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Pierre told me the story of how the Holy Childhood Association began. Believe it or not, HCA started in the heart and mind of a tenyearold boy from France, Charles de ForbinJanson. Here's what Pierre told me.
One cold day Charles was out walking with his teacher when they came across a boy about the same age as Charles. The boy was selling roasted chestnuts. Charles noticed that the boy was not wearing any shoes. Taking pity on him, Charles took off his own shoes and gave them to the boy. Charles then ran home as fast as he could across the icy streets in his bare feet.
Charles was a very good student and loved Jesus. When he grew up, he became a priest so that he could help people and share his faith with others. In time, Charles was made a bishop.
Bishop Charles was much in demand. Many French bishops who were serving as missionaries in the United States - the "Missions" of his day - wanted this bishhop of Nancy in France to visit to the young U.S. churches and then return home to encourage interest and support for their work.
In 1839, Bishop Forbin-Janson did just that, sailing across the ocean and landing in New York, where he was welcomed with open arms by Bishop John DuBois. Continuing his travels, Bishop Forbin-Janson also visited New Orleans and Baltimore.
When Bishop Charles came back to France he told young people there about children in the Missions. French children wanted to helpthey wanted to be missionaries too so the bishop started the Holy Childhood Association (HCA). He told young people in France that they could be missionaries through their prayers and sacrifices just like you are!
Today, children in more than 110 countries, including the United States, support the work of the Holy Childhood Association through their prayers, sacrifices and financial help. Even children in some of the poorest countries offer what little they have so that other young people may learn about Jesus. And, I should know! As the official HCA Mascot, it's my job to travel around the world to find stories about HCA kids in the Missions. You can read more about these kids on this web site or in the It's Our World newsletter.
Thanks to your help through HCA, the local Catholic Church in Dairout, Egypt, is able to run a small school for poor Christian children. Here, the students learn to read and write in their native language. They also receive religious education and are prepared to receive the Sacraments. Without help from HCA, many of these very poor children would not have the opportunity to attend school. Through this humble program, these children have a chance to transform their lives. Thank you!