Bengaluru: “Let the children come to me,” said MSGR Salvinu Micallef, International Secretary,Pontifical Mission Societies(PMS).(Mt. 19. 14).(Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”) Jesus was fond of children, he added.
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15,(Luke 18:17).
MSGR Salvinu who was speaking on the occasion of Holy Childhood Day celebrations told stories to children to drive home his message. In one of the stories he said, a snake climbed up a tree in a forest to catch young birds in a nest. The parent birds were making loud noise helplessly. This drew the attention of a mighty elephant that tried to scare off the snake by shaking the tree. He did not succeed. Sensing danger, some ants began to bite and sting the snake. The snake unable to bear the attack crawled down the tree. The children, though young and small, they are valuable and precious in God’s eye and in the society as they can do a lot. He also stressed the importance of children in the families, in the Church and in the world at large. MSGR who was the chief guest appealed to elders to help children in their difficulties of various nature. Their role in shaping the future in anything is great and imperative as they are also little missionaries.
“We are happy to share the wonderful reality of the Pontifical Society of the Missionary Childhood or Holy Childhood, in order to know and take advantage of it more in our own communities.”
MSGR Salvinu, interacted with the children posing questions and getting answers from them. He was happy that the children, drawn from all corners of the Archdiocese, especially from schools, responded enthusiastically. Over 700 Maltese missionaries such as Msgr Salvinu work in countries all over the world.
Speaking on the occasion, Fr Faustine Lobo, National Director, Pontifical Mission Organization (PMO), said PMO is the unit of the Universal ‘Pontifical Mission Societies’ of the Vatican. The PMS as it is popularly called is a structure in the Church to create and promote missionary zeal among the faithful. It carries missionary flame to all parts of the world so that every Christian is ignited by the fire of missionary enthusiasm.
The Pontifical Mission Organization with its four Societies promotes missionary spirit among children, young and old; priests, the Religious and the Laity; the rich and poor; in cities and villages through its animation programmes. The four Societies of PMS are – Pontifical Society of Propagation of Faith, Pontifical Society of St Peter the Apostle, Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood and Pontifical Missionary Union of the Priests, the Religious and the consecrated Laity. The missionaries are also helped materially by supporting the construction of churches, presbyteries, schools, orphanages, convents, seminaries and formation houses of the Religious and maintenance of orphanages, seminaries and formation houses.
In a word, the PMO strives to put into reality the mandate of Jesus to his disciples –“Go and proclaim the Good News to the Nations,” and the invitation of the Vatican II document AD GENTES, “The pilgrim Church is missionary in her very nature.” To be Christian is, therefore, to be missionary.
Earlier, Fr Susainathan, Secretary, PMS, Archdiocese of Bengaluru, introduced the guests and welcomed them. He also presented a brief background and bio-data of each guest. He welcomed the children and the animators. Fr Susainathan lauded the efforts of children and their animators for having being present for the programme. He also thanked the parish priests who took initiative and interest to send them.
Others present and took part in the celebrations included Fr John Rose, Rector and Parish Priest, St Mary’s Basilica where the programme was held, Fr Rosario Galdes, Priest Welfare Officer of the Diocese of Malta and worked for Church run Maltese Radio for seven years, Patrich Fenech, a close associate of Msgr Salvinu and works in different departments of PMS and involved in various activities in the diocese and Fr Stanislaus Manikam, Regional Secretary of PMS.
A leaflet on the Mission Rosary was released on the occasion by Msgr Salvinu in the presence of other dignitaries. The programme began with release of Rosary Balloon in front of the Basilica.
Children presented a welcome dance, a dance on the theme based on Laudatosi and another based on Divine Mercy theme.
Fr Fautine Lobo commented on a power point presentation on the history of Holy Childhood. Fr Manikam gave comments on a video presentation session on the history, meaning and need of the Mission Rosary today.
Fr Lourdswamy gave a brief explanation about the importance of the Pilgrim Steps into the Holy Door. All the participants – children, animators Religious and priests – went in a procession into the Holy Door with lighted candles.
The participants prayed the Mission Rosary before the exposed Blessed Sacrament. The programme came to a close with benediction and blessings.
Archbishop Bernard Moras who was expected to be the chief guest could not be present due to unforeseen situation, it was learnt.
Missionary Childhood or Holy Childhood celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1993. Today there are millions of “little missionaries” distributed throughout parishes, schools and movements of the five continents.
Concretely, the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood proposes to:
Help educators to progressively awaken in children a universal missionary conscience. Help children to develop their missionary protagonism. Move children to share their faith and material means, especially with the children of the neediest regions and Churches. Promote missionary vocations. To be integrated into the overall pastoral program of Christian education, to which it will contribute its missionary projection.
In order to achieve its objectives, Missionary Childhood lends two services to children: the first and principal one is missionary education; the second is missionary cooperation with the neediest children and the missions of the whole world.
Therefore, the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood or Holy Childhood, which is a Society of the universal Church and of the local Churches, is animating and forming children (up to 14 years of age) from a missionary viewpoint and their educators so that they will live in ecclesial missionary communion and carry out their local mission and their missionary cooperation with universal evangelization, especially of children.
The boys and girls belonging to Missionary Childhood, accompanied by their animators, propose to be missionaries in their communities and to help the children of the whole world. They are friends of Jesus and they make friends for Jesus.
Educators, parents, catechists, young people, religious sisters and priests can participate in this Society as animators of Missionary Childhood. The animators help and guide the children while letting them take on their own responsibilities and accompanying them in carrying out everything that they themselves must do.
The universal Church asks all the ecclesial Institutions and Movements to collaborate with Missionary Childhood in its life and service to the children of the whole world.