Global Solidarity Partnerships and a model of solidarity that includes mutuality versus sponsorship. CRS continues to provide support and resources for the Mission Office and parishes or groups in the diocese looking to do partnering and do it well. Partnership_Manual (PDF)
CRS – South Sudan. Bishop Kinney and Fr. Bill Vos (past Mission Office director and current CRS Diocesan Director) also had the opportunity to participate in an extended session of the annual Episcopal Conference meeting in Juba, Sudan in 2006. This was a historic event since it was the first time in over 20 years that the Bishops could actually hold their meeting within their country. And CRS made the visit possible. In fact the Bishops meeting was held on the CRS compound. The role that CRS is playing in the post-war reconstruction efforts continues to be very important.
With programs in 99 countries, reaching about 75 million people, the good news is that 95% of the half billion dollar annual budget goes to programs, just 5 % for administration. A large portion of CRS’s budget comes from grant money, such as U.S.A.I.D. funds. Another percentage comes from appeals and donations. An additional portion of these donations comes from the Catholic church – that means us! Each Lent we are all given two great opportunities to support the work of Catholic Relief Services. The CRS Collection (formerly known as the Bishops Oversees Appeal) is taken up the weekend of the 3rd Sunday of Lent each year. Often envelopes for this collection are found in members packets; if you don’t see one, be sure to ask your parish if they participate in the CRS collection and how you can contribute to it.
The second Lenten giving opportunity is Rice Bowl. This is a collection gathered in homes and schools throughout the entire 40 days of Lent; Rice Bowl also provides educational resources, information on various countries where CRS works, and strives to connect us with our brothers and sisters around the world who are struggling from hunger. Rice Bowl funds are used solely for hunger-related work both locally and globally. It is especially important to note that 25% of the funds collected in our diocese through Rice Bowl which come into the Mission Office are kept locally within the diocese; this 25% is given as grants to parishes and organizations within our diocese who are addressing food and hunger-related problems locally. The remaining 75% of Rice Bowl funds go to CRS for broader global hunger needs. What better way to help our brothers and sisters BOTH near and far?!
Local Rice Bowl Grants
25% of all funds given to Rice Bowl during Lent are kept right here in the St. Cloud Diocese to be used as grants to local parishes and organizations working on hunger-related relief for Central Minnesota!
If you work with or know of an organization working to alleviate hunger and poverty, share the following Local Rice Bowl Grant Application with them:
Note: While you are welcome to apply at any time, funds will not be distributed until after Rice Bowl collections come in and we know what total is available, so please be patient and know that you likely will not receive your grant until the Spring.
Thank you to all who support Rice Bowl with your financial gifts, and to all of those in our diocese and around the world working to help alleviate hunger and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in need!