Recently, my youngest son volunteered to help his grandmother clean up and “close down” her elementary school classroom for the summer. While there, he texted to let me know he had closed his eyes and pointed to a map of the world just for fun. When he opened his eyes, he discovered he was pointing to Newfoundland, Canada. Ironically, our family has long-planned to travel to this easternmost island in North America (excluding Greenland), and hope to do so next year.
My children have always been excited about travel. For many years, we planned family vacations around opportunities to ride old steam trains because my oldest was an enthusiastic fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. In fact, no matter where we traveled, my husband and I always tried to “sneak in” as much learning as there was family fun.
My son’s shared enthusiasm for his impromptu “map quest” made me immediately think of MISSIO. “Imagine,” I thought, “how exciting it would be for young people to not only learn about those faraway places on a globe, but also ‘chat’ with those serving in the Pope’s missions in those countries – many of whom are doing amazing work with young people!”
That’s just what the students of Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario, did. Looking for a service project, some of the young people in the high school found MISSIO, and then, with the help of their school chaplain, Dushani Selvakumar, set out to engage the whole school community in connecting with the mission projects and project leaders they found.
Choosing a few projects and issues, student leaders put those projects out for a “vote” on social media. In the end, they helped raise funds for two MISSIO projects – bringing medical help to children in Zambia and buying backpacks for students in Mongolia.
In speaking about the experience with us, Dushani expressed an interest in building MISSIO into the school curriculum and corresponding more with the missionaries. “MISSIO offers a needed opportunity to re-envision what mission means for young people,” she told us. Personally, I hope she and her students connect with Father Iftikhar Moon, a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate (OMI). He’s taking on the modern-day slavery of bonded labor that he finds in his native Pakistan by starting a program in his parish to fight it. More on that in my next blog.
Until then, I invite you to explore MISSIO with the young people in your life. Perhaps you may even recommend it as a summer activity – an opportunity to become a digital “pen pal”!
P.S. As a parent, I believe it’s never too early to start teaching children about the needs of their brothers and sisters in the Missions. That’s why I’m including this fun activity for “little ones” – it’s perfect for those long car rides to your summer vacation destination.
MISSIO offers a world of connections for you - and the young people in your life.
Dushani Selvakumar and students from Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario
Hi there! I'm Patty from Team MISSIO! I left my life in the for-profit sector some 15 years ago to join the Pope's missions and haven't looked back since. My love of the Mission Church was inspired by my grandfather, an avid reader of both National Geographic and MISSION Magazine. I draw inspiration each and every day from the missionaries I meet who live their lives in service of the Gospel. Sign up for "Patty's Picks" - and I'll see you to share more soon!