Missionary Cooperative Plan Spotlight: Divine Word Missionaries


Service to God and His People

Divine Word Missionaries is an international religious community of missionary priests and Brothers serving in 82 countries around the world. It is the largest Catholic religious order of men focused primarily on missionary work. Our more than 6,000 members serve in remote communities where they celebrate the sacraments and spread the word of God.

Founded in 1875 by St. Arnold Janssen, Divine Word Missionaries work first and foremost where the Gospel has not been preached or where the local church cannot survive without the assistance of missionary service. China became our first missionary country when St. Joseph Freinademetz arrived there in 1879. Today our ministries reach into every continent except Antarctica.

Our missionaries meet the challenges of poverty, hunger, illness and natural disasters with hearts full of love and compassion. We find tangible solutions so that people in need have food, shelter and medical care. Divine Word Missionaries foster vibrant Catholic communities of faith and service around the world while empowering people to live a life of quality and dignity.

The example of Jesus, the Word made flesh, guides us as we live out our mission. Open and respectful of the religious and cultural traditions of all people, we seek dialogue with all and share the Good News of God’s love with them.

Our order is truly international. Missionaries from different countries and cultures work side by side in their ministries. You will find missionaries born in India serving in African nations, missionaries born in Africa serving in South America, and missionaries born in the Americas serving in Asia. We are committed to unity in diversity.

Throughout the world, our missionaries meet the specific needs of the people they serve:

  • In Thailand, Brother Damien Lunders SVD runs the Mother of Perpetual Help Center to care for teens and adults with HIV/AIDS.
  • In India, Father Joseph Philip SVD oversees the Karunalaya Leprosy Care Center in one of the few places on earth—India’s Odisha state—where the number of leprosy cases is increasing.
  • In Uganda, Father Francis Joseph Naduviledath SVD leads a small team of missionaries who minister to refugees from war-torn South Sudan now living in the sprawling Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement.
  • In Brazil, Father Eduardo Alfonso Sosa Garcia SVD teaches organic gardening techniques to villagers in the Amazon reason as a small way to protect its threatened ecosystem.

These are only a few of the thousands of stories that could be told of Divine Word Missionaries striving to improve the lives of the poor and marginalized around the world.

Where many other Catholic orders have seen their membership fall off, Divine Word Missionaries continue to grow. In fact, over the past 50 years we have been the fastest growing religious order for men. And that growth will continue. We currently have 850 seminarians studying worldwide, with another 300-plus young men in the novitiate.

This September Divine Word Missionaries will celebrate 145 years in service to God and his people. We are well situated to serve for many more years to come.

Now we invite your thoughts. Please share in the comments section below. And while you’re here, continue on a virtual mission by reading more of our stories and reflections as we discover together how “We are Mission”.

What is the Missionary Cooperative Plan? Each year over 200 groups request to be considered for a mission appeal in the Joliet Diocese: priests, sisters and laypeople that need our help so that they can continue doing their work for God’s poor. Our present reality with COVID 19 has been challenging for everyone in the world. Obviously, with the precaution of social distancing, the missioners who participate in our MCP do not have a physical audience, nor can they travel even if they did. Most of them count on the MCP to sustain their much needed mission works.

So, we are inviting you to be in solidarity with them by giving whatever you can to the MCP appeal in support the groups who have been approved for 2020. You may donate online or by sending a check made payable to “Diocese of Joliet Pontifical Mission Societies” and mailing to the Joliet Diocese Mission Office at 16555 Weber Road, Crest Hill, Illinois 60403. ((Put “MCP” on the memo line.) 100% of your giving will go to these organizations.Of course the financial aid is a huge help, but their stories are a mutual benefit for our people who otherwise might not have even thought of their own participation in the God’s mission.

Each week we will be highlighting one of our missionary groups so that you will know a more about the work they do for God’s people. We know that times are and will continue to be financially challenging for many. Please do what you can and remember that your prayers for the missioners and their good works are always appreciated. God does not call everyone to work directly among God’s poor and needy here and in other countries. But you are part of the Church’s mission. Your support with prayers and financial aid makes mission work possible. Bless you all! Let us keep in mind what Pope Francis has said: We are mission!

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