When a pandemic strike, it affects us in all spheres of life, but also it provokes us to come out of our comfort zones and think beyond. Today we cannot close our eyes ongoing digital in our work of evangelization. My love for the Catholic Liturgy, especially Mass has made me think of producing this video (with more coming). With support and encouragement from Fr James Bahash, my pastor here at St John the Evangelist, Encinitas CA, am proud to send to you this.
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Papua New Guinea, an independent country, is the second biggest Island in the world after Green land. It is seated on the Pacific Ocean and borders Australia from the North. This country is one of the last places to be discovered by the explorers (read: Australians) around 1923, who was searching for Gold.
The Australians started to place a development plan on the Island, and the missionaries from different countries came in preached the word and encouraged development, Education and set up health centres. Unfortunately, during the Second World War, Papua New Guinea became the base of the big powers; the Japanese surrendered in 1945 on this Island. As a result, most missionaries went back to their original countries. They left the country in a dilapidating condition.
Papua New Guinea started its journey to Self-governance September 26, 1975, at the attainment of independence. It has since then encountered so many challenges, including a high level of corruption that has resulted in poor health and educational facilities and other social services as well.
With this in mind, the church is playing a prominent role in its partnership with the government to liberate people in different aspects of life but still suffers betrayal of corruption from some other government officials. Despite this, the church is doing its best to touch the lives of the people through Health, Education and other developments. The people are looking to the Missionary priests to support them in every aspect of life.
Fr. Bernard Woniala AJ, the pastor of St. George Vavua Roman Catholic Parish, lives in one of the most interior villages in the islands around the coast, and he caters for about four thousand families. His parish is one of the churches of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kimbe, it is located in Vavua Village, Kimbe Town. The Island is detached from the central city, and the only way to and fro the city is by air.
Apostolate and Promising development
Fr. Bernard was assigned to the parish in the year 2015 after many years without a priest. The parish was in terrible shape; the Church, the Rectory and the Sunday school structure for kids in terrible condition. It is estimated that about 82 percent of the population is illiterate, and 15 per cent have received a minimum level of Education.
He says that People trust the church and seek all the hope and assurance they can get from it. Priests are expected to give advice on health, legal issues and other areas outside their primary training of shepherding the people of God through the gospel and the sacraments.
The Roads are in bad condition, which makes it difficult for the residents to have easy access to social services. This condition poses many challenges to priests administering in these localities. The vehicles break down a lot, and with no immediate roadside assistance, priests have to invest in stronger men to help them “push” the cars to jump start it, and if the mechanical issues persist, then they have no choice but to cancel the program for the day. Alternatively, they take canoes or banana boats and go by sea for their activities.
Fr. Bernard says that priests need to have basic knowledge of dispensing medicine and how to do midwifery as the nearest hospital from the parish is about 2 hours’ drive. In cases where somebody falls sick or needs to be rushed to the hospital for emergency or delivery, the priests are easily the first point of contact, and they have to take the burden of facilitating the transport to the hospital.
The residents survive on small subsistence farming and fishing meant for home consumption. To this extent, they cannot actively manage to run the parish by their contributions, and they look to the priest to provide most of the recourses, which is taxing.
To this effect, Fr. Bernard started a project of a local bakery with a group of mothers, to sell bread and help offset the financial needs of the parish. Through the proceeds from the bakery and financial support from the bishop, he managed to renovate the rectory. The bakery project in itself was a blessing in disguise because of its initial success, and many neighbouring communities adapted the noble idea. They now have four bakeries running so far. What a blessing.
The church building was in terrible shape. It was constructed by the timbers which are worrisome as it can cave in on the parishioners in the near future. With help from friends around the town, he managed to get funds to build the chapel that will be blessed and opened to the parishioners soon.
Fr Bernard started another viable project of selling petrol to serve the need of the community who use small engine boats for their activities but had to close it down after about six months after the property was vandalized and the monies were stolen. That was a significant setback on the parish financial budget that heavily dependent on it.
RECURRING MAJOR CHALLENGE
The current challenge that Fr. Bernard is facing to cater for the sustenance of the parish operation. He is working around the clock to come up with long term means of Parish sustainability projects to finance the annual parish budget.
With his proven track record of five (5) years and seeing the need of the people around the parish who have limited access to store good, Fr. Bernard has a clear solution path for that lack. He is committed to looking for funds to help offset this essential financial backlog that stands between him and more development in his parish.
He is planning to set up a small trade store to supply home consumption goods to the residents. The proceeds will take care of the daily Parish operations, like buying hosts and wine for the church and taking care of transport.
Dear brothers and sisters of “MAMA” Family, dear friends and visitors to the Websites of the Religious Missionary Institute of the Apostles of Jesus!
Fraternal greetings and kind regards to you all in this most challenging time of COVID – 19 pandemics that has brought normality to a standstill and indeed every person, nation and continent on the knees indiscriminately. For the purpose of clarification of our readers, we use the acronym “MAMA” to refer to MAzzoldi-MArengoni. This is a family coinage that we use here in Europe to refer to us the children and members of the beloved Institutes co-founded by Bishop Sisto Mazzoldi and Rev. Fr. John Marengoni of happy Memory.
It is almost a month after the celebration of the Founders´ Day (27.07.2020). In this small write-up, we would like to share with you some of the remarkable insights from the celebration in the Germany Sub-Delegation, which was planned both by Apostles of Jesus and Evangelizing Sisters of Mary in Bonn Bad Godesberg, in the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany.
As the Maxim goes “A good feast or a celebration begins in the Church and ends in the Kitchen”, the celebration started with a lively Holy Mass within a closed church. Nine members of the Apostles of Jesus and four Evangelizing Sisters of Mary formed the Choir. Moved by the spirit of the Co-founders and most importantly their unforgettable memories (Patrimony) that are part and parcel of what make us, the Choir sang beautiful Swahili and English songs with nostalgia of African melodies as if it had a full month´s preparation. “Pater Charles, die Heilige Messe war wirklich schön. Es ist eine Stunde halb lang gedauert, doch alles war lebendig. Diese Lebendigkeit fehlt in unserer deutschen Liturgie” (Fr. Charles, the Holy Mass was very nice. It took one and half hours long! But all in all it was very lively. This liveliness misses in our German liturgy), said our sacristan as a summary of this spiritual celebration.
“No guilt is more urgent than to say thank you!” (Marcus Tullios Cicero). This was the kern of our pushed-desire to mark the “MAMA” Day, to give them the due gratitude they deserve for because of them we are. Our Co-founders are dead but their death is the door – the hope of our being. Their memories of words and deeds are our future and we are their legacies, which legacies are the reasons they remain our living dead.
After the spiritual nourishment, members embarked on bodily nourishment. From cooked dishes and Barbecue there was exceptional moments of sharing punctuated with Press-up, football and spiritual dance to balance the delicious meals and testing of our physical fitness.
The day was successfully commemorated and being the first of its kind in the Germany Sub-delegation, members resolved that this celebration becomes indeed our tradition and use the occasion to make “MAMA” Family known in a society that people always associate missionaries with Franciscans, Don Bosco, and Benedictines….
Below we give you some pictorial captures of the event. We wish you God´s choicest blessings and protection in all your apostolate. Stay safe and healthy!
Apostles of Jesus Aids Ministries (AJAM) is a faith-community based organization established by the Religious Missionary Institute of the Apostles of Jesus in 2000. This was/is a pastoral response to the challenges posed by the increasing concerns of HIV and Aids and their related issues.
The program is focused on but not limited to the prevention of HIV/AIDS, Counseling and treatment, outreach clinic services, youth education, women empowerment, capacity building and advocacy and poverty reduction.
Since its inception, AJAM has focused on the marginalized communities, particularly the Maasai community in Kajiado County, Kenya. During this COVID-19 pandemic the community has been badly affected. Because of lockdown, there is a huge challenge of food supply and cases of early pregnancy have increased.
This particular video was taken during AJAM’s outreach program on August 12, 2020, to Embolei village in Kajiado County. Our program of that day comprised of sensitizing the community on COVID -19 pandemic issues and food distribution.
We had groups of women, young girls, and boys. The highlights were on the early pregnancies since schools are closed the parents have had challenges to protect the girls.
Please click here for more information about AJAM.