Mexico City, February 2019
Dear Friends, peace,
So much has happened since my last letter in November. The construction in Africa is more than halfway through. The School of the Faith has begun functioning in Zambia and Malawi in southern Africa. We had a very successful benefit dinner for the Full Time Catechists in Guatemala and we did the financial planning for 2019 for the Full Time Catechists in El Salvador. And of course, we’ve been serving thousands of hot meals to the migrants from Central America stuck in Mexico. You can see pictures of this in the picture report enclosed.
I wanted to talk to you about the lack of priests and other trained pastoral workers, and what we are doing about it as a foundation. The Catholic Church is one of the biggest contributors to education, healthcare and social promotion in the world. And that is apart from the Church’s main function, which is bringing salvation to all people. But the Church faces a major challenge in many African and Latin American countries: a severe lack of trained personnel. Not just priests: missionaries, trained lay people, teachers. I know of a parish in El Salvador where Father Isaí has to walk two hours just to get from one side of his parish to the other. I think of Bishop Martin in Karonga, Malawi, who tells me of his adventures getting to different parishes in his diocese: a day on horseback, another in a boat, another walking. He sleeps wherever someone is nice enough to share a roof.
There are many similar, inspiring stories. But it is a sorry fact that these missionaries can only spend very limited amounts of time with their faithful. What happens in the meantime? Materialism creeps in. Little “scam” churches pop up to trick well-meaning people out of their money. And in Africa, Muslim “missionaries” arrive with pockets full of cash to pry people away.
This is why we have been supporting projects to train lay missionaries – like the Full Time Catechists and the people who attend the School of the Faith – to be present in their communities when their pastors cannot. To teach, to help, and to coordinate. People like the Full Time Catechist Manuel in Torola, El Salvador, who constantly visits the 27 villages in his parish and has brought the baptism rate from 10% to 90% in two years. Or people like Ignatius Mvulu in Malawi, a lay missionary who is responsible for four schools for adults in his diocese.
Please keep helping us make this possible! Keep us in your prayers, tell other people about us and, if your means allow it, make a donation. I am praying for you and your family: thank you for your prayers.