Pontifical Missionary Union
Catholic Mission's work of mission formation
Founded in 1916 in Italy by Father Paolo Manna (1872-1952)
Serious illness prevented Italian missionary Father Paolo Manna from staying in Myanmar (then called Burma). Instead he was inspired by God to animate clergy everywhere for mission.
In 1895, Fr Manna departed for the mission of Toungoo in eastern Burma. He worked there for a total of ten years with two short repatriations until 1907, when his illness forced him to come back to Italy for good.
Beginning in 1909, through writing and a variety of other activities, he dedicated all his energy for the next forty years to fostering missionary zeal among the clergy and the faithful. He dreamed of an organisation that would help him to share the spiritual graces he had received through his work in bringing the Good News of Christ to others.
Fr Manna wanted to encourage those already engaged in the work of the Church to support the work of the Missions - and perhaps to become missionaries themselves. In 1916, with the approval of Pope Benedict XV, he founded the Missionary Union of the Clergy to raise enthusiasm among priests for the Opera Maxima (the evangelisation of the world), to promote knowledge of the Missions and to encourage prayer for them. In 1956, Pope Pius XII bestowed the title of "Pontifical".
"A radical solution to the problem of involving Catholics in the apostolate" was how Fr Manna saw the Union. He was saddened by the indifference of clergy and the small number of missionaries. His assumption was that a mission-minded clergy would make all Catholics missionaries.
Today the Union has spread throughout the world and the membership includes seminarians, religious and laity. In Australia, its aims are achieved through Catholic Mission's mission formation activities, not only for priests but also lay leaders, parishioners, school students and anyone with a heart for mission: to "go to all nations and proclaim the Good News".