I met her while accompanying a religious Sister to a Communion call at the home of one family in a village outside the city of Arusha in Tanzania. As we were all about to pray before Communion, the little girl in that family asked the Sister if she could hold the missionary’s hand. Placing her cold little hand in my hot sweaty one (with temperatures so high, one should naturally have hot hands), I could feel her squeeze my hand during the Our Father, causing me to open one eye to take a peek at her precious little face, leaving me with a feeling that I was looking at a living angel.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.... If you are not familiar with this quote, it is from a letter that was written by The New York Sun back in 1897 in response to eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who was questioning if there really is a Santa Claus. Many children throughout the world believe in Santa Claus, identifying him as St. Nicholas. Being a kind and generous man, St. Nicholas would give gifts to the poor, leaving them in stockings hung by the fireplace! Today, there are many children in our world who don’t receive material gifts at Christmas. These children would tell you that they receive the greatest gift of all, the gift of “life.” To wake up and live another day, even with their sufferings, is considered to be a gift, a blessing. And they would add that the missionaries there with them are blessings as well.
Greetings at the end of this "extraordinary" month for mission! Pope Francis had declared October 2019 to be an Extraordinary Missionary Month, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud. The theme for this month: “Baptized and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World.” In light of that, I felt that this would be an appropriate time to share with you the story of a dear friend of mine whom I feel is an “extraordinary” missionary priest, Father Thomas Kevin Kraft, OP. Here is the story of how, through the grace of God, we met, and how our lives would someday intertwine in the African missions.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me... We all know how the song goes, and every time I hear it I think of a holy woman I have been blessed to meet. Her name is “Grace,” and she is from the Ongata Rongai slum, which is located in Kibera in the southwest of Nairobi in Kenya.