The Pontifical Mission Societies, known in some countries as Missio, is the name of a group of Catholic missionary societies that are under the jurisdiction of the Pope. These organizations include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, the Holy Childhood Association and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious.
Since 1922, Missio has been the Catholic Church's official support organisation for overseas missions.
The Pope specifically asks the Pontifical Mission Societies to help bring the messages of Christ to the world, especially in countries where Christianity is new, young or poor. The societies care for and support the younger churches until they are able to be self-sufficient.
Missio raises awareness and fosters prayer and cooperation in the whole Catholic Church, with 120 offices worldwide. It is the only organisation which supports every one of the 1,200 mission dioceses of the world. Missio exists through the generosity of Catholics and plays a crucial role in combating poverty, disease, injustice and exploitation.
In March 2011, Reverend Andrew Small, OMI, was appointed the National Director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. In August 2013, Father Small travelled to Lisieux to collect the writing desk (the écritoire) of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, on which she wrote the spiritual classic Story of a Soul. The Pontifical Mission Societies sponsored a tour of the desk in the United States from August to October 2013.
On 26 June 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Protase Rugambwa, who until then had been serving as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kigoma, Tanzania, as the Deputy Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and as President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, naming him an archbishop. He succeeded Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli. Rugambwa ceased to be president after being Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on 9 November 2017, with Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso replacing him.