On May 22, 2022, as Pauline Marie Jaricot, the founder of the Propagation of the Faith, was beatified in her Archdiocese of Lyon, France, Catholics from our Archdiocese gathered at Sainte Anne Parish in Salem to mark the occasion with our own Eucharistic celebration.
We chose Sainte Anne's to host this special Mass because their own journey of faith shares markers with Pauline's life in two ways. First, it was originally a French parish, and second, the French parishioners have now opened their hearts and doors to local cultural communities from Cameroon, The Philippines, and The Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose faith has roots tracing back to the mission Church.
Blessed Pauline's story is a fascinating one that she chronicled, from childhood, in a diary. She writes of being born into a faith-filled family known for its love of the Eucharist. Even the children would spend time alone with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Pauline also journaled about her active social life. She loved a pretty dress, parties, and dancing! After hearing a soul-touching sermon on vanity, Pauline gave up her frivolous side and devoted herself to the needs of others. At the age of seventeen, she consecrated herself to God, taking a vow of perpetual virginity.
Blessed Pauline's time in front of the Blessed Sacrament became more of a focus in her life. While praying in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, she felt called to become a catechist to the young women who worked in Lyon's silk factories. It was just a year later that the calling grew into encouraging the workers to organize into "Prayer Circles", with members meeting weekly to pray the rosary and sacrifice a penny to help missionaries spread the Catholic faith.
The movement of everyday Catholics praying for and materially supporting the work of missionaries caught the attention of local Church authorities and The Society for the Propagation of the Faith was established on May 3, 1822.
As we honored Blessed Pauline in Salem, we invited those present, and indeed, we invite all who are reading this story, to become members of the Society. The dues are the ones established by Blessed Pauline -- namely, a routine of prayer for missionaries and regular sacrifices to support their work.
Sainte Anne's parishioners answered the call to mission that very day. They prayed for the missionary work of the Church at Mass and immediately took up a collection for The Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
Please join them and add to the work that Blessed Pauline began. Pray daily and become a monthly donor at www.propfaithboston.org.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.