Quick: What exactly does the Society for the Propagation of the Faith do?
If you stuttered for a minute or two, you’re not the only one.
“When I tell everybody I work in the office of the Propagation of the Faith, they don’t know what that means,” said Dorothy Brokos, office manager. “So I tell them the missions office.”
“The name is a misnomer,” agreed Agnes Supernavage, project assistant on the Baltimore-Haiti Outreach Project.
That’s why as of Oct. 1 the name of the office has been changed to the more descriptive Missions Office.
“We have a new archbishop and we have a new name,” joked Deacon Rodrigue Mortel, M.D., director of the newly renamed Missions Office.
The Society for the Propagation of the Faith promoted an awareness of the missions, collected and distributed funds for missionary work and coordinated missionary efforts such as the Baltimore-Haiti Outreach Project. It’s one of three societies – the other two are the Society of the St. Peter the Apostle and the Holy Childhood Association – that fall under the Pontifical Mission Societies. Pontifical means it’s under the wing of the Vatican, as in pontiff.
But the old title, said Dr. Mortel, makes “you think it’s something in the Vatican.”
Those in the know often referred to it simply as the Missions Office, and that title is now official. It will take nearly a year to have the name changed on everything from e-mail addresses to signs to stationery.
Deacon Mortel and his staff joke that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck … and the new name reflects what the office is and does. And the work isn’t limited to far-flung corners of the world, either; part of what the Missions Office does is bring people from those far countries to share their experiences with parishes in Baltimore, spiritually enriching Catholics here.
“Our name should reflect what we do,” said Dr. Mortel.