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.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Education is the Tool

Imagine driving for hours past unfamiliar sights – half-constructed building already being used as road side stores and homes, chickens and goats running freely with the children, banana trees and corn growing together everywhere.

This was Day Four in Uganda. I was being driven by Fr. Sylvester Arinaitwe, former Superior General of the Apostles of Jesus (AJ), a missionary order founded in 1968 in Africa.

Fr. Silver, as he is known, drove us into the Diocese of Kasana-Luweero. The AJs are hard at work building a school, health clinic and chapel complex on a local farm run by the order and their affiliated Sisters, the Evangelizing Sisters of Mary. The children at the school were waiting patiently for our arrival – they had moved all their chairs to one of the three existing classrooms so they could perform their songs, poems and prayers for their visitors.

The Sisters and teacher put them through their paces as they recited their lessons for us; then came the beautiful singing. Their best song carried a message for all children: “Education is the tool I must use, education is the tool I must use, education is the tool I must use…oh-oh-oh-oh education ooh.”

One by one they stepped forward to sing the verses – “I’d like to be a pilot before I die (A pilot! The chorus would exclaim) I’d like to be a pilot before I die…” Then a nurse, a doctor, and a would-be Sister stepped forward. All these children of God had dreams and knew that the education provided by missionaries was their key to realizing them.

As I handed out medals to them in gratitude for their hard work, I promised them that the people where I lived, far away in Boston, would not forget them through our support of the Apostles of Jesus. Though too young to understand the program, they are direct beneficiaries of prayers and donations being made in our parishes during the Mission Co Operative Program in which the AJs take part, this year preaching in Mission Church in Roxbury, St. Michael Parish in Avon, and Holy Family in Duxbury among others.

The assistance we provide will help them to add classrooms, a library, a dining hall and more to their students in Uganda.

And who knows? Perhaps one day, that young child will be a pilot and fly all the way to Boston, thanks to the AJ missionaries who gave him the tool to use.

One Heart, One Family

Throughout our history the Church has been blessed with dedicated religious communities of women. In our own Archdiocese many of us know the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Sisters of Charity. Less familiar to some of us are the Little Sisters of the Assumption who work locally in Dorchester and South Boston. Cardinal Cushing first invited the Sisters into the Archdiocese and asked them to settle in Dorchester. Since they are an international community, present in more than twenty-four countries, he knew that they would be a good fit with the rapidly-developing multicultural population in Boston.

Their “charism,” or particular gift for ministry, embraces not only the spiritual needs of the people whom they serve, but also their physical and material needs. The Little Sisters have been present in Dorchester for over a half-century where they operate a Family Emergency Shelter on Magnolia Street. This Shelter, known as Project Hope, accommodates eight homeless mothers and their children. As a result of this initial venture, the Sisters have built a strong community identity through networking with other organizations.

The Sisters also offer programs leading to the GED for those who were unable to finish high school. Their efforts are aimed particularly at young mothers, assisting them to develop job skills that will enable them to support themselves and their children in a dignified manner. Finally, there is an Emergency Food Pantry that feeds more than 150 families every month.

Over and above their work in the Archdiocese they are primarily a missionary community. Whether in Central or South America, Africa, the Philippines, Europe, or New Zealand, the Little Sisters of the Assumption bring the presence of Christ to those whom they serve. In doing so, they contribute to the creation of “one heart, one family” wherever they minister.

For more information on the missionary work of the Church, see our website www.propfaithboston,org.