What is the Missionary Cooperative Plan and what does it do? We are going to have a missionary at our church this weekend and I was wondering how this works. — De Pere
Christ’s mandate to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mk 16:15) gives rise to the cooperation between local churches that is so necessary for evangelization. The Council Fathers of Vatican II wrote about missionary cooperation in their “Decree on Missionary Activity” (“Ad Gentes”).
Individual churches, meaning each diocese, carry a responsibility for all the others. They make their necessities known to one another,
The Missionary Cooperation Plan (MCP) helps mission-sending societies fund their efforts and appeal for vocations to their communities. It was inaugurated in the late 1930s by Bishop William Griffin, an auxiliary bishop of the Newark (N.J.) Archdiocese and their director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Soon, the MCP was used in other dioceses. The Society for the Propagation of Faith then urged that MCP be used worldwide.
In the beginning, participants were mostly mission societies of men. Since then, mission dioceses, religious orders of women and lay mission groups have been included in the plan.
Assigning a group of parishes to individual visiting missionaries was readily accepted by pastors. It took the burden off of them from missionaries and mission societies asking to make appeals in their parishes.
Each local bishop chooses to implement the MCP in his diocese. Each year, the Diocese of Green Bay receives over 300 MCP applications. These come from Africa, India, the Philippines, Guatemala, Vietnam, Haiti, Dominican Republic and probably every country you can imagine. From these applications, Bishop Ricken invites 38 mission groups to participate each year.
Our 156 parishes are divided into 38 groups and missionaries speak at every parish between May 15 and Sept. 15. Details are coordinated between each parish and their assigned missionaries, who share their faith experiences and the needs of the people they serve.
All the receipts — 100% — from our parishes are pooled and divided equally among the 38 mission groups. We use this “fair share” system to enable speakers to go to less populated parishes without fear of receiving less income. We ask everyone to pray for our missionaries and those they serve and, if they have financial means, to assist our mission speakers’ groups.
I have seen our numbers of MCP receipts increase each year since 2016. Every year, that is, until 2020 and COVID-19. The year 2019 was our best ever, with each mission group receiving $10,038.05. Unfortunately, in 2020, our parishes were closed. Many dioceses canceled MCP appeals. Bishop Ricken felt that anything we could do to assist missionaries was better than nothing at all. Thanks to our flexible, inventive and generous parishes providing virtual, written and video appeals for our speakers, we sent each of our missionaries $5,781.76.
I hope and pray that, in 2021 we may again give great support to our missionary brothers and sisters from around the world. Please be the hands and feet of Jesus and pray for them and give financial support to MCP if you are able. For more information, contact me at [email protected] or (920) 272-8192.
St. Aubin is director of World Mission Services for the Green Bay Diocese.