Michele Meiers of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia dances with young people following a special Mass in 2011 marking Missionary Childhood Day in Nairobi, Kenya. Making connections drives the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis reminded Catholics to support evangelization efforts worldwide through the Pontifical Mission Societies.

The pope called for “support for missionaries who evangelize and for support, above all, through prayer so that the Holy Spirit,” who is “the principle agent of evangelization,” will be present and fruitful.

Pope Francis made his comments in a video message May 28 to members of the mission societies as they attended their annual meeting near Rome.

The societies include the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Missionary Childhood Association, the Society of St. Peter Apostle and the Missionary Union of Priests and Religious. They help poor churches and communities around the world, and they support thousands of health clinics, orphanages, schools, seminarians and religious sisters and brothers in more than 1,150 mission dioceses — mostly in Africa and Asia.

“Why are the Pontifical Mission Societies important?” the pope asked.

“Because we must pray for missionaries, for the evangelizing action of the church, he said. “Prayer is the first ‘missionary work’ — the first! — that every Christian can and must do, and it also the most effective even if this can’t be measured.”

All Catholics are called to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and promote the missionary spirit of the church, he said.

The mission societies also “guarantee in the pope’s name an equal distribution of aid so that all the churches in the world have a minimum of assistance for evangelization, for the sacraments, for their own priests, seminaries, pastoral work and for catechists,” he said.

The pope encouraged everyone to work together in their shared responsibility of proclaiming the Gospel and supporting young churches through the world of the mission societies.