A history of humble service
This year, PIME celebrate 75 years of being present in the United States. In 1947, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions was invited to expand our missionary presence to the Archdiocese of Detroit in Michigan. It was an invitation that has led to 75 years of storied service here in the US, the missions, and the world. Raising funds and support for PIME Missions around the world has always been a priority for PIME in the United States, ever since the original intention of coming to the country to find the aid necessary to mend the wounds of World War II. In this effort however, a new calling to raise missionaries to enact these healing measures soon began; resulting in providing the missions with some of the most spirited missionaries they had ever witnessed.
1947: PIME finds a home in the US at San Francesco Parish in Detroit
In October of 1947, Cardinal Edward Mooney assigned Fr. Guido Margutti, PIME, to live at the rectory of the Parish of San Francesco on 1035 Brewster Street, Detroit, Michigan, as a guest of the Pastor, Fr. Emil Capano. It was within the walls of this parish - that has shared its history with the PIME Missionaries ever since - that the PIME Mission in the United States was born. At the beginning of the following year, official permission would be granted for a religious house to be founded in the Archdiocese of Detroit.
1950-1960: PIME sows the seeds of growth in the US
In 1951, Fr. Nicholas Maestrini (far left) is assigned to the United States, beginning a storied tenure of fundraising for the missions of the church that is still incomparable. One of his first efforts in the US included the formation of the PIME Mission Center leading to the creation of the PIME Sponsorships program in 1958 and the PIME Mission Development Projects program in 1960. He created Catholic Life magazine in 1954 to share the work of our missionaries, helped conceive our PIME Golf Day fundraiser in 1957, and funded Bill Deneen’s mission films starting in 1956. Fr. Maestrini opened several seminaries in these decades including Sts. Peter and Paul Seminary in 1956, Maryglade College in 1960, and Queen of Apostles Seminary in 1961.
1970-1980: The Holy Spirit guides PIME
Following two decades of growth and a focus on the education of those called to the missionary vocation, a change in the religious landscape resulted in the closure of the PIME collegiate seminary as well as others; this was not before many respected missionaries would be ordained there. Students still walked the halls of the minor seminary in Newark and were inspired to pursue the unique PIME vocation. During this time, the seeds were also being sown for a new mission in the US among Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles, California, where Fr. Giulio Cancelli had recently assumed the responsibility of a primarily Hispanic parish. Many PIME priests would serve here, with Fr. Bruno Piccolo being the last in the 90s (pictured). Working with immigrants would become a constant in the work of PIME in the US.
1990-2000: A new mission is born
At the beginning of the 1900s, PIME had tried to establish a mission south of the United States border only to be expelled. However in this time, Fr. Steve Baumbusch succeeded in laying the foundation for a presence in Mexico that continues to this day. Invited by the Mexican Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, Fr. Steve ministered among the indigenous Mixteco people while helping to establish access to basic life necessities – an ongoing effort in the isolated homes of these people, often overlooked by the greater populous.
2010-2020: Serving our community and the world
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, a renewed focus was given to the mission community in our backyard in Detroit. Fr. Guy Snyder (pictured), Fr. Ken Mazur, Fr. Ravi Marneni, and Fr. Giancarlo Ghezzi served Spanish-speaking parishes in Detroit in partnership with the Archdiocese of Detroit. At this same time, Fr. Vijay Marneni would be assigned Pastor of St. Ann-St. Lucy in Harlem, serving alongside Fr. Bruno Piccolo for a time; Fr. Marco Brioschi would serve at the Basilica of Regina Pacis – alongside Fr. Giorgio Ferrara until his passing – and would eventually join Fr. Vijay at the combined parish. Our ministerial focus in the US was coupled with an emphasis on growing our contribution to the missions abroad.
Present Day: Adapting to the needs of the missions
Charitable aid guided by the Holy Spirit and the principles of the Catholic Church has always been a focus of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in the United States since we found a home in Detroit in 1947. Over 75 years of serving in this country has shaped our missionary presence at home and abroad. While our missionaries focus on the mission within our community, our Mission Center concentrates on a greater impact on the missions abroad. The past few years have been some of the most difficult for the missions, yet our center and our supporters have met these challenges and will continue to do so well into the future.
75 Years of service by the numbers
Children Sponsored today
Chapels Built to date
Projects completed since 2008
A global impact –
The US PIME Mission Center
Over a lifespan that has seen several devoted staff and volunteers, across a few buildings, the US PIME Mission Center has strived to adapt to the needs of the missions as they change over the years. Our Sponsorships at a Distance program - which began as the Foster Parents Mission Club all the way back in 1958 - gives PIME donors in the US an opportunity to provide education and shelter for children, youth, and seminarians around the globe. Following the creation of the Sponsorships program, the current Mission Development Projects program began as the Leprosy Relief Society in 1960. Both applications of the US PIME Mission Center’s relief efforts have affected the lives of countless needy men, women, and children on six continents.
Continuing the legacy together
2022 marks 75 years of missionary service that has co-opted a tradition that has been a part of the character of the United States since PIME found a new home here back in 1947: helping the less fortunate around the world. An important part of the PIME presence in the United States has always been the friends that have helped us along the way, without people like you our mission to aid the isolated or ignored in 19 countries around the world would not be possible. Our anniversary of charitable aid and spiritual impact is just as much yours as it is ours. Together, we will continue to heal the wounds of violence, neglect, or intolerance through the merciful influence of the Holy Spirit as well as our friends and missionaries.