In many countries, 6 January not only marks the solemnity of the Epiphany, but also Missionary Childhood Day. Introduced by Pope Pius XII, Missionary Childhood Day encourages children to share God’s love with other children in need around the world. It asks them to give their attention to the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society, known in England and Wales as Mission Together, the children’s branch of Missio.
‘A prayer a day and a penny a month’
Mission Together (or Holy Childhood as it is was initially called and still is known in parts of the world) began in the 1843. The French Bishop Charles de Forbin-Janson began to ask children for ‘a prayer a day and a penny a month’, for infants living in poverty overseas. One early supporter was a young French girl called Thérèse Martin. She became known later to the world as St Thérèse of Lisieux, patron of missionaries.
Holy Childhood empowered its young members by entrusting them with the success of its mission. Current Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society, Sr Roberta Tremarelli explains:
For centuries the child remained only the recipient of attention; now it is they who gave a contribution. In this way Holy Childhood began to educate children to the missionary spirit, to be attentive to the needs of others.
Mission Together today
176 years since its foundation, the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society receives requests for aid and subsidies from all over the world. As well as helping with education, the society also supports areas like health care, nutrition and general welfare. The image above shows a Mission Together health and welfare project in Sri Lanka.
In 2016 the Missionary Childhood Society granted subsidies to 2,621 projects, in five continents, totalling 15.6 million dollars. This great work is only possible due to our supporters. On behalf of millions of children worldwide – thank you!