The Propagation of the Faith’s commitment is to arouse in the people of God an authentically universal spirit in order to make grow in the local Churches a missionary awareness in accordance with the Church’s natural outreach.

The Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith was founded in Lyons, France in 1818 by a young French woman by the name of Pauline Marie Jaricot. Inspired by stories she heard about missionary work in China, she felt called by the Lord to help the Catholic Church’s worldwide missionary work. Pauline herself never traveled to the mission, which, during her lifetime, consisted of the mission in China — and young dioceses in the United States. Pauline gathered friends and workers in a family silk mill into “circles of ten,” asking each person to pray daily for the mission and sacrifice a penny-a-week (at that time, quite a large sacrifice). From this idea emerged the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.

With its goal of opening every believer’s heart to the vastness of the missionary horizon through spiritual and material support for the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Society was born officially on May 3, 1822 in Lyon with the name: Association of the Propagation of the Faith.  Exactly a century later, on May 3, 1922, Pius XI gave it the title of “pontifical” in his Motu Propio Romanorum Pontificum. On April 14, 1926, Pope Pius ordered the celebration of World Mission Day.

Conscious that evangelization is above all the action of the Holy Spirit, the Society encourages the faithful to give first place to prayer and a spirit of sacrifice for the mission. The following are its objectives:

  1. to form the People of God so that it becomes aware of its worldwide missionary vocation;
  2. to inform Christians about the life and needs of the Churches in mission territories, through the exchange of news, sharing spiritual values, the witness of solidarity in times of trial, and moral and material support in adversity;
  3. to increase spiritual and material assistance between particular Churches, with particular attention to the exchange of apostolic personnel with a view to evangelization of the whole world;
  4. to promote missionary vocations ad gentes, especially those which are life-long;
  5. to promote education for justice, especially of young people, through information and knowledge about the social doctrine of the Church; to encourage them to help, and work towards increasing missionary awareness leading them to offer themselves for mission; towards this end the Society operates a “missionary youth service”;
  6. To promote economic solidarity by appealing to the generosity of Christians throughout the whole world and developing a social justice and assistance program which will regularly satisfy the fundamental needs of all the Churches in mission territories.

Today the Solidarity Fund of the Propagation of the Faith, which gathers gifts from Catholics all over the world — a concept that originated with Pauline Marie Jaricot and her desire to help all the world’s mission — is the basic means of support for the Catholic Church’s worldwide mission.