Guest Columnist
Msgr. James McDonough

“When the World Mission rosary is completed, one has embraced all continents, all people in prayer.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

The Pontifical Mission Societies have, as their primary purpose, the promotion of a universal missionary spirit – a spirit of prayer and sacrifice – among all baptized Catholics.

In February 1951, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966, inaugurated a World Mission rosary in his Catholic Hour radio address.

“We must pray, and not for ourselves, but for the world. To this end, I have designed the World Mission rosary. Each of the five decades is of a different color to represent the continents.” Praying this rosary, Archbishop Sheen said, would “aid the Holy Father and his Society for the Propagation of the Faith by supplying him with practical support, as well as prayers, for the poor mission territories of the world.”

The different colored beads of each decade call to mind an area where the Church continues her evangelization mission: green for the forests of Africa; blue for the ocean surrounding the islands of the Pacific; white symbolizing Europe, the seat of the Holy Father, shepherd of the world; red, calling to mind the fire of faith that brought missionaries to the Americas; and yellow, the morning light of the East, for Asia.

Catholics throughout the world share a devotion to the Blessed Mother through the rosary. Father Michael Useni, my counterpart in the African country of Malawi, told us that during the month of October, he traveled to each of the 21 churches that comprise his parish. Father Useni spent the month of the rosary “visiting the small Christian communities, praying the rosary together and then celebrating the Marian Mass.”

The Holy Childhood Association (HCA), one of our Pontifical Mission Societies, brings the story of the Gospel to our young people in grades kindergarten through eight. Children throughout the world, including those living in Mission Dioceses, belong to HCA. Sister Mary Philomena, from the Bottomley Home and Orphanage in Dhaka, Bangladesh, tells us, “Every evening we pray the rosary for the children in America who have shared their savings and sacrifices with us. May God bless all the children of the world!” Seven percent of Bangladeshi children under age 14 are in the workforce; about 36 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

Some young members of the Holy Childhood Association of our Archdiocese prayed the Living World Mission rosary last October. The children of the religious education program at Mother of spanine Providence Parish in King of Prussia assembled in the church holding colored paper roses and took turns reciting the prayers of the rosary. At Our Lady of Fatima School in Bensalem, the eighth grade students researched each of the parts of the world represented on the World Mission rosary, created a banner for each decade and led the rest of the children in prayer.

Students at St. Alphonsus School in Maple Glen and St. Aloysius Academy in Bryn Mawr made rosaries and donated them to the missions.

World Mission rosaries are available through the Pontifical Mission Societies at a cost of $3 for a child’s rosary and $10 for an adult rosary. Brochures in English or Spanish explaining how to pray the World Mission rosary can also be ordered. Contact our office at (215) 587-3945 of The brochure is available as a PDF file on our website,

Pray the World Mission rosary online at

Msgr. James McDonough is the director of the archdiocesan Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.