The Mission Hub

The Pontifical Mission 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. These Societies promote a prayerfulmissionary spirit among baptized Catholics and to gather a fund of support for the evangelizing and pastoral programs of more than 1,150 local churches of the Developing World.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ordained For Us All

Being a parish priest is an experience shared by men ordained around the world, yet unique to the missions in the way that vocation is lived. In Boston, most priests have one physical location to serve; in Uganda, a pastor may serve as many as 35 to 40 outstations. Simple math will tell you that the people in these places are lucky to see a priest for Mass and sacraments twice a year.

It was my honor to be present at one of these bi-annual celebrations with Fr. Cyril Buyeera, Director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Archdiocese of Tororo, Uganda. He is also pastor for Mater Dei Parish, which has 41 outstations spread across the mountains. This particular Sunday found us at St. Tereza’s. Though we were expected at 8:30 AM, schedule delays and road conditions kept us away until 11:00 AM.

My thought was, “Who will still be there?” The answer, of course, was everyone!

As Fr. Cyril and I entered, people sang and cheered. This continued as Father opened his suitcase (an oversized Mass kit), set out the altar linens and vested for Mass. The liturgy lasted 3 hours. I know, I can hear readers groaning! But think about this – if you had walked more than one hour to get to what may be your only Mass of the year, would you really want it to be over too quickly?

The mud walled, iron roofed chapel was packed with hundreds of worshippers sharing small wooden benches. Children sat on the dirt floor around the altar. Those for whom there was no room inside stood at the openings in the wall where someday windows may be installed. All in attendance sang, danced and praised God with such joy! When the moment of consecration came, the congregation erupted in applause – Jesus had come! They had had been waiting for so long…

Because of the work of the Society of St. Peter Apostle (SPA), one of our four Pontifical Mission Societies, and its support of religious vocations in the missions, Fr. Cyril is able to bring Jesus in the Eucharist to the people of the village of Goozi. By helping to educate local clergy, SPA hopes that one day, Fr. Cyril’s people will have what we take for granted: weekly Mass, access to the sacraments and the presence of a priest in our families’ times of joy and sadness.

Please take a moment to thank God for your local priests. Then prayerfully consider giving someone in the missions the opportunity to do the same.

Next time: The Widow’s Mite Comes to Life in Goozi

-Maureen Crowley Heil

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