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.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Children Helping Children Be Somebody

The first school I visited in the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia was St. Anne School.  The Zambian school system is run differently from ours – all schools receive government aid, regardless of religious affiliation and follow the curriculum the State puts forward. Religious schools are still able to teach their faith, but the government does not provide those educational materials.  This faith formation is underwritten by the sacrifices of members of the Missionary Childhood Association.

On the day of my visit to St. Anne School,     I met with 6th graders who were hard at     work on language art skills.  Their desks    had been pushed together so they could work in small groups; each group had a different book to study. The first cluster of students I met with had a tattered, outdated geography book in front of them. The U.S.S.R. was one of the countries on the map.  Though the geographical material    was useless, the vocabulary and grammar were still worth studying.  I turned to the    map of North America and showed them where Boston is located, explaining what life is like living so close to the ocean and how it affects our livelihoods and our weather. Since Zambia   is a landlocked country this was fascinating to them.

 I moved on to a table where the children had opened the Disney story book One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The strangest concept to them about this book was not that someone would have 101 dogs, but that even one of them would live in the house! In the missions, dogs are working animals.  They spend their lives outside, working on the farm or serving as security.  The children knew nothing of the book being made into a cartoon movie or the music that went along with it – I sang them    the song of Cruella Deville and they giggled with delight!

When speaking to the whole class, I told them about their counterparts in the Archdiocese of Boston: children in Catholic schools and parish Religious Education programs who studied and learned in classrooms as they did (although with more up-to-date materials).  I asked the students if they liked going to school. As with our own children, some said yes; some laughingly said no. One girl, however, caught my eye with her shy smile – her answer had been yes, so I asked her why.  She looked me straight in the eye and said,                   “Because, ma’am, I want to be somebody.”

I assured her that in God’s eyes, she already was.  
-Maureen Crowley Heil

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