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.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gratitude for New Beginnings

As my plane left Entebbe, Uganda on June 14, 2011, I found myself reflecting on the two weeks of joyous faith I had found in the mission Church of Uganda.  At every stop, whether it was a school, a parish, a rural outstation, or the Bishops’ headquarters itself I met and prayed with men, women and children who were devoted to the spread of the Gospel.  Each one was so very grateful to our Pontifical Mission Societies for the support provided so that their work could be done. 

Children in schools and parishes across the country sang their Holy Childhood Association National Anthem for me (click here and watch Building Bridges at St. Maria Goretti School in Tororo, Uganda) as they told me about their own faith formation made possible by the sacrifices of their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.  Priests and Sisters gave me tours of the seminaries and novitiates and introduced me to the next generation of Uganda’s clergy and sisters.  They acknowledged that without the help of The Society of St. Peter Apostle, their education and that of the current students would be impossible.

And of course, the mark of the Propagation of the Faith was everywhere I turned!  Churches, hospitals, feeding programs, clean water projects…the list is as endless as our donors’ generosity.

I found myself happily exhausted – I had not laid my head on the same pillow more than once the whole trip – but more lay ahead.  I was headed to Zambia where I would spend another two weeks as the guest of Fr. Bernard Makadani Zulu, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Zambia.

Needless to say, I hit the ground running!  My very first day found me as an honored guest, representing you, at the dedication at a new parish, St. Lawrence the Martyr.  The church building, which had taken five years to complete, had been partially funded by the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States.  The parish will serve the residents of the shanty towns that are home to the poor of Lusaka in a place called Kamwala/Misisi.  The faithful gathered from neighboring parishes in droves.  The ceremony was so well attended that we celebrated the five hour Liturgy outside – the new structure could not hold us all!

With young men dancing in native costumes leading the way, the throngs processed around and through the worship site following the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Nicolas Girasoli and Joseph Cardinal Mazombwe, Archbishop Emeritus of Lusaka (pictured above, center).  Both men then planted saplings in front of the church as signs of the new life of faith begun that day.

One journey had ended, another had just begun.  Like the parishioners of St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish, I was filled with gratitude for both.

-Maureen Crowley Heil

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