Spain is the birthplace of the majority of missionaries

The Pontifical Mission Societies have presented the 2023 report with all the data about their work around the world. Among the figures, Spain is the country with the most missionaries.

Paloma López Campos-June 12, 2024-Reading time: 4 minutes
Pontifical Mission Societies

On the left, José María Calderón, president of OMP, and on the right, Serafín Suárez, missionary in Africa (Flickr / OMP Spain).

The institution Pontifical Mission Societies (OMP) has presented its memory 2023, regarding the money collected and distributed among the more than 125 countries in which the organization and the missionaries are present.

To present the figures, the institution organized a press conference with the participation of the president of OMP in Spain, José María Calderónand Serafín Suárez, a missionary from Extremadura of the Spanish Institute of Foreign Missions who has been in Zimbabwe for 30 years.

Missions and missionaries, everyone's responsibility

At the beginning of his speech, the President explained that the objective of the Pontifical Mission Societies is to support and promote the missions. For this reason, in 2023, 13 million euros were made available to the Holy See. All this money is distributed to 1,123 mission territories around the world, including 725 seminaries that are maintained thanks to the activity of PMO.

The report shows that the DOMUND is the campaign that raises the most money. In 2022, the figure exceeded 12 million euros, with the United States being the country that donated the most, with Spain in second place. However, in the Missionary Childhood and Native Vocations campaigns, Spaniards are the ones who donate the most.

In spite of everything, said José María Calderón, the most important thing is not money, but to encourage Catholics to go on mission. For this, "one of the most valuable instruments we have are the testimonies of the missionaries.

"The most beautiful thing about this," continued the president, "is that the missionaries live their work normally. For us it has much merit, but for them it is their life". And, in this sense, he thanked the presence of Serafín Suárez, who shared his experience in Southeast Africa.

The Bread of the Word and food

At the beginning of his speech, the missionary reflected on the opinion that "the mission is the pretty face of the Church. He said that he likes to "think of the image of a tapestry, which from the front is beautiful, but from behind it is full of strings and knots. That is what missions are, they look like a tapestry from the front, but they are not possible without the knots on the back, without associations like OMP.

Serafin continued with the idea by explaining that "we missionaries are only bearers and spokespersons of what is behind us. And behind us there are many people who, without going outside, live the mission and help the mission".

Showing his appreciation for the support of organizations like OMP, the priest from Extremadura stressed the importance of financial support to missionaries because "the missionary, when he goes out, has to go out with two open hands. In one hand he has to carry the bread of the Word. In the other hand, he has to carry our daily bread. And both things are complementary".

It is essential that, through the donations of individuals, missionaries can bring basic resources to the countries where they carry out their work. Serafín Suárez gave examples of projects that have gone ahead precisely thanks to the support of institutions such as OMP. Among them are a hospital, a home for the elderly, a school for orphans and a seminary.

However, the situation is still precarious. However, the missionary affirms: "I have felt that when you leave father, mother and brothers and sisters, you receive much more". God always accompanies and, for this reason, Serafin concluded his intervention by assuring that "if I were born for a thousand years, I would do the same thing again for a thousand years".

Pontifical Mission Societies in data

Currently, the Pontifical Mission Societies support and promote missions in 55 countries in Africa, 33 countries in the Americas, 32 in Asia and 19 in Oceania. In Africa, they assist 96 archdioceses, 407 dioceses, 18 apostolic vicariates, 3 apostolic prefectures and 1 "missio sui iuris". In America, on the other hand, they distribute their work among 5 archdioceses, 23 dioceses, 40 apostolic vicariates, 1 apostolic prefecture, 2 "missio sui iuris" and 1 territorial prelature.

In Asia, OMP assists 79 archdioceses, 342 dioceses, 1 territorial abbey, 17 apostolic vicariates, 34 apostolic prefectures, 3 missio sui iuris and 4 apostolic administrations. Finally, in Oceania they extend their work through 11 archdioceses, 32 dioceses, 1 apostolic prefecture and 2 "missio sui iuris".

To put these figures in context, it is important to know that 45.70 % of the population lives in these territories where OMP carries out its work. And, for its part, the Church carries out around 44 % of its social and educational work in these mission areas. So much so that OMP states that "one out of every three baptisms in the world is celebrated in the mission territories".

Spain, the country with the most missionaries

Spain tops the list of countries with the most missionaries. According to data from the report of the Pontifical Mission Societies, there are 9,932 Spanish missionaries, of whom 6,042 are active, while 3,890 are in the country waiting to be assigned and promoting the work. Of the total number of missionaries, 53 % are women, and the average age is around 75 years.

In terms of figures, the OMP document specifies that, thanks to the proceeds from the Missionary Childhood Work, 436 different projects were carried out. With donations from the Work of St. Peter the Apostle (vocations in the mission territories), 77 projects were carried out. And finally, with the proceeds from the Propagation of the Faith, 366 projects were carried out.

To get a more concrete idea, the report details that OMP helped 390,667 children, 10,039 seminarians around the world.

What is the purpose of Pontifical Mission Societies?

Obras Misionales Pontificias Pontificias in Spain has four objectives that are specified in the report document:

-Sensitization: "To awaken interest in the universal mission of the Church";

-Form: "To make better known what the mission is and how it is carried out in the whole world";

-To accompany the missionaries: "To give personal and spiritual attention to the missionaries";

-To collaborate financially: "To help the mission territories with donations from the faithful".

And these objectives, as director José María Calderón explains, are achieved thanks to "all good men and women who want Christ to be known and loved throughout the world; all Christians who are aware that the Church was born to evangelize!

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