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Missions/CRS Office

The Diocesan Missions/CRS Office represents two very important organizations that support our missionaries and Catholic workers overseas: Pontifical Mission Societies and Catholic Relief Services.

When you make donations to the Propagation of the Faith, Missionary Childhood Association, and CRS Relief Programs, you are directly touching the lives of so many people who look to us, their brothers and sisters in Christ, for support as they work to better their lives and the lives of their families. To read stories about mission work being done locally, visit the Maine in Mission section.

Catholic Relief Services issued a December briefing to update the world on their current service. For information on how to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew, click here.

The Pontifical Missions Societies have released a new "MISSIO In Focus" to provide uplifting and insightful resources for people interested in their work, mission solidarity, and mission formation. 

Thank you for your continued support and prayers!

CRS Fair Trade Now "CRS Ethical Trade"

In January 2017, the CRS Fair Trade program transitioned to CRS Ethical Trade.

With a new expanded vision, website, and resources, CRS Ethical Trade inspires Catholics to act on their faith and values by building on the principles of fair trade and moving beyond its boundaries to include other models of ethical trade.

The CRS Ethical Trade program mobilizes the Catholic community to live their faith through practicing ethical purchasing grounded in Catholic social teaching with a global focus, working with more than 20 companies to promote fair and ethically traded products such as: coffee and tea, home décor, chocolate and candy, religious items, jewelry, and products for special occasions for use by Catholic individuals and institutions.

The organization offers an online directory of fair and ethically traded products from companies that meet their high standards and opportunities for parishes, schools and universities to host fair trade sales.

Learn more about the transition and new opportunities to reflect and advocate on issues affecting the most vulnerable, including human trafficking, climate change and livelihoods for refugees, by clicking here.

CRS’ Thomas Awiapo Offers Gratitude During Inspiring Visit to Diocese of Portland

Thomas Awiapo, a global solidarity coordinator for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), visited the Diocese of Portland on November 3 to thank the faithful for their support of the CRS Rice Bowl program each Lent.

Awiapo, who trains community leaders throughout Ghana and has brought his inspiring story and message to thousands of people during presentations in the U.S., spoke at three events during his visit: at the Chancery in Portland; Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish; and St. Martha Church in Kennebunk.

During all three presentations, Awiapo talked about the difference the Rice Bowl program has made in his life.

“CRS Rice Bowl gave me life. It gave me hope,” said Awiapo. “It saved my life.”

Awiapo was born in a small village in Ghana, a nation on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea. As a child, his family simply struggled to survive.

“If we had one meal a day, we were lucky,” he said.

Thomas was an orphan by age ten and two of his four brothers died due to hunger and malnutrition.

“My younger brother died in my arms. I did not know he was dead until they picked him out of my arms,” he said. “That has never left me.”

One day, in search of food, he discovered a school supported by CRS Rice Bowl.

“Ever since the day they first gave me a snack and a hot meal, my life has not been the same. Today, I am still alive, holding a master’s in public administration. I am blessed with a wife and four children. My four children have never known hunger.”

CRS Rice Bowl encourages Catholics to fill cardboard bowls with monetary donations, giving alms to those in need and honoring Jesus’ call to serve our neighbors. Over 50 Catholic parishes and schools in Maine participated in the 2016 program, contributing a total of $45,070.

During the gathering in Kennebunk on November 3, Fr. Fredrick Morse, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish (of which St. Martha Church in Kennebunk is a part), accepted an official certificate of recognition from CRS for being an outstanding parish. In each of the past five years, Holy Spirit Parish has raised the most money of any parish in the diocese for CRS Rice Bowl.

“In the midst of all of the challenges and difficulties of the world, sometimes all that it takes is a little act of kindness, a little act of love, to change a life…to save a life,” said Awiapo.

To learn more about CRS, including how to help, click here.

Bible Blast to the Past!

Ruth Oakley, former director of the Diocese of Portland's Office of Missions/CRS, recently visited a Vacation Bible School at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Scarborough.

The theme of the Vacation Bible School was "Bible Blast to the Past!"

Ruth shared stories about her trip to Africa with the children and introduced them to the Mission Rosary, inviting them to become “Mission Ambassadors of Prayer.”

During her visit, helpers gave out Mission Rosaries to the children as Ruth told them about the colors that represent the different continents:

  • Green for Africa
  • Blue for Pacific Islands
  • Red for North and South America
  • White for Europe
  • Yellow for Asia

Adults can also help serve the Diocese of Portland's Office of Missions/CRS by serving as Mission Ambassadors in their parishes.

To learn more about the program, click here.

Setting Hearts on Fire During Jackman Retreat

The historic Sky Lodge in Jackman became a "Lenten Retreat Center" on March 16-18.

The retreat, "Setting Hearts on Fire for Jesus' Mission!", drew fourteen women to the lodge for a weekend of inspiriational talks, faith sharing, and beautiful views, including deer enjoying a "meal" on the new grass just becoming visible on the lawns of the lodge. Ruth Oakley, former director of Missions/CRS for the Diocese of Portland, led the retreat.

In addition, the particpants were able to take a prayer walk with the saints, immerse themselves in private reflection and prayer, and relax together with music and fellowship!

The Mission Rosary was introduced with an invitation to become Mission Ambassadors of Prayer for the diocese while “embracing” the world in prayer!

CRS Fair Trade was also discussed with an opportunity for the retreatants to learn how they can help others In developing countries earn just wages. The purchase of coffee and candy to support the cause was made available.

If you would like this retreat in your parish, please email Ruth at

Sr. Anne Amati, OSF, Sets "Hearts on Fire" During Retreat in Scarborough

The Missions/CRS Office sponsored three retreats this summer and fall entitled: “Setting Hearts on Fire for Jesus’ Mission.”

Sr. Anne Amati, OSF, (pictured below) a national retreat director and pilgrimage guide, presented the theme through the lens of “Waking Up the World” during a retreat at St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Scarborough on October 24.

Thirty women religious women from five congregations were in attendance, joined by many laity who gathered together to attend the retreat.

The congregations represented were Community of the Resurrection, Sisters of Mercy, Presentation Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Sisters of Mary Immaculate (based in Elmer, New Jersey).

When the day drew to a close, one could be sure that all hearts were on fire with great appreciation for Sr. Anne’s Franciscan spirituality!

"Setting Hearts on Fire" During Houlton Retreat

The Missions/CRS Office is "setting hearts on fire" around the Diocese of Portland in order to engage parishioners in the work being done for the Pontifical Mission Societies and for Catholic Relief Services.

On Octoeber 31, 35 participants attended a "Setting Hearts on Fire for Jesus' Mission" retreat at St. Mary the Visitation Parish in Houlton (pictures below).

Event organizer Ruth Oakley, who is also the diocesan director of the Missions/CRS Office, promoted the mission ambassador program and held a fair trade event.

Six attendees volunteered to become mission ambassadors at their parish, and all came away from the retreat saying they enjoyed the experience a great deal! 

The retreat can be held at any parish in the diocese at any time of the year.

For more information about organizing a "Setting Hearts on Fire for Jesus' Mission" retreat, contact Ruth Oakley at (207) 321-7817 or


Diocese of Portland Donates Over $86,000 to Catholic Relief Services for their Efforts in Nepal

A special collection held on June 13-14 at Catholic churches throughout the Diocese of Portland raised $86,484.24 for victims of the destructive earthquake and aftershocks that shook Nepal earlier this year.

All of the proceeds from the collection will go to Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official international humanitarian agency representing the Catholic Church in the United States.

“Allow me to express my gratitude to the many people in our parish communities for their generosity in helping to provide crucial relief and humanitarian aid in this time of devastation and suffering for the people of Nepal,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley. “The charitable giving of the people of Maine once again rose to meet an enormous challenge affecting people we will never meet. Yours is the charity of Christ. Please join me in continuing to keep the thousands of individuals and families affected in our prayers.”

Read more about the special collection by clicking here.

Mission Ambassador Program

The purpose of the Mission Ambassador Program is to connect the Missions/CRS Office to parishioners in the parish/cluster for greater awareness about the work being done for Mission, here at home and overseas.
Mission Ambassadors represent the Diocesan Mission Office by:

  • welcoming missionaries when they come to the parish for their summer appeal.
  • reminding parishioners about World Mission Sunday (October 19, 2014) by helping their pastor communicate through announcements, bulletins, and by greeting parishioners as they arrive one week before the collection.
  • promoting the Mission program (Holy Buckets) at the beginning of Advent.
  • promoting CRS Rice Bowl prior to Lent.
  • sharing initiatives from the parish with the diocesan office for publication on the website. The Diocese is doing so much to help the missions, why not let others know?
  • praying the Mission Rosary and receiving updates about missionaries.

For more information, contact:

Ruth H. Oakley, Director
Missions/CRS Office
510 Ocean Avenue
Portland, ME 04103-4936
(207) 321-7817

- See more at:

The purpose of the Mission Ambassador Program is to connect the Mission/CRS Office to parishioners in the parish/cluster for greater awareness about the work being done for Mission, here at home and overseas.

Mission Ambassadors represent the Diocesan Mission Office by:

  • welcoming missionaries when they come to the parish for their summer appeal.
  • reminding parishioners about World Mission Sunday by helping their pastor communicate through announcements and by greeting parishioners as they arrive one week before the collection.
  • promoting the Missions program, Holy Buckets, at the beginning of Advent.
  • promoting CRS Rice Bowl prior to Lent.
  • sharing initiatives from the parish with the diocesan office.
  • praying the Mission Rosary and receiving updates about missionaries.

To learn more, read an article about the Mission Ambassador Program that appeared in Harvest.

For more information, contact:

Ms. Yvonne Borelli-Chace
Office of Missions/CRS
Diocese of Portland
510 Ocean Avenue
Portland, ME 04103-4936
(207) 321-7817

World Mission Sunday Mass

Hundreds of voices and a multitude of cultures joined together on Sunday morning, October 19, at Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Parish, harmonizing in French, Spanish, and English, in celebration of World Mission Sunday.

World Mission Sunday is a day for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley celebrated the Mass and told the congregation that its diversity made Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Parish the ideal venue for the celebration.

The theme of this year’s World Mission Sunday celebration was “I Will Build My Church” (Matthew 16:18) which highlights the outreach of local churches through priests, religious, and laity among the poor and marginalized around the world.

Bishop Deeley asked for God’s blessing on the ambassadors as they bring the message of the missions to their local parishes and asked the assembly to always be conscious of ways in which they can be of assistance to each other.

During the Mass, a special collection was held for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith which assists over 1,150 dioceses in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, and remote areas of Latin America by providing pastoral programs, building churches and chapels, and meeting health care and educational needs.

To read the full story and hear from some of the new Mission Ambassadors, click here.

To view an expanded photo gallery from World Mission Sunday Mass, click here.

To read Bishop Deeley's homily from World Mission Sunday Mass, click here.

Society Membership Communicates the Faith

For many years, Catholics have followed the custom of enrolling themselves or their loved ones, living or deceased, for membership in The Society for the Propagation of the Faith. By doing so, they give an ongoing gift to members and the missions.

Membership means the person enrolled receives the spiritual benefits of daily Masses celebrated by missionary priests, and they are also included in the intentions of a daily Mass celebrated at the Vatican. Enrollment in The Society for the Propagation of the Faith is another loving, spiritual gesture one can make for a loved one and their intentions.

In many mission locations, funds from the Propagation of the Faith memberships are a substantial means of support. Many missionary priests rely on this donation because their parishioners are unable to financially sustain the parish, or the parish is young and growing with many needs. Your donation will be a spiritual benefit to your loved ones and a financial gift to the missions.

Five-year, ten-year and perpetual membership certificates are delivered to you or your parish in a white leatherette folder with a mailing envelope. Members’ intentions are included in the general sacrifice of over 15,000 Masses offered each year around the world. The suggested offering for these enrollments is:

Five Years $15
Ten Years $25
Individual Perpetual $50
Family Perpetual $100

Please make the check payable to Propagation of the Faith and mail it to Missions/CRS Office, 510 Ocean Avenue, Portland, ME 04103-4936.

Diocesan-wide Mission Rosary Group

Join now!

Join the Diocesan-wide Mission Rosary Group and help missionaries around the world with your gift of prayer.

There are no fees or requirements other than your personal commitment to prayer. You will join hundreds of other parishioners in praying for the spiritual needs of missionaries around the world. You and the Rosary Group Members will be asking Our Lady of the Rosary to intercede for them as they labor among God’s people with dedication and generosity.

[Learn more]

Mission Magazine

"To wed the afflicted and the comfortable is our humble mission, our dedicated task, our abiding joy." -- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

For six decades, MISSION has done just that, telling the story of the Church in mission countries, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and serving the poor, and showing how each of us, by Baptism, is called to be part of that story in all times, “to bring to each circumstance,” observed MISSION’s current editor, Monica Ann Yehle, “the hope-filled, life-giving Risen Lord and His love compassion.”

Mission magazine is published quarterly by the Propagation of the Faith. [Subscribe now] / [read online]