Nurturing a worldwide missionary spirit
The Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU) aims to provide mission formation activities for all those with a heart for mission.
The PMU promotes an awareness of mission and spirit of unity among all Christians. It is through this work that the missionary spirit is developed and nurtured and many men, women, religious and lay, are inspired to witness and share their faith with others.
The Pontifical Missionary Union was founded in 1916 in Italy by Father Paolo Manna (1872-1952).
Serious illness prevented Italian missionary Fr Paolo Manna from staying in Myanmar (then called Burma). Instead God inspired him to animate clergy everywhere for mission.
In 1895, Fr Manna departed for the mission of Toungoo in Eastern Burma. He worked there for a total of 10 years with two short repatriations until 1907, when his illness forced him to come back to Italy for good.
Beginning in 1909, through writing and a variety of other activities, he dedicated all his energy for the next 40 years to fostering missionary zeal among the clergy and the faithful. He dreamed of an organisation that would help him to share the spiritual graces he had received through his work in bringing the Good News of Christ to others.
Fr Manna wanted to encourage those already engaged in the work of the Church to support the work of the missions and perhaps to become missionaries themselves. Fr Manna enlisted the support of the mission minded Archbishop of Parma, St Guido Maria Conforti, who had founded his own missionary congregation—the Xaverian Missionaries—and in 1916, approval was granted by Pope Benedict XV to found the Missionary Union of the Clergy to raise enthusiasm among priests for the Opera Maxima (the evangelisation of the world), to promote knowledge of the Missions and to encourage prayer for them. In 1956, Pope Pius XII bestowed the title of ‘Pontifical.’
“A radical solution to the problem of involving Catholics in the apostolate,” was how Fr Manna saw the union. He was saddened by the indifference of clergy and the small number of missionaries. His assumption was that a mission-minded clergy would make all Catholics missionaries.
Today the union has spread throughout the world and the membership includes seminarians, religious and consecrated laity. In Scotland, its aims are achieved through Missio formation activities. We work with priests, religious and lay people in parishes and schools and with anyone with a heart for mission to ‘go to all nations and proclaim the Good News.’