PONTIFICAL SOCIETY OF MISSIONARY CHILDHOOD
POSI in brief, the Society of Missionary Childhood or of the Holy Childhood, leads children to discover the missionary spirit and teaches them to help children of their same age around the world through prayer and small material sacrifices.
Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson was much in demand. Many French bishops who were serving as missionaries in the United States – a mission territory 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.
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 Marie 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 in the mission. 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 (HCA) was born. Bishop Forbin-Janson started appealing to the children of France to reach out – in faith and love – to help needy children in mission areas.
With its mission to bring children’s attention to the spiritual and material needs of children throughout the world through prayers and sacrifices, the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood Association was founded in Nancy, France in 1843. Pope Pius XI recognized this work as “pontifical” in his Encyclical Letter Rerum Ecclesiae on February 28, 1926. Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Letter Praeses Consilio (December 4, 1950) instituted the Annual Holy Childhood Day.
Today, HCA continues to follow the vision of Bishop Forbin-Janson with its motto “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 mission may know Christ and experience His love and care. The Society’s goals can be summed up as follows:
- To awaken in the children the awareness of the mission work of the Church.
- To let children participate in missionary work through prayer, sacrifices and offerings (Children LOVE Children).
- To move children to share their faith and material means with the children of the neediest churches (Children HELP Children).
- To promote in the hearts of children esteem and love for missionary vocations (Children ARE MISSIONARIES and inspire other Children BECOME MISSIONARIES).
Every year the Society organizes a special day on which it brings children’s attention to the spiritual and material needs of children throughout the world. Children are encouraged to offer to another children of the world their assistance in terms of prayers, sacrifices and offerings, and are encouraged to discover in them the face of Jesus.
In the Philippines, every feast of the Sto. Niño in January (3rd Sunday) is designated as Holy Childhood Sunday.