This past Easter, I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my Baptism into the Catholic Church. For me, the Easter Season serves as a personal reminder of the splendor and awe that overcame me when I entered the Church that first time. I felt as if I was at “home” ~ a home with a “Father” and a “Mother.” In the past 20 years, I have been blessed to meet and work with many wonderful priests, for whom I am honored to call “Father.” I have also worked with many religious who have deep devotions to our Mother, “Mary the Mother of God.”
Catholic young people here in the United States are fortunate to be able to participate in various activities in parishes at Easter and year round. These recent activities include the reenactment of the Passion of Christ, allowing students to participate in the Stations of the Cross during school hours, and even attending a Seder dinner organized by some of our Catholic young people. Some Easter activities that Missionary Childhood Association youth are involved with include hunting for eggs on parish grounds (photo left by Ashleigh Buyers / Arlington Catholic Herald), crafting Easter bonnets that are later worn during parish Easter parades, and attending the “Blessing of the Baskets” where families can gather together and get their food items blessed the Saturday prior to Easter.
Unfortunately, we know that many children in developing countries live a far different reality, not only during the Easter Season but also during the hours of each day ~ a reality filled more with the suffering and sacrifice of Good Friday and less with the joy and hope of Easter Sunday. Throughout my mission travels, I have witnessed many missionaries who have been called to serve the poor by working towards providing everyday necessities for children. Whether it be water, food, health care, education, even providing homes. During one of my mission journeys to Ethiopia, I witnessed a village suffering from a pain that I have never experienced. The pain of “hunger.” One elderly woman told me it is the worst pain she had ever experienced. It was Easter time, and although many of us at home were fortunate to have our tables filled with varieties of food, these villagers would go days, sometimes weeks without anything to eat. With God’s graces and the help of the Missionary Childhood Association MCA, we were able to provide Easter dinner for the entire village! Every mother was able to have a cup of rice and tomatoes to feed her family Easter dinner. Witnessing the bags of rice being delivered, and the women walking miles with what seemed to be a cup, left me with a memory in my heart which will never be forgotten.
experience had me pondering, and then giving thanks for the many blessings ~ like food and water ~ in my own life. Giving thanks especially for the true blessing of the "home" that I found in the Church 20 years ago at Easter, the "home" that the poor of the Missions find through the kindness and actions of missionaries supported by the generosity to the Pope's missionary societies. The Mission Church is working throughout the world helping priests, religious and lay leaders, to provide everyday necessities for children and families in need ~ children who suffer from hunger and thirst, children who are abandoned, or have disabilities, HIV/AIDS. MCA is addressing these issues by fundraising to support projects worldwide. Some of these include:
- Moshi, Tanzania, where the new religious community of women, Adorer Missionary Sisters of the Poor, are educating abandoned children. More than 200 children are in the care of these Sisters, attending St. John Vianney School in Malowa Village.The parish where the home and school are located has over 700 children without families ~ little ones dire need of love, compassion and education.
- the Dominican Republic, where Catherine Eisenbeil, a parishioner from St. Mary’s Parish in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is trying to help the two religious Sisters at the Holy Infant Divine Hands Mission add another staff member to help care for 35 orphaned children.
Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
There is an immense population of children in need throughout the globe. Praying you find "room" in your heart to help them find a "home" through the efforts of the Missionary Childhood Association in the Mission Church. And as we entrust them to the care of our Mother Mary, know that I pray also for each of you.
To get to Jesus, you must go through His Mother first.
Mary Mother of God, Pray for us
Until next time!
Giving the World a Hug...
In February 1951, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith from 1950 to 1966), in a radio address (The Catholic Hour), inaugurated a World Mission Rosary. "We must pray, and not for ourselves, but for the world. To this end, I have designed the World Mission Rosary," Archbishop Sheen said. Each decade of the World Mission Rosary is a different color representing each part of the world where missionaries continue to share the Good News of Jesus. GREEN symbolizes the forests and grasslands of AFRICA. BLUE is for the ocean surrounding the ISLANDS OF THE PACIFIC. WHITE symbolizes EUROPE, home of the Holy Father, shepherd of the world. RED shows the fire of faith that brought the first missionaries to the AMERICAS, and YELLOW is for the morning light of the East, symbolizing ASIA. Consider the attached World Mission Rosary activity for young people. And, no matter your age, you can pray the World Mission Rosary. "When the World Mission Rosary is completed, one has embraced all continents, all people in prayer," Archbishop Sheen said. So right now ~ and maybe every day ~ give the world a hug!
“Hol(l)y Headlines!” ~ a bit of a play on words ~ is an "Extra! Extra! Read All About It" call to build missionary momentum as part of our ongoing effort to educate and motivate the next generation of the Catholic Church's missionaries. The blog's author, Holly Benner, is National Coordinator for the Missionary Childhood Association. She's also the mission education coordinator in her home Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. She has a passion for the missions and experience in making mission real at the diocesan level. For 10 years, Holly traveled frequently to Africa as president of a faith-based non-profit that she founded, one focused on developing sustainable water resources among poor communities.