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, December 30, 2012

Mission Prayers for Those in Harms’ Way

The season's first brush with nature, Hurricane Sandy, brought rain,      wind, flooding and untold millions of dollars of damage to the area       within our Archdiocese, not to mention the whole east Coast of our country.  It caused the postponement of our Missionary Childhood Association’s Mission Education Day for school and parish Religious Education teachers and students at the Cathedral with Cardinal Seán     and missionaries from around the world – a disappointment to be sure.
During the storm, I received emails and texts from friends in the missions around the world who, by the miracle of technology, were tracking the storm, watching Boston and sending prayers our way.  One in particular came from Father Gabriel Msipu, pastor of the sub-parish of Mary,       Mother of God in the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia.  Father’s location was one of the last that I visited in June 2011.  Through local labor and donations, and help from the Propagation of the Faith, they had built a place of worship, an outdoor meeting space and a block of offices and classroom spaces. What they lacked to become a full time parish was a rectory; what they lacked to build a rectory was indoor running water. 
It was ironic to me that what we were all rushing to the store to buy in bottles due to the hurricane was something that Father Gabriel and his people could not get in their homes and parishes on a daily basis.
In his email, Father assured me of his prayers and reminded me of his own hope to go deeper into the African bush to serve the indigenous people of his rural diocese in a place called the Luangwa Valley.
The residents of this area are people on the move – they travel with the seasons. While their crops grow, they live with them, protecting them from local wild animals – elephants, hippopotamus and baboons.  During the rainy season, they are literally isolated; the rains flood them in and keep them from travelling outside their own villages from our late fall to late spring.  That means they go without faith formation, sacramental preparation and, most importantly, Eucharistic celebration for up to five months, generally missing Christmas and Easter because no priest can reach them.
While we watched the wind and rain blow in from Sandy, knowing that some would lose power, praying that no lives would be lost, my thoughts and prayers were also with Father Gabriel and the people of the Luangwa Valley knowing that through the support of all the Pontifical Mission Societies, one day the Diocese of Chipata may have more priests to spare to serve all their people no matter the weather.
-Maureen Crowley Heil

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