The Society for the Propagation of the Faith currently supports over 1,000 mission dioceses throughout the world. The Society works continually to increase public awareness of mission work and raise financial aid in order to assist Catholic missions. At present around 1,500 Irish born missionaries are serving in 80 countries.
Each year the Society organises the Church’s annual celebration of mission on Mission Sunday, which takes place on the second last Sunday in October.
Financial aid from the Society assists the formation of laity, the building of mission churches, construction and support of pastoral centres and provision of essential transport and equipment for missionaries.
Additionally, financial support is used to provide emergency aid in times of civil war or natural disaster, assisting missionaries in serving refugees and providing medical care for both adults and children.
Missionary Projects overseas supported by the faithful of the Irish Church.
WORLD MISSIONS IRELAND TALKS TO LAY MISSIONARIES
“Brendan, remember you’re not as young as you used to be”…. This was what a friend in Cork said to former school teacher Brendan Daly in a gentle bid to try and perhaps get him to rethink his plans to embark on a life changing mission to South Korea.
Brendan Daly, an affable and hugely positive man laughs at the memory. “At first the poor man was too polite to say what he was thinking but eventually he just came out with it and fired his salvo thinking it would shake a bit of sense into me”!!
Undeterred however, the then 56 year old Brendan and his wife Mary left their home and jobs in Balincollig and set out for a new life as lay missionaries in Seoul, South Korea. Fourteen years on it is clear that they made the right decision and are delighted with how well it has gone.
Sitting in their simple apartment in Seoul during our ‘World Missions Ireland ‘trip, Brendan says that while a life dedicated to lay mission might not be for everyone, for himself and Mary it was a natural progression. “We were very much involved with our Parish in Ballincollig – we were ministers of the Eucharist and I was on the Parish Council. Also we were members of the neocatechumenate in that parish and it was therein that our desire to be missionaries took root so we volunteered for mission – not knowing where we’d be requested to go. As it transpired we were asked to go to Seoul. We made the decision in two days and set out for South Korea two months later. Before we went we made contact with a Columban priest who had returned to Ireland after spending forty years in Korea and he gave us some helpful advice”.
On being asked if it took huge courage to go from Ballincollig to Seoul, Mary takes up the story, “Well, the way we looked at it was that we had volunteered for mission so we were fully prepared to go wherever requested as that was obviously where we were needed and we believed God would help us regardless of the destination. She admits that they suffered financially as Brendan had to wait some years to reap the rewards of what was by then a reduced tteacher’s pension. “I had nursed in my earlier life but was working as a chiropodist at the time of leaving, so yes, it did impact on us financially but those factors are not an issue. God provides and we get by”. Mary smiles as she remembers the reaction of some friends and family members “my nephews in particular were really surprised“.
Arriving in Seoul was a shock to the system, however a number of factors contributed to ease them in. “We were lucky in that we arrived some months before the 2002 World Cup so all signs and information were in English to cater for the massive influx of visitors. Many people came from Ireland at the time including some friends and there was a terrific buzz and atmosphere about the place. The fact that the Korean and Irish teams performed so well contributed hugely in that regard.”
Brendan smiles as he rrecalls a memory from that time…
“We met the Irish Soccer Team in their hotel. The team manager was Mick McCarthy whose father had emigrated from Tallow. I was brought up in the neighbouring town of Lismore so I approached Mick and asked”how’s the son of Charlie McCarthy from Tallow”! Shows what a small world it is really. In the hotel after the game against Spain, Damian Duff gave me his jersey much to the chagrin of one of the FAI officials. The players and manager signed the jersey and it was later auctioned for charity in Ballincollig. On another occasion Mary and I were among a group invited by the Irish Embassy to a social evening on board the L.E. Niamh at the port of Incheon. It was the first time an Irish Navy Ship had sailed in Asian waters. Captain Gerard O’ Flynn from Courtmacsherry, welcomed everybody on board but was shocked to find himself greeting a former teacher who had taught him in Cork many years previously. We spent the night reminiscing.”
Brendan and Mary are members of a neocatechumenal community with whom they give catecheses for adults in the diocese of Seoul. Neocatechumenate, Brendan explains, gives a very good formation in faith and attracts many who have lost contact with the church. Another aspect of their missionary work is their involvement in the International Parish of Seoul. They read in the church and are members of the Parish Council. They teach Sunday School to children and teenagers and on Saturdays instruct adults preparing for Baptism.
Brendan, with the approval of the parish priest, summarized the contents of The Catechism of the Catholic Church into a manageable and understandable booklet. “Well, we were dealing with people, many of whom knew nothing about the Catholic Church or its teachings so it made sense to make it more accessible to them”.
Mary says “One girl from Mongolia came to us. She knew absolutely nothing about religion, let alone about Catholicism but it is funny how people can be quiet witnesses in their own way. Friends of hers whom we instructed had converted to Catholicism and she was iinfluenced by them. Each year we have three or four adult candidates for Baptism at the Easter Vigil in the parish. Because they are older and more mature they tend to be quite enthusiastic and really want a good grounding in faith. It’s always a very joyful occasion when they’re baptized“.
Brendan agrees saying that “While there are 5 million Catholics in Korea, this is a relatively small (11%) percentage of the total population but there are compensations in being a minority. It means that people think more about their faith and appreciate it. By the way when one considers that the Catholic population in 1960 was 0.5% today’s figure of 11% represents a tremendous increase.”
On being asked what they felt was their main function as missionaries in Korea they replied “The Second Vatican Council called on Christians to be a light to others. Accordingly we try as best we can to give Christian witness in our daily lives and in that regard prayer is vital.”
Staff members form World Missions Ireland, Sally McEllistrim and Jackie Pallas met Brendan and Mary Daly while on a mission trip to South Korea in 2015.