As one of the four Pontifical Mission Societies, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle supports men and women candidates for the priesthood and religious life in mission dioceses through prayer, sacrifice, and generosity. In its first year, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle sent help for some 2,700 seminarians in the missions! Today, more than 30,000 seminarians in some 400 seminaries, mostly in Africa and Asia, receive an annual subsidy of $750 per student. This subsidy pays for room, board, books, buildings, and professors needed for the training of the seminarians. In addition, close to 10,000 men and women religious novices receive assistance. Support provided through the Society for St. Peter the Apostle ensures that these young men and women may continue to answer their call to serve Our Lord.
In 1889, Stephanie and Jeanne Bigard – mother and daughter – answered a desperate plea for help from the French missionary Bishop of Nagasaki of Japan. He wrote to the two women asking for help to keep his seminary open because he had run out of the funds necessary to help educate these young men to serve their people as priests. The Bigards came to the Bishop's assistance and started a small group for this purpose in their native Caen, France. From these humble beginnings emerged the Society of St. Peter the Apostle. Within five years of sending their first donation to Japan, the Bigards and those whom they enlisted to help were sending funds to seminaries in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Korea, and China.