Meet the Missionaries
Visits from missionaries are a summer staple in parishes in Maine. Each year, they share stories of the wonderful work they're doing to serve our brothers and sisters in need: providing medical care, schooling, job development, basic resources, and more. We hear how the faith is alive in countries around the world, despite the hardships many face, now exacerbated in many areas by the coronavirus pandemic.
Below, you will find descriptions of the congregations that are participating in the Missionary Cooperative Plan this summer, along with the parishes they visited in 2021. We invite you to read about their work and prayerfully consider supporting the one from your parish and perhaps extending your generosity to others as well.
Apostles of Jesus
St. Agnes Parish, Island Falls, and St. Mary of the Visitation Parish, Houlton
The Apostles of Jesus was founded in Uganda in 1968 by two Italian missionaries. Currently, there are more than 400 Apostles of Jesus members serving in countries around the world, including Botswana, Cuba, Ethiopia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, South Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The missionaries care for refugees and for the sick, including operating a medical center in Uganda and caring for those with AIDS. They also operate schools and have farms, where they teach good farming practices.
Augustinians of the Assumption (The Assumptionists)
Good Shepherd Parish, Biddeford
The Assumptionists are a worldwide religious congregation founded in France in 1845. Today, the congregation has approximately 1,000 priests and brothers serving in 30 countries. They work in education, do ecumenical work, operate foreign ministries, do social outreach, and publish the Catholic Digest.
One of the Assumptionists’ neediest missions is in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been in a state of civil conflict since 1997. The United Nations reports that six million people have died as a result, either from the violence itself or from disease or malnutrition. Assumptionist priests have been kidnapped and killed, but despite calls for them to leave, they refuse to abandon the people they serve, continuing to run a a university, high schools, dispensaries, numerous parishes, skills training centers, radio stations, and social outreach programs. [Read more.]
Brothers of Christian Instruction
St. John Vianney Parish, Fort Kent
The Brothers of Christian Instruction (also known as the de la Mennais Brothers and the Institutum Fratrum Instructionis Christianae de Plöermel, FICP) is a teaching order of brothers. Founded in France in 1819 by Gabriele Deshayes and Jean-Marie de la Mennais, the order has members in 25 countries throughout the world including some based in Alfred, Maine, where they host the York County Shelter programs and do outreach work with the York County Jail.
The work of the brothers was featured in Harvest magazine during a celebration of their 200th anniversary. Read the story here.
Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus
All Saints Parish, Brunswick
The Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus were founded in 1867 by St. Daniel Comboni, the ﬁrst Bishop of Central Africa. Today, the Comboni Missionaries number close to 1,500, with an equal number of Comboni Missionary Sisters. Together, they serve in 40 countries in Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Asia.
The Comboni Missionaries remain true to their original calling as missionaries and often serve where the Church is newly arrived and where people are just forming their Christian identity. They also serve in marginalized communities, including in some of the most impoverished places on earth. Funds collected through the Missionary Cooperative Plan are directed to projects in Africa and Latin America to evangelize, to educate (especially girls and young women), and to create better living conditions, such as through clinics and the provision of clean water. Beneﬁciaries range from street vendors in Peru to the Pygmies in the Central African Republic to desert dwellers in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Kenya. The Comboni Missionaries, for instance, are supporting six young men in Uganda, all from the West Nile region, who are studying medicine. [Read more]
To support the Comboni Missionaries, visit All Saints' online giving page.
Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary
Parish of the Holy Savior, Rumford; Holy Family Parish, Greenville; and St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Jackman
The Damien Social Development Institute of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary has been serving persons afflicted by leprosy (or Hansen’s disease) ever since members of the congregation arrived in the state of Odisha, India, in 1979. Their mission was to carry out the “legacy” of St. Damien of Molokai, bringing rays of hope and dignity to the most excluded group of persons in our society. There are currently five leprosy colonies with 1,100 affected families.
The institute provides free medical care to those afflicted with leprosy, operate a hostel for students from leprosy-affected families, and provides vocational training, so that those in the colonies can earn a living and be treated with the dignity they deserve. [Read more].
To support the work of the Damien Social Development Institute, visit the online giving page of the Parish of the Holy Savior.
Daughters of the Holy Spirit
Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord, Old Town
Founded in Brittany, France, in 1706, the Daughters of the Holy Spirit is an international religious congregation that began serving in Nigeria in 1964. Today, there are 73 native sisters serving in five different dioceses in western Nigeria. Their mission is centered on providing quality education to children and youths who make up over half the population. The sisters manage multiple schools, run a hospital, provide health care in several clinics, do outreach to many of the surrounding villages, run a rehabilitation center and elderly care facility, offer adult literacy programs, and make pastoral visits to the sick and the poor. The coronavirus pandemic has brought on greater hardships for the sisters and the people they serve. [Read more.]
Contribute to the sisters' ministry through the Parish of the Resurrection of the Lord's online giving page.
Diocese of Kumbo
Our Lady of the Lakes Parish, Oquossoc; St. Joseph Parish, Farmington; and St. Rose of Lima Parish, Jay
The Diocese of Kumbo in Cameroon was erected by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1982, although Catholicism in the region dates back to 1912 with the arrival of the Sacred Heart Fathers, missionaries from Germany. The diocese, whose patroness is Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is home to more than 125,000 Catholics.
This has been a time of much hardship for the people of the diocese, the result of a conflict between the government and anglophones who feel marginalized by the French-speaking majority. The resulting violence has led to thousands of deaths, human rights violations, hundreds of burned homes and abductions. It has closed schools and devastated the economy, leaving people in need of basic resources. [Read more]
Please keep the Diocese of Kumbo in your prayers, and if you are able, please consider helping the diocese financially through the Our Lady of the Lakes online giving page, the St. Joseph online giving page,or the St. Rose of Lima online giving page.
Disciples of Mary
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Auburn
The mission of the Alagad Ni Maria (Disciples of Mary) of the Philippines is to bring youth closer to God. Inspired and motivated by the spirit of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the community seeks to enlighten youth to the traditional values and spirituality of Catholicism. The community has more than 250 teachers/educators and volunteers, 400 youth leaders, and 20,000 young people under its apostolic care.
The changing economic, political, social and technological landscape of the Philippines presents challenges for youth who are struggling with overwhelming problems. Their vulnerability often makes them susceptible to drug abuse, exploitation as child laborers, or criminality. These youths need the chance that the Disciples of Mary provide them, helping them to discover God’s love and compassion for them. [Read a special message from a priest in the community.]
Dominican Fathers and Brothers (Province of Nigeria)
Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Parish, Madawaska; Our Lady of the Valley Parish, St. Agatha, and St. Peter Chanel Parish, Van Buren
The Dominican Fathers and Brothers Province of Nigeria, (also known as the Province of St. Joseph the Worker) has approximately 200 friars serving in Nigeria and Ghana. It is the largest province of the Dominican Order on the African continent and the fastest growing Dominican order in the world.
The ministerial focus of the Dominicans in West Africa is evangelization through the preaching of the Gospel. They have members working to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life, in formation of local clergy, primary and ongoing evangelization, to dialogue with Islam, in hospital chaplaincy, and in the education of children through Catholic elementary, schools, high schools, and colleges. They are also involved in justice and peace ministries [Read a Mission Appeal letter from a Dominican Father].
Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate
St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Westbrook, Windham, and Gorham.
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been serving in Africa since 1991, specifically in Benin, Cameroon, and Nigeria. Relying on the mediation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, they say their work is to save lives and save souls.
The friars operate schools and a home where boys who are attending schools can stay. They have shrine that draw many pilgrims. In Cameroon, Sunday Masses draw 5,000 of the faithful. They also have a program called Well for Life, which strives to provide safe drinking water to the people.
“Consider how much we have heard about washing our hand during the recent pandemic. In many places, there is no water," says Friar Henri Marie François.
The friars also operate radio stations, the most effective way, they say, to reach the people. Unfortunately, they are struggling to cover the cost of electricity to keep the stations on the air. They also only have two working vehicles, which limits where they can go to minister. [Read more.]
Help the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate by visiting the online giving page of St. Anne Church in Gorham, part of St. Anthony of Padua Parish.
Heralds of Good News of the Divine Mercy Province
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Calais, and St. Peter the Fisherman Parish, Machias
The Heralds of Good News is a clerical missionary society of apostolic life founded in the Diocese of Eluru, India, in 1984. It became an institute of pontifical right in 1999. The specific aim of the society is “the promotion of vocations to priesthood, the training of seminarians, and the supply of zealous and hardworking missionaries to the dioceses in India and abroad which experience a shortage of priests due to the lack of local vocations.” The Diocese of Portland is among those that have benefited. There are currently seven members of the Heralds of Good News serving in Maine.
The Heralds of Good News are committed to promoting vocations to the priesthood and to the formation of seminarians. They operate residential educational centers for children as well as homes for orphans, those from unstable family environments, and those with special needs. They also provide homes for homeless and have training centers for school dropouts and women’s empowerment centers. Current projects include building new schools, building a spiritual renewal and retreat center, construction of a province headquarters and priests’ retirement home, and construction of a cemetery. They are also providing COVID-19 relief supplies such as face masks and hand sanitizer.
Help the Heralds of Good News continuing their missionary work by visiting the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish online giving page or the St. Peter the Fisherman Parish online giving page.
Institute of the Incarnate Word
Parish of the Holy Eucharist, Falmouth
The Institute of the Incarnate Word is a Catholic religious institute of diocesan right founded in Argentina in 1984 by Reverend Father Carlos Miguel Buela. Members of the Institute of the Incarnate Word care for those with disabilities, children, the elderly, and the sick. They manage schools and educational institutions in rural areas. Present in 40 countries, they say their most challenging missions are in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Iraq, Palestine (Gaza), Papua New Guinea, Peru, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and Ukraine, among others.
The institute says funds from the mission appeal will be used for day-to-day support for missionaries, to supply material goods to finish projects, and to meet basic needs in rural areas where we work. That includes food and medicine, pastoral work, and vehicles to drive to remote areas where there are no roads. [Read more.]
To support the work of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, visit the online giving page of the Parish of the Holy Eucharist.
St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Bangor
Irish Pallottine missionaries currently work in 11 parishes in East Africa, assisting members of the communities to improve their lives through a variety of programs and ministries. Their focus is to feed, educate, and provide care for the most vulnerable in society.
Their many programs and ministries include a rehabilitation center in Siuya, Tanzania, which helps to ensure children with intellectual and development disabilities are still able to receive a primary school education, and a new church and community center in Esso, Arusha, Tanzania, where thousands gather to worship and where vocational training is offered. The Pallottines also built a public well in a drought-stricken, remote region of Tanzania. [Learn more]
Help the Irish Pallottines in their work by visiting the St. Paul the Apostle Parish online giving page
Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries
Holy Spirit Parish, Wells
The Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries is a religious community established by His Eminence the late Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal of the Archdiocese of Cebu, Philippines, and Sr. Ma. Corazon Salazar, MQHM. The community’s mission is to rescue women and children who are victims of human trafficking. The women and girls are cared for in the sisters’ Rehabilitation and Livelihood Training Center, called the Home of Love, which has 50 women and children, and My Bonita Home for Girls, which serves 100. The homes provide shelter, food and nutrition, maternity and child care, medical care, counseling, educational assistance, spiritual formation, and skills training to help the women return to productive lives. [Read more]
Our Lady of the Snows Parish, Dexter, and St. Agnes Parish, Pittsfield
Maryknoll Sisters have been engaged in God’s work for more than a century. Established in 1912, they became the first group of Catholic Sisters in the United States founded for overseas mission.
Serving in 24 countries from Bangladesh to Brazil, the sisters are committed to transforming the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace, to oppose modern-day slavery, to promote the healing of the earth and the sustainable use of natural resources, to affect change that benefits indigenous peoples, migrants, and refugees, and to build bridges of understanding among cultures. They do this through service as nurses, doctors, teachers, theologians, social workers, pastoral ministers, environmentalists, justice advocates, and more. [Read more.]
Medical Missionaries of Mary
St. John Paul II Parish, Scarborough
The Medical Missionaries of Mary are an international congregation of women religious dedicated to sharing Christ's healing love. The sisters bring health services to people of different cultures where human needs are great. They come from 20 countries and are trained in a variety of health-related professions. They serve in 13 countries in Africa, Europe, and North and South America.
The sisters are present to those who suffer, the oppressed, and those on the margins of life, including those suffering from AIDS/HIV and victims of human trafficking. They work not only to meet medical needs but to address the issues that lead to poor health. [Read more.]
Mercy Focus on Haiti
St. Joseph Parish, Bridgton & St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Norway
How desperate would you have to be to feed your children mud? For mothers in Haiti, it happens all too frequently. That's one of the reasons the Sisters of Mercy and a group of volunteers are now working in the island nation. This is the same Mercy Sisters who have been present here in Maine since 1865.
The current problems in Haiti include a long drought, civil unrest, the doubling of food costs, and, now, the coronavirus pandemic. It has forced desperate mothers to feed their children mud pies. [Learn more]
Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette
Prince of Peace Parish, Lewiston
The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette have ministered to people of every race, language, culture, and way of life since their beginning at the La Salette Shrine in France where our Blessed Mother appeared in 1846. Her final words, “Well, my children, you will make this known to all my people,” echo Jesus’ Gospel mandate. It is little wonder that the La Salette Congregation has always been mission-orientated. When called upon by the Vatican to preach the Gospel in foreign lands, they eagerly responded. This spirit brought them to 27 countries. They serve among the poor in Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, India, Madagascar, Myanmar, Namibia, the Philippines, Tanzania and, most recently, Mozambique.
Money from the mission appeal will go towards vocational programs to help single and unemployed women in Boliva and Argentina, to aid in the formation of semiarians in South America, Madagascar, and Asia; to serve those with disabilities; to feed the hungry through soup kitchens, and to support the education of students in their schools. [Read more.]
Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Parish of the Ascension of the Lord, Kittery
The Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC) entered apartheid-ravaged Namibia in 1927 where, to this day, they continue to minister to youth, women, and the underprivileged in the fields of health, education, pastoral work, social work, and administration. In the village of Omakuva in northern Namibia, for instance, sisters fill a gap in services and are a spiritual presence because the priest from the nearest mission station can only visit once a month.
In all, MSC Sisters serve in 21 countries, embracing the belief of their founders that their “mission is not complete until the whole world has turned to Christ.”
If you would like to support the work of the MSC Sisters in Namibia and Angola, visit the Parish of the Ascension of the Lord online giving page.
Missionary Society of St. Paul
Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes
Founded in Nigeria in the 1970s, the Missionary Society of St. Paul is committed to evangelization. The society not only serves the people of Nigeria, but those in 19 other countries around the world, including 11 African countries and the United States.
In addition to spreading the word of God, members of the missionary society work as hospital chaplains, in schools, and in social justice programs, helping farmers, providing for the poor, and caring for orphans. [Read more]
Passionist Mission of Vietnam
Corpus Christi Parish, Waterville
The Passionist Mission of Our Lady of Lavang is a small branch of the Congregation of the Passion, commonly known as the Passionists. Founded in 2005, the mission of this branch of the congregation is to rebuild the Church in Vietnam by training indigenous missionaries to serve, especially the neglected and those living in remote areas. Since its founding, five priests have been ordained, and there are currently 34 seminarians in three student houses in Ho Chi Minh city.
Passionists believe that remembering the cross means remembering those in the world who bear the cross today: the disabled, the sick, the dying, the grieving, those isolated and alone – all who share the burden of pain. [Read more.]
St. Matthew Parish, Limerick and St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish, Sanford
The Piarists, also known as the Pauline Congregation of Clerics Regular Poor of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools, are a religious order founded in the 1617 by St. Joseph Calasanz. The order is dedicated to evangelizing through the education of children, most especially the poor. Today, Piarists live and serve in 41 countries on five continents. In 2018, they taught a total of 131,333 students in 197 schools. [Read more.]
Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary
Our Lady of the Eucharist Parish, Lincoln, Christ the Divine Mercy Parish, East Millinocket, and St. Benedict, Benedicta
Called in the tenderness of God, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary are a religious community of women, gathered in service to the Church, especially the young. They are teachers, artists, musicians, pastoral counselors, and ministers following Christ with the charism of manifesting the tender and caring love of Jesus and Mary, his Mother.
Blessed Elisabeth Turgeon, the congregation's foundress, had a tender love for the children. Having followed a call by the bishop, she established a religious institute known as the "les Souers des Petites Ecoles" in Quebec. Instructing children in the faith became the primary mission of the community.
Society of African Missions
Parish of the Precious Blood, Caribou
The Society of African Missions (SMA) is a worldwide organization of Catholic missionaries made up of priests, brothers, and laymen and women. Their more than 1,000 missionaries hail from five continents and joyfully witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They currently serve in 17 countries throughout Africa and in other parts of the world, including the United States. The Diocese of Portland is pleased to have two SMA priests assisting here.
For more than 160 years, members of the society have been committed to evangelization, proclaiming the Gospel to those who have not yet heard it, most especially the poor and abandoned. In their work in Africa, they strive to answer questions of justice and peace, particularly by engaging with street children, former child soldiers, refugees, war-displaced people, Ebola victims, and people living with HIV and AIDS. They also focus on human development through education and health. [Read more.]
To support the mission of the Society of African Missions, please visit the Parish of the Precious Blood online giving page.
Society of Mary (The Marists)
St. Brendan the Navigator Parish, Camden
Since its official recognition by the Church in 1836, the Society of Mary (Marist Fathers and Brothers) has committed itself to bringing the word of God to people around the world. Like the Church, the society finds its model in Mary and it is in her spirit of humility and faith that Marists serve in order to build up God's Church.
Just three months after the first Marists made their profession, a group left for the Catholic missions of western Oceania in the South Pacific. The Marists continue to serve there today, as well as in countries on six continents, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cameroon, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Spain, Thailand, Tonga, the United States, and Venezuela. [Read more]
To support the work of the Marists, visit St. Brendan the Navigator Parish’s online giving page.
Vincentian Congregation in India
Parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Bar Harbor; St. Joseph Parish, Ellsworth; and Stella Maris Parish, Bucksport
The Vincentian Congregation of India is a religious community founded in Kerala in 1904. Its motto is “He has sent me to proclaim the good news to the poor,” words from the Gospel of Luke that also inspired St. Vincent de Paul, the congregation’s patron. (The Vincentians themselves were established by St. Vincent in Paris, France, in 1625.) The congregation draws its spirit and distinctive character from the life and works of St. Vincent. Its primary goal is the evangelization of the poor, especially those who are most abandoned.
The ministries of the Vincentians in India are diverse. St. Vincent's Home in Kerala treats and houses AIDS patients who have been abandoned by their families and ostracized by society. Centers operated by the congregation care for those suffering from mental illness and those with cancer and other illnesses. They also have shelters for the homeless, a boys' home, and operate schools educating 5,500 children. And to meet the spiritual needs of the people, they offer Popular Mission retreats in seven languages. [Learn more]
Help the Vincentian priests and brothers, by visiting the online giving page of St. Joseph Parish in Ellsworth.
Vincentian Congregation in Vietnam
Our Lady of Hope Parish, Portland
Founded in 17th century France by St. Vincent de Paul, Vincentians serve in countries around the world, including Vietnam where they have been present since 1955. In Vietnam, the Vincentians serve the poor, the homeless, migrants, and those suffering from mental illness. They teach catechism in classrooms, provide scholarships and school supplies, and organize after school programs. They provide medical care. They feed the poor through soup kitchens and through baking bread. They built a purified water system.[Read more.]
There are currently 100 Vincentian priests in Vietnam and 100 seminarians.
Warsaw Province of the Redemptorists
St. Michael Parish, Augusta
The ministry of Polish Redemptorists in the East began as the answer to the “perestroika” or transformation. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Province of Redemptorists reached out to Catholics living there. They have now been working in the former Soviet Union for 30 years.
The Redemptorists have pastoral centers, including churches, in Russia, Kazakhstan, five in Belarus, and one in Ukraine. While their parishes are not large, they say their congregations are young, giving them hope for the future.
They are in the process of expanding their ministry by building new churches in Togliatti, a Russian industrial city with more than one million people, and in Minsk, Belarus, where there is opposition from authorities. Construction expenses, however, exceed people's incomes, so the Redemptorists need assistance to see projects to fruition and to provide places for the Catholics of those areas to worship God. [Read more]