From 1220 when St. Anthony set out to become a missionary in Morocco until 1852 when the first Conventual Friars came to the United States, the desire to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in new lands has been a hallmark of Franciscan life. This zeal for sharing the love and mercy of our Lord continues today in the Our Lady of the Angels Province.
Whether it is in Latin American countries like Costa Rica, Brazil, or Honduras, African countries like Ghana, Kenya, or Zambia, Asian countries like Japan and the Philippines, or Former Soviet countries like Russia and Romania, the Our Lady of the Angels Province has a long history of supporting missionary work.
In 2012, for example, with the help of contributions from our Companions of St. Anthony, the Friars were able to send $25,000 to our Friars in India for help in constructing a staff house for their HIV/AIDS center. Named Assisi Snehalaya, meaning “Assisi Home of Love” in Hindi, the center provides care and support for the most vulnerable members of society, especially orphaned children. Located in Coimbatore, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India, Assisi Snehalaya can accommodate 100 patients. Working with medical staff of Coimbatore Medical College, the friars and staff of Assisi Snehalaya provide the best medical and spiritual care possible.
When Assisi Snehalaya began, the friars and staff worked out of an old barn! The goal of the first phase of its construction was to provide shelter and care for the HIV/AIDS patients in the area. As the program developed, however, it became clear that a growing staff of medical professionals and volunteers could not continue to operate out of such a crude facility. A new staff house was designed and a campaign to raise money was begun. At that time our Province pledged $25,000 toward the completion of the new staff house. Today, thanks to many friends around the world, including our dear Companions of St. Anthony, the building is complete!
In 2013, your contributions helped construct a center for children in Tulcan, Ecuador. Called Noah’s Ark, the Center for Integral Development, this ministry helps educate and care for the poor and disabled children of the town. With the help of our Companions, the OLA Province was able to contribute $37,500 toward the completion of this project!
In 2014, the Our Lady of the Angels Province helped the Province of Spain in its St. Francis Custody in Columbia. As part of the Americas Project, an initiative that partners Provinces in the United States with Provinces in Latin America, this grant was for $25,000. God has blessed the Custody of St. Francis with many young men interested in becoming Franciscan Friars, yet feeding and housing them is often a challenge. With the support of our Companions, we were able to help the Franciscan community there grow by repairing damaged plumbing at the Custody’s seminary in Medellin and by providing food for the postulants and novices at their house of formation in Itagui. Most recently, the Friars in Columbia took on a new ministry of building a culture of peace in Cali and Medellin, areas still scarred by para-military and drug violence. With your help, the Friars stand with the poor and most vulnerable, building programs to help the poor and encouraging dialogue and healing among those who have suffered the most from violence and forced displacement.
This year, we would like to help support the Friars’ mission work in Uganda. The Friars have many ministries in Uganda. As sharing the Gospel and building the Church are the primary tasks of the Friars, constructing churches and schools is a priority for the Friars in Uganda. In Matugga, the Friars have been constructing a new church to serve the 700 people who worship there. At this time the Friars still need to raise $23,000 to install the 90 windows needed in the church. Besides serving a parish community of 700 people in Matugga, the Friars serve 8 churches in the rural areas surrounding the town.
Another ministry of the Friars in Uganda is education. At the St. Anthony of Padua and St. Charles Lwanga School, the Friars educate 400 children, 50 of whom have their financial expenses subsidized by the Friars. This year, it will cost $150 per child to cover the expense of books, materials, and lunch, for a total of $7,500. Without the financial help of the Friars, these children would not receive an education.
Fr. Edward Wambua from the St. Francis of Assisi parish in Matugga, Uganda is currently our guest in the United States preaching mission appeals to raise funds for this work. To contribute directly to the Friars in Uganda, please send your donation to the Companions of St. Anthony office care of the Franciscan Mission Association. You can also give online at www.companionsofstanthony.org. In the comments section please note that your gift is for Uganda! †
Articles from this edition: