Monday, 23 May 2011

The Red Box: Celebrating 75 years of generosity and faith!

Missio reports that: "2011 celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Red Box and the support given by the Catholics of England and Wales to countless missionaries, missions and people in countries where the Church is young and poor. Today the iconic Red Box, unique to England and Wales, is present in more than 200,000 homes. Thanks to the generosity of so many people, in 2010 the Catholics of England and Wales contributed more than £3 million to 39 dioceses in 5 countries and to Mill Hill’s work with the poor in 27 countries.

The Association for the Propagation of the Faith (APF) and the Mill Hill Missionaries agreed to work together in 1936 and so the APF-Mill Hill Red Box was born. The sides of the first Red Box declared that ‘The APF supports the work of spreading the Gospel throughout the world’ and that Mill Hill Missionaries are ‘Britain’s own Missionary Society of Priests, Brothers and Associates’. The familiar circle encompassing the black and white APF-Mill Hill insignia was replaced by a picture of the world with the Cross both at its centre and in its foreground. Yet just as life is not static, neither was the Red Box! The next version bore a more colourful label, but retained, both, ‘To be a Christian is to be a missionary’ and the reminder to pray for the Missions.

Today’s Red Box looks very different from its predecessors, but its function and message are the same: to be a Christian is to be a missionary.

In order to mark the 75th anniversary, a special Mass of Thanksgiving will be concelebrated in each diocese in England and Wales between 28 May and 23 October. In Arundel & Brighton Diocese it will be on Saturday 10th September at the Friary, Crawley with Bishop Kieran.

So what does the Red Box do?

The money given to the APF through the Red Box goes directly to the bishops of the dioceses where it will be used.

So how do your Red Box contributions bring faith and new life communities around the world?

• Catechists and Prayer Leaders are trained, bringing people together when the priest can only visit a village a couple of times each year. Thus, even in the most remote places, villagers are prepared for the Sacraments, babies are baptised and funerals are conducted. Often the catechists’ wives teach women to read and write.

• Newly-weds begin their life together within a supportive faith community that helps mothers find medicines for sick children, fathers learn job skills and children to live beyond infancy. All this happens because the Red Box builds churches, schools and hospitals.

• Families have dignity and hope because development and health education become a reality, avoiding and reducing disease.

• Sisters continue to equip and run schools, clinics and hospitals in towns and in rural areas, offering dignity and hope to the poor, love to orphans, food and education to hungry children, medicine to the sick and skills-training to young people.

• The Red Box support for the local Church wherever it is young or poor means that dioceses have priests and new priests can be assigned to a parish community, making the Sacraments available even in remote areas.

• The guarantee of support through the Red Box enables the continued existence of dioceses and parishes and the opening-up of new dioceses and parishes, spreading faith, hope and life in a world that urgently needs to know and experience the love of God.

We hope you will join us in giving thanks for this great initiative which builds communities of faith here and throughout the world. 75 years of generosity and faith are worth celebrating!"

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