Society for Saint Peter Apostle
In 1889, mother and daughter — Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard — answered a desperate plea for help from the Missions. The French missionary bishop of Nagasaki, Japan, wrote to the two women asking for help to keep his seminary open because he had run out of the funds necessary to help educate these young men to serve their people as priests. The bishop just did not have the funds to train these young Japanese men whom, he judged, would make excellent priests.
The Bigards came to his assistance and started a small group for this purpose in their native Caen, France. From these humble beginnings emerged the Society of St. Peter Apostle. Within five years of sending their first donation to Japan, the Bigards, and those whom they enlisted to help, were sending funds to seminaries in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Korea and China.
The goal of the Society of St. Peter Apostle then and now has been to invite individuals to support the education of candidates for the Catholic priesthood in the Developing World and to support the continued formation and training of priests, religious brothers and religious sisters in the mission lands.
In its first year, the Society of St. Peter Apostle sent assistance for some 2,700 seminarians in the Missions. Today, some 30,000 major seminarians, mostly in Africa and Asia, receive an annual subsidy of $700 per student.
Each year the Society for the Propagation of the Faith/Society of St. Peter Apostle sends support for some 30,000 young men preparing for the priesthood in mission seminaries – providing textbooks, technology, housing, food and medical care for the students.
Growing the faith. Our own faith journeys seem like an ongoing cycle of growth: seeds of faith planted by our parents, nurtured by family and friends, strengthened by the seasons of our lives, especially times of trial when we cling close to the Lord’s love and hope.
In Uganda, St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary has been nurturing the faith of young men called to the priesthood for more than a century. Father Joachim, ordained after studies at this seminary, attributes his vocation to the witness of the priests he encountered as a youth, and his family’s prayer life. “Priesthood was an inclination deep in my heart,” Father Joachim says, “and I am grateful to all who helped it grow.”