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First heard at Baptism, the call to share our faith — to be missionaries — is truly connected to every moment of every day. The Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) offers young Catholics and their families opportunities to make those daily connections.
Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson was much in demand. Many French bishops who were serving as missionaries in the United States – the “Missions” of his day – wanted this bishop of Nancy in France to visit the young U.S. churches and then return home to encourage interest and support for their work.
In 1839, Bishop Forbin-Janson did just that, sailing across the ocean and landing in New York, where he was welcomed with open arms by Bishop John Dubois. “Poor New York,” he wrote to Catholics back in France, “there is not yet a minor or major seminary… and this diocese is larger than all of England. There are already 200,000 Catholics, with the City of New York having about 24,000. Here everything is to be done for the sake of religion.”
Continuing his travels, Bishop Forbin-Janson also visited New Orleans and Baltimore, as well as Canada, all on horseback. He preached retreats; celebrated Masses for congregations packed into small churches and chapels, and gathered children for religious instruction. Two years later, he returned to France.
Once home he met an old friend – Pauline Jaricot – who had founded the Society that was helping to support the missionary efforts he had seen firsthand in the United States. Bishop Forbin-Janson had returned home determined to “arouse great interest for the useful work of the Propagation of the Faith.”
During a conversation between these two friends in 1843, Bishop Forbin-Janson shared his own longtime dream – to help the children of the Missions. Like Pauline, he saw the “riches” of the poor mission churches of his day. And he was convinced that though weak and needing care, children rich in faith and love were capable of playing their own part in the Church’s mission – and of even stirring adults to the same generous missionary spirit.
Sometime during the course of their talk, the Holy Childhood Association, now Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) was born. Bishop Forbid-Janson started appealing to the children of France to reach out – in faith and love – to help the children of the Missions of our country and China.
Today, MCA continues to follow the vision of Bishop Forbin-Janson – “children helping children.” After learning about the great needs of the world’s poorest children, young people are invited to pray and to offer financial help so that children in the Missions today may know Christ and experience His love and care.
For more information about the Missionary Childhood Association and what you can do to help, contact Sr. Loretto Emenogu, DMMM, Mission Educator, at 800-382-9836, ext. 1484.