Being an MSSP missionary

Following God’s call to be an MSSP missionary is a beautiful adventure. It will open for you the possibility to minister to all kinds of people, from different cultures and backgrounds. It will give you the privilege to journey with them in the ups and downs of life. Most importantly, it will open for you the gift of a meaningful life, in which, by proclaiming God’s Word to all peoples, you allow the Lord, through you, to build a better world.

The Formation Process

The Formation of an MSSP missionary has different stages, spreading over a number of years.

Postulancy

After a period of discernment, under the guidance of a vocational director, and when he feels ready, the person can join our postulancy program.  The person is invited to start living in the community so that he may experience our way of life and decide whether it is truly his call.  In particular, postulancy, or the pre-novitiate, is a time of self-discovery – a deeper exploration of one’s human and psychological dimensions. 

Noviciate

This is a year of profound spiritual journeying as well as learning more about the Society and its lifestyle. This stage ends with the profession of temporary vows.

Juniorate

Under normal circumstances the newly-professed member has six years of living with temporary vows. This is a time for study and training. During this time the Junior Paulist also gets the opportunity for a two-year pastoral and missionary experience. This phase ends with the profession of perpetual vows and is followed by ordination for those going on to the priesthood.

International Formation

Our formation community is international. Members from different countries come together in various stages of the formation program.  Living in international communities is a challenge. It is also a sign and witness of Christian unity.  For us missionaries, it is especially important as most often we are called to proclaim Christ away from our country of origin and to share our faith wherever God sends us.

Being an MSSP missionary

Following God’s call to be an MSSP missionary is a beautiful adventure. It will open for you the possibility to minister to all kinds of people, from different cultures and backgrounds. It will give you the privilege to journey with them in the ups and downs of life. Most importantly, it will open for you the gift of a meaningful life, in which, by proclaiming God’s Word to all peoples, you allow the Lord, through you, to build a better world.
Here are some concrete experiences of how this happens:

Bro Brian Avila

Member in formation

My four years in formation is undeniably the best years of my life but I would not deny the fact that there has a lot of challenges I am facing. It is the MSSP that helped me to see challenges as opportunities to become a better person and with the eyes of faith to experience it as a grace. Because of this, I am very blessed and grateful to my MSSP family for not just giving me these opportunities but also being always there in my journey.

It is through them that I got a deeper sense of purpose in my life through knowing and having a relationship with God. It is through our sharing of our lives, doing things together and prayers that I found a sense of communion. It is also these years that I learned to know, accept and appreciate myself better by claiming my belovedness as children of God. I also came to realize that by knowing myself and others, I also know God. It is through my brother’s love that God’s love is manifested.

As I continue my journey I know there are so many things to know and discover but what God is inviting me today is to surrender and continue my journey going home to Christ. And I am glad that I am not doing this alone.

Fr Solomon Cruzado

Missionary priest

First of all, I would like to thank the Lord for calling me to live the fullness of my vocation in MSSP; in my ten years of religious life, I still feel in my heart this strong and loving desire which urges me to continue relishing my total self-gift to the service of Christ.  My experience with the Lord continues to be the same one I had when I made my initial discernment, only that every day it becomes more profound.  I always feel the sweetness of the love and mercy of God through all that I do, from the most insignificant and simple. 

The regular visits to the sick, the unconditional support to those in need, my ongoing formation, the administration of the sacraments, and community life, are all part of what make me feel alive, and what strengthen me to continue fulfilling my vocation and my self-gift in the MSSP charism according to what was handed to us by Joseph De Piro.

I am very grateful, although it has not always be easy.  But Jesus was always faithful with me, even when I was not faithful to him.  I thank Him for his mercy with me and I pray that he gives me the grace of perseverance and full commitment to Him all the days of my life.

Fr Bernard Mangion

Retired Missionary

From a very tender age, I felt attracted to the priesthood. Slowly, slowly, I started realizing that my future should be a missionary priest. In the MSSP, I realized that I can satisfy my heart’s desires with the advantage of doing it as a religious. Soon I became more and more convinced that God was calling me to live my life within the MSSP charism.

Looking back on my 61 years of religious life and 54 years of priesthood, I have to thank the Lord for the many graces he showered on me and especially that I have found the fulfilment of my dreams within the context of the MSSP charism. Our dear Founder, the Servant of God Joseph DePiro, has been for me a constant model of a truly consecrated person and of a missionary.

Every life has its ups and downs. But the joy of living this vocation has helped me to overcome the dark moments and to gratefully acknowledge the constant love and mercies, God has showered on me, both in my ministry in Malta and in Pakistan.

My vocation kept me constantly close to God and to his people.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the vows professed by the MSSP and how are they lived?

The MSSP brothers profess the vows of Celibate Chastity, Poverty, Obedience and Missionary Service. This means that they offer themselves completely to God by embracing celibacy, living a simple life with goods shared in common, and always ready to do God’s will as discovered through our community life.

Does an MSSP have to live with other MSSP members?

As MSSP, we believe that our primary way how to proclaim the Gospel is through our communion. Our Founder, Mgr Joseph De Piro left us these last instructions: “I earnestly request that [you] do their utmost to love one another in Christ.” Living together can provide us with the opportunity of showing the beauty of the Gospel in the way we live.

What is required of those willing to join?

First and foremost, it is required an openness to a journey of discernment and formation. Our formation journey tends to be quite long but this is to ensure that our members have the best preparation for their calling.

How does an MSSP missionary financial support himself?

An MSSP missionary is supported by the Congregation in all his needs. Whatever he earns he puts into the community and whatever he needs he takes from the community. At the same time the missionaries are encouraged to contribute in finding sponsors which can sustain the community in its life and mission.

How would you know that God is calling you to be an MSSP?

One of the signs can be the desire, implanted in one’s heart, to proclaim the Good News to the people on the margins. Another can be the desire to do this mission in communion with other brothers and lay partners in our charism. Most importantly is the desire to give oneself completely to God and “to follow Him wherever he goes.”

Am I called to live all my life away from my country?

An essential pre-requisite to join the MSSP community is the availability to go where it is needed. This might mean living most of your life away from your country of origin. However, when the missionaries are about to retire from their ministry, they are given the option to retire in their own country.

How can I be sure that God is calling me to join the MSSP?

We can never be completely sure that God is calling someone. We only look for signs which somehow suggest that the person is called to join our community. One of the sure signs is that, after joining our discernment and formation program, we see that the person is growing in all aspects, and he feels at home in the MSSP.

How can I know the MSSP community better?

The best way to come to know us is to actually meet one of us, and then we can eventually invite you to spend some time in one of our communities. A vocational director is assigned precisely for this purpose in every region where we are.

Is the MSSP charism limited to Consecrated Priests?

No. First of all, within the community, we accept lay brothers who also embrace the vows and are full members of the congregation but who are not ordained priests. Their ministry would focus mostly on Catechesis and Evangelization, but they can be also leaders of the different entities run by the MSSP.
Furthermore, we extend our MSSP charism to all the lay people who are willing to share in it, and who live it according to do their state of life and vocation.

What can help me in discovering my true vocation?

Having a Spiritual Director is a crucial first step. This means finding someone who can accompany you to grow deeper in your faith and to help you listen to God’s voice in your life. Then, expose yourself to different charisms within the Church and see if any one them touches a deep chord in you. Most importantly, pray that the Lord will give you signs – concrete indications – that can show you the way.

Does the MSSP wear a particular habit?

The MSSP have their own specific habit which they use in very particular occasions. Most of the time they dress casually, and where formality is required they wear the Roman Collar.

What rapport does the MSSP member have with his family of origin?

While the MSSP member is encouraged to keep a warm and respectful relationship with his family of origin, at the same time he is encouraged to develop a healthy detachment from it so as not to limit his availability for his mission.

How specifically is the MSSP charism lived today?

Originally the MSSP community was founded to preach the Gospel Ad Gentes, that is, in those countries where the message of Jesus has not been proclaimed. Nowadays, together with the whole Church, we recognize the need of Evangelization everywhere and in all kinds of circumstances, but particularly to people on the margins of society. We commit ourselves to choose these kinds of environments.

Can I join the community from a country where the MSSP is not present?

This is not usually our norm. This is because it is difficult for us to offer to an accompaniment in discernment to a person with whom we cannot be in regular contact, coming from a culture with which we are not familiar. However, occasionally, we do make some exceptions, in which case the discernment journey can be extended so as to make up for this deficiency.

Is there an age limit before joining the congregation?

Our Constitutions stipulate the age limit for joining at 40 years. The main reason for this is because beyond this age it becomes very difficult for a person to be open for a process of formation.

Is the MSSP community limited only to Catholics?

Yes. The Missionary Society of St Paul is a religious congregation within the Catholic Church and only open for Catholic membership. However, we look forward to work together with non-Catholics and people of other faith-orientation in the environments in which we are.

Would you link to know more?

Contact our Vocational Director