Roman Catholic 
Diocese of Ogdensburg

Past Mission Columns

Mission Column May 17, 2024

Refreshed in the Spirit 

This week we have a Pentecost reflection from Mark Poletunow, the VP of Regions for the United States’ national office of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  Please remember “The Society for the Propagation of the Faith” when writing or changing your Will. 

After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, everything was new for the believers. The only guidebook they had was the experience of walking with Jesus, listening to his words, and trying to imitate his ways. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, came to the rescue! 

Even in the worst or circumstances, the Spirt made known the presence of God. They were not alone. They realized that there was something much greater than themselves alive and active in their midst. Instead of fear, they were fortified to persevere in making Jesus Christ known to the ends of the earth. 

As we approach the great solemnity of Pentecost, we lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us in mission. Sometimes we don't know the way.  Sometimes we don't see clearly the next step. Keeping our eyes on the Cross and submitting to the direction of the Holy Spirit changes everything. We are merely instruments; disciples trusting that in loving Jesus and desiring the Holy Spirit, God will show us the way. 

We pray for this gift for missionaries, for ourselves, [and] for all who engage in the process of evangelization. It was the Spirit of God that inspired Blessed Pauline Jaricot to gather young factory workers to pray for and to make a simple donation on behalf of the missions. Throughout her life, her cross was heavy, but she persevered. She had no idea that her modest efforts, in obedience to the Holy Spirit would create a movement that would be embraced by the Church universal. 

As we also [follow] the annual celebration of Mother's Day, we give thanks to God for the love of our mothers living and deceased. It isn't an easy job. Love is sacrifice. At the same time, I stand in awe of how powerfully God's Holy Spirit leads and directs mothers, all women of good will, to cooperate with God's will in saying "yes" to life, in educating the young, in giving example of how to live as channels of God's love, grace, and mercy in the world. I thank God not only for my wonderful mother who is now with the Lord, but also for the many women who have helped to form me, who have been examples of discipleship, who have sacrificed so that others might have life to the full. 

Your brother in mission, 

Mark J. Poletunow, VP of Regions

Mission Column May 10, 2024

Basilica Dedicated to Blessed Pauline Jericot; Pontifical Missions Founder

Father Tadeusz Nowak, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith (POPF), describes as a "historic moment" the inauguration of the chapel of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Romania, Bucharest. 

This is the first place of worship in Romania named after Blessed Pauline Jaricot, foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The inauguration ceremony took place after a mass in the parish church near the headquarters of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Romania, presided over by the Archbishop of Bucharest, Aurel Perca… 

At the beginning of the mass, the Archbishop of Bucharest blessed the image of Blessed Pauline Jaricot, painted by the artist Lalo Garcia, which was then placed in the central altar of the chapel. The artist personally brought the painting to Romania and declared himself "privileged to have been chosen to paint the image of Blessed Pauline". In the painting, Pauline is holding a rosary in her hands, which is a replica of a wooden rosary that the artist carried with him throughout the creation of the work and which he presented to Father Eugen Blaj at the end of the mass as a gift for the Pontifical Mission Societies in Romania. 

In his homily, Father Nowak spoke about the life of Pauline Jaricot and her charism. Father Tadeusz recalled that the Church is missionary by nature and lives to evangelize, emphasizing that "we are all called to mission." 

…Father Nowak spoke of the means that Pauline Jaricot mentioned as contributing to the missionary apostolate: prayer…and knowledge of missionaries' needs and support of the Church's missions. "Pauline died poor in material goods but rich in spiritual goods," explained the priest at the end of the homily, "this was recognized by the Church after two hundred years and she was declared beatified. Let us thank God for the charism he gave to Blessed Pauline Jaricot and that she left to the Church, and let us pray that the hearts of all Christians will become more eager and open to share the Good News with others and to participate in the mission of the Church, bearing witness to the mystery of the Risen Christ ".

…"We thank God for this great gift of having Blessed Pauline among us as we dedicate the first chapel in Romania in her honor. We pray to Blessed Pauline that through her service and courage she will inspire us to live our lives in Christ, and that the celebration of her holiness serves for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls," says a statement from the Pontifical Mission Societies.  Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.   

Mission Column May 3, 2024

Flood Disaster 

At least 188 people have died in the floods that have hit various areas of Kenya since March, according to official figures presented by the government in Nairobi. Another 125 people were injured, 90 are missing, and more than 165,000 people were left homeless. The death toll continued to rise on April 29 following the collapse of the old Kijabe Dam in Mai Mahiu, killing 45 people. 

The floods have so far submerged at least 27,000 hectares of farmland and 4,800 farm animals have died in the floods. The Kenya Red Cross has set up 59 camps to accommodate flood victims. The disaster also hit the education system hard: over 100 schools were severely damaged or completely destroyed. 

Vice President of the Kenya Bishops' Conference and Archbishop of Nyeri, Anthony Muheria, expressed the church's closeness in Kenya with the flood-affected people who are suffering the "pain of loss" of their loved ones and their livelihoods. "Unfortunately, lives have been lost and many people are affected. Their houses, property and crops for those who had planted them have been swept away; even cows and goats have been swept away", Archbishop Muheria said in a message in Swahili released on April 28. 

The Archbishop called for solidarity and help for the victims of this tremendous tragedy: “… We are the good Samaritan, who meets the afflicted man on the side of the road", said the Archbishop of Nyeri. Archbishop Muheria's call was taken up by the Kenyan Catholic Church. "Next Sunday a collection will be held in all churches in the country [Kenya] for those affected by the floods," said Msgr. Charles Ndung'u, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Nyeri, to Fides. 

Help that is all the more necessary as "the rains continue and the population affected by the floods lives in fear and terror," adds the Vicar General. At yesterday's general audience, May 1, Pope Francis recalled the suffering of the Kenyan populations affected by the floods: "I also wish to express to the people of Kenya my spiritual closeness at this time as severe flooding has tragically taken the lives of many of our brothers and sisters, injured others and caused widespread destruction. I invite you to pray for all those affected by this natural disaster. Even amidst adversity, we remember the joy of the risen Christ, and I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you!".  Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  

Mission Column April 26, 2024

100th Anniversary in Lanniquing 

China is a very diverse nation containing many different ethnic groups.  Different ethnic groups live in different regions, have different cultural traditions, languages, and writing systems.  The largest ethnic group (estimated to be approximately 91% of the Chinese population) is the Han ethnic group.    

More than 500 Catholics, most of whom belong to ethnic minorities in Yunnan province (southwest China), celebrated the 100th anniversary of the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lanniqing [on April 17], whose members are mainly from the Yi ethnic group. Catholics from various ethnic groups (Han, Miao, Jingpo, Yi and Tibetans) took part in the celebrations held last week. The parish's centenary also provided the opportunity to publicly express the gratitude of the entire community to the French missionary of the “Missions Etrangères de Paris” (MEP), Father Paul Vial (1855-1917). 

The southwestern Chinese provinces where the missionaries of the Missions Etrangères de Paris worked are characterized by a strong presence of ethnic minorities who have their own languages and forms of writing. Father Vial, known in China by his Chinese name Deng Mingde, was one of the first MEP missionaries to serve in Yunnan and dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel in the region populated by the Yi ethnic group. After his ordination in 1879, he traveled to Yunnan and was the first foreigner to carry out studies on the Yi ethnic group. For these scientific contributions he also received academic titles in France. 

The first small church in Lanniquing was built in 1893 on the initiative of Father Vial, but the church soon became inadequate to meet the pastoral needs of the local community. Finally, the church was rebuilt in 1924 at the initiative of Father Bi Jingxing, the first priest of the Atsi (a Yi subgroup). 

Today, one hundred years later, the Atsi community has eight local priests. Over the past 100 years, the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lanniqing has been tested by several strokes of fate. The local Catholic community has always entrusted itself to the grace of God and the intercession of Mary Immaculate, asking that the Church continue to bear witness to the name of Christ among the local people, also through works of charity. 

The community has actively participated in charitable initiatives and has also raised funds to support projects for populations affected by natural disasters. Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  

Mission Column April 19, 2024

Christians and Muslims in Malaysia 

In Miri, a Malaysian city in the province of Sarawak (in Malaysian Borneo), less than 100 meters away are the "Masjid An Naim" mosque and the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd. There is mutual hospitality between the communities. On Fridays, the church opens its gate to allow Muslims to park their vehicles during prayer time, while on Sundays, the mosque does the same. Christian faithful of the church and the Muslim faithful of the mosque come together on special occasions for each other's religious holidays. […] 

As Fides learned, the religious communities of Miri today share spaces, facilities, events "and for them it is so natural that it is part of their daily way of life", explained the Archbishop of Kuching, Simon Poh Hoon Seng, noting that the people of Sarawak "show that they are truly a big family, not in slogans but in everyday life". […]  

It should not be forgotten, he continued, that "racial and religious intolerance continues to manifest itself from time to time in the country, with acts of hostility that create tensions and divisions within society," but precisely because of this, he noted, "there is a need for greater understanding and respect for the diversity that exists in our country and, to work for harmony". […] 

The Archbishop also presented the Message of the Vatican Dicastery for interreligious dialogue for the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, entitled "Christians and Muslims: extinguish the fire of war and light the candle of peace", inviting us to "look together at the Almighty as the God of peace, the source of peace, who loves all those who dedicate their lives to the service of peace in a special way". Monsignor Simon Poh said that faith in Christ is concretely expressed by loving God and being at the service to one's neighbor, contributing to the "common good" of society, wishing "brothers and sisters of other faiths peace, joy and hope, sharing in the work of making our nation and our world a better place for all". 

A large "interreligious Iftar" was also organized by the Muslim Council of Elders in Kuala Lumpur, with the participation of numerous Christian leaders, including Msgr. Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur. Numerous Muslim personalities emphasized the importance of interreligious dialogue in the creation of peace and asked the faithful to make an effort to get to know people of other religions. The Christian faithful present appreciated the opportunity to come together with people from different backgrounds, emphasizing the importance of promoting understanding and cooperation between different faith communities. The Muslim Council of Elders stressed the vital importance of supporting peace and mutual acceptance within Malaysian society. In a world troubled by wars and discord, the end-of-Ramadan celebration "represents a poignant reminder of our common humanity, illustrating the profound capacity for unity and compassion among all individuals and peoples," the Council said.  Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  

Mission Column April 5, 2024

"Living Stones" of the Cambodian Church

     ​Adult baptisms are a blessing for the Cambodian Church and represent a sign of hope for the small Catholic community of about 20,000 people in a nation of 17 million inhabitants. At the Easter Vigil on March 30, 185 catechumens of the Apostolic Vicariate of Phnom Penh will receive Baptism, along with the other sacraments of "Christian initiation" (Confirmation and Eucharist). As reported by Bishop Olivier Schmitthaeusler, Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh, the catechumens come from a dozen districts in the territory of Phnom Penh and have completed an itinerary of knowledge, deepening and discernment about the Christian faith. 

     The fact that they are young adults is an added value for the community, said Schmitthaeusler, addressing the future baptized in one of the preparation meetings held during the Lenten season. The bishop highlighted three essential aspects to be "a Christian in everyday life": pray, love and serve. 

     Bishop Schmitthaeusler invited young people to "pray like Jesus, both in difficulties and in joy" and to "pray like Mary". It is important - he continued - to always keep the relationship with God and with the community alive, also by putting ourselves at service of pastoral needs, with the spirit of being "loving servants" of the community. The image that the Bishop proposed to the young catechumens was taken from the letters of Saint Paul, describing them as "living stones" of the Church "by living in our community with a spirit of compassion, in prayer and service,” he said. 

     During the "election" rite, the Apostolic Vicar of Phnom Penh called each of the candidates by name before the altar, inviting them to register their names in the diocesan registry, laying his hand on them. During the rite, all candidates also received a purple scarf, as a sign of their preparation for baptism, which they must wear every time they go to church. 

     In 2023, the Cambodian Church baptized a total of 397 young people during the Easter Vigil (167 in Battambang Apostolic Prefecture, 126 in Kampong Cham Prefecture, 104 adults in Phnom Penh). The constant presence of young and adult catechumens, the Vicar said in conclusion, is a sign that "the work of God bears fruit in the Cambodian Church, which is alive and growing".  Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  

Mission Column March 29, 2024

Towards Easter, With Faith and Charity

     … "Although Easter is not a national holiday in Bangladesh, a largely Islamic nation, offices and shops usually remain open. However, Christians have a special dispensation and can celebrate the holiday without having to go to work. This year "thanks to favorable weather conditions and a more stable political situation after the elections, the situation seems calm. We are preparing to celebrate Easter with serenity and under the grace of God," said to Fides Father Robert Hadima, priest of the diocese of Mymensingh.

     "During the rites of Holy Week, the churches are full of faithful he adds. People come to confess to receive God's mercy and embrace new life in Christ. In addition, interreligious participation is observed, with Muslim believers who, out of courtesy and spiritual closeness, attend the liturgy to celebrate the holiday and share greetings," says the priest. 

     There are many initiatives of testimony and evangelization: "For example, in Mymensingh," he reports, "after the Easter Vigil, young people walk the streets singing hymns and songs, along with the Easter hallelujah. Furthermore, in the villages, on Easter Day, families gather in large groups where they share the Easter meal and the joy of the resurrection". 

     This occurs, he explains, after having experienced a period of Lent marked by prayer and solidarity. Prodip Palma, a teacher at a school in Dhaka, testifies: "Lent is a special time, I have experienced a journey of conversion", he says. Together with his wife and three children, he participated in the Station of the Cross every Friday in the Catholic church of Tejgaon, inspiring his family to live fasting as a way of getting closer to Christ and his brothers. James Gomes, an NGO employee in the Diocese of Rajshahi, has been saving for more than a month to help a student in need. He says: "Every year during Lent, my wife and I give up eating meat and fish, and donate the money we would have spent to a poor student so that he can pay his exam fees." 

     Arpona Rozario, a 55-year-old seamstress and mother of three, offers discounts to her clients, even non-Christians, as a symbolic gesture "in honor of Jesus Christ". Through her work, Arpona seeks to spread the message of love and sacrifice of Jesus. 

     These testimonies have emerged from a Lenten gathering of Bangladeshi faithful who, in order to prepare spiritually for Easter, gathered in recent days in Gazipur, under the leadership of Archbishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze, OMI. The archbishop has exhorted the faithful to continue using the "weapons" of the Christian, that is, fasting, prayer and charity, "to love God and neighbor", preparing their hearts "to welcome Jesus Christ who gives new life to each one through resurrection"…  Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  

Mission Column March 22, 2024

Conflict Continues in Sudan

Hunger, floods, drought and growing insecurity, a weak economy on the verge of collapse. These are the factors that bring great suffering to the people of South Sudan, says Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura Yambio.

“Our people continue to suffer the effects of complex emergencies which are still being experienced in many parts of the country, including those parts that had previously been peaceful,” Bishop Kussala said in a statement. “As a result, the number of internally displaced persons who are living in deplorable conditions, and are starving has increased tremendously across the country, with the most affected being women, children, the aged, and people living with disabilities,” said Bishop Kussala. 

“Those still living in their homesteads are equally facing starvation since most of them have had to, ironically, abandon their sources of livelihood in a bid to save their lives. Most school-going children have had to drop out of school because of insecurity and fear of being forcefully recruited to serve as soldiers in the conflicts”, continued Bishop Kussala. 

“It is no longer about the country and its leadership, but about the people of South Sudan who are slowly perishing. Unless cushioned from these calamities, we are afraid that our people will not survive especially because the majority of the population (64%) are helpless youths who have no source of income, while most of the remaining 36% are elderly persons. The situation is dire and therefore in need of urgent intervention" he concludes. 

In its latest report, released on March 1, the UN Human Rights Commission for South Sudan notes that violence and persistent impunity continue to impact the lives of an extremely vulnerable population and warns that the already dire humanitarian situation in the country is worsening. 

The elections scheduled for December, the first since Sudan's independence in 2011, are expected to be a milestone in efforts to achieve lasting peace after the end of the civil war that has erupted since 2013 and has killed an estimated 400,000 people. A peace agreement was reached in 2018, but implementation has been slow and violence continues in some parts of the country.  Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  

Mission Column March 15, 2024

“We must remain on the side of the people”

The country is in ruins, the entire region is isolated since gangs control access to the capital, so that people and goods can only enter the country through complicated air bridges or at the risk of loss of life and property.

"This means that even medicines and essential goods, food that does not come directly from one's own fields cannot be delivered, and those that are delivered are always more expensive. The sick cannot be treated or even reach more equipped hospitals, in other areas of the country, not only in the capital, which means there is a lack of milk for children and food", complains Maddalena Boschetti, a consecrated Camillian who is a "Fidei donum" missionary for the Diocese of Genoa. 

"Across Haiti, not just in the capital," continues Maddalena, who cares for disabled and sick children and their families in northwest Haiti, "insecurity and gang violence kill. It's not just the violence on the streets of Port- au-Prince and in the big cities, but also by depriving those who no longer have the means of life and are struggling to survive in the poorest areas of the province. The hospital has no space, there are few and essential medicines, palliative care [quality of life care for those with serious a illness] does not exist. There is only pain. There is no possibility of doing a histological examination [tissue examination] or a mammogram; x-rays are of very poor quality." 

"This is a glimpse of life today in Haiti[…] That is why the presence of the Church and the missionary Church in this country, as in all other countries where there is war, is so important," concludes the missionary. 

“We must remain on the side of the people and continue to witness with our lives in the service of God and man that the people of Haiti, a people of martyrs, are not alone. We must put ourselves at the service of those most in need, not to abandon them, to tell them that their lives have value”.  Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.  

Mission Column February 23, 2024

Many Thanks

The Lenity Project is one of the organizations supported by our summer Missionary Cooperative Appeal.  Please read below to see how your generous donations have helped them serve the poor in Ecuador.  

Dear Friends, 

Thank You so much for your gifts for our Missionary Coop collections this summer.  Missions count on your help. 

I hope that 2024 is starting off well for you.  Maybe you made some New Years Resolutions.  …How is that going?  Hopefully you are keeping at it or at least you remember what they were!!!  One of my resolutions was to try and reach out to friends like you who were so generous to our mission.  We do have our Family Foundation with the same vision and mission that Padre John Halligan had in the original Center.  Father Halligan died last year but his work continues in the new foundation which we have been running since 2017. 

You may have seen on the nightly news lately reports of the chaos and violence going on in Ecuador.  The Drug Cartels have taken control of the country at many levels.  They have politicians, doctors, lawyers, prison guards, police etc. on their payroll. The new president of the country is trying to take the reins away from them, but it is very difficult of course.  Ecuador went from the most pacific country in S. America to the most violent.  People are fleeing the country in droves.  The cartel thugs come around and threaten the small businesses to pay a “protection fee” or be burned out.  Shootings and kidnappings are rampant. It breaks my heart to see and hear about so many living in fear. 

Madre Miguel remains committed to our mission with Carlos, Marco and Giuliana at the helm.  I am on the team as the fundraiser, but it is hard not being down there with them. We all continue to keep the padre’s vision and mission alive.  I, from upstate NY, as I care for my folks who are 94. 

Our team realizes that we need to expand our services and to look for a piece of property where we could build a more adequate facility to have the programs to help these families get the education and skills, they need to be able to take charge of their lives and help each other.  We are convinced that God will continue to bless our efforts and you for your help. 

Thank you again for your love and support!  Continued Blessings for 2024!  

Hugs, Sr. Cindy 

Mission Column February 16, 2024

Lenten Appeal

This Lenten season, will you give the gift of freedom to a suffering person? Through your donation you can give both the gift of true spiritual and physical freedom in Christ.  Your support helps missionaries proclaim the Gospel, build churches, and support mission priests, religious Sisters and Brothers, and lay pastoral leaders all over the world, as well as provide food, education, and medical care to suffering people. 

I wanted to share a story with you today that’s such a powerful example of the kind of work you make possible through your support!  

There’s been a lot of transformation since in Cambodia in the past 50 years.  The Khmer Rouge era (1975-1979) saw Pol Pot’s brutal regime unleash devastating violence on the population.  Even after the communist dictatorship was toppled, impoverished Cambodians were left with deep emotional scars along with millions of landmines that dot the lush landscape.

It was against this backdrop that the Jesuits opened a mission in Cambodia in 1985, headed by Jesuit Bishop Enrique “Quique” Figaredo – affectionately dubbed “the Bishop of the Wheelchairs”.  They almost immediately began bringing wheelchairs to more than 30,000 disabled people across the countryside. 

Today the wheelchair project employs 18 people -- all of whom are amputees due to landmine injuries.  They build an average of 100 chairs a week, selling a third of them to large organizations so they can give the rest to people unable to cover the production costs (about $150).  What a glorious example of faith in action! 

“One person once told me that the wheelchair we give is a sacrament, because it transforms people's lives,” the Bishop said. “It is a visible sign of a visible relationship.” 

You and I are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of the heart as we seek to follow Christ's will more faithfully.  We know that people left maimed and disabled by war are close to God’s heart, and your contribution today will help bring them comfort, support, and the gospel. Your generosity brings the love of Christ to suffering people in Cambodia and beyond. 

Together in Mission,

Mission Column February 9, 2024

Lent and the Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year, also often referred to as Chinese New Year, is a holiday celebrated by many Southeast Asian countries. The date of this holiday is determined by the lunar calendar. This year it is celebrated on February 10, ushering in the Year of the Dragon.

This year again, as happens from time to time, the beginning of Lent coincides with the festive days of the Chinese New Year. A coincidence linked to the fact that the two events are fixed in time according to the lunar calendar.

At first glance, the two events seem contradictory: Lent is a time of fasting, abstinence and penance, while New Year is a time of joyful celebration. In his Pastoral Letter for Lent 2024, Bishop Joseph Gan Junqiu, head of the Archdiocese of Guangzhou, shows how the Christian vision can dissolve this apparent contradiction. “In reality,” writes the Chinese Bishop, “all actions motivated by the intention to love are ultimately directed toward God. Thus, “as we leave the solitude of urban life behind us, we put an end to the distance which separates us from our loved ones and we return home, where the joy of being with family reigns. At the same time, we can live the Liturgy of Ashes recognizing that it is also a call from the Eternal Father to us, a call to return home.

"In his Pastoral Letter for Lent 2024 entitled "O God, create in me a pure heart" (Ps 51, 10), Bishop Joseph shows "how we, Christians, can immerse ourselves in the love and forgiveness of God in this family holiday period. The New Year, underlines the Bishop of Guangzhou, is a “farewell to the past to welcome the future”. In the Christian journey, in the same way, the experience of forgiveness and repentance for one's sins is also a "farewell to the past" and a confident march towards the time to come.

In such an experience, “we become full of joy and hope for life, we are made new by the love of Christ, in the grace of God.” Lent is “the time of preparation for the joy of Easter.” And precisely, the time of the Chinese New Year, underlines Mgr Gan, is a golden opportunity to bear witness to the Catholic faith to and with one's family. One can attend "the New Year's Eve Thanksgiving Mass with our families, where the whole family can come together to thank God for His protection and blessings during the past year, and to ask God's blessing for peace and the health of our family members and our work. By praying and receiving the sacraments with our loved ones, we can also embrace, in gratitude to Jesus, the festive and grateful mood of the Chinese New Year." Thus, "we not only cherish the uniqueness of the Catholic faith while remaining fully immersed in our traditional culture, but we can show that the Christian faith is a gift that always remains in our hearts, no matter what.” […] Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Mission Column February 2, 2024

For many of us, glasses and contacts are a part of our everyday life. One that, perhaps, we often take for granted. It’s easy to forget that in many parts of the world these and other medical aids are not readily available. Missionaries in the Gaya and Dosso regions of Niger, Africa are working to change that, providing healthcare and awareness for visually impaired and blind children.

"There are more and more, almost a hundred in Gaya and Dosso, with ever better prospects for their education and ophthalmological care," writes Father Rafael Casamayor, who works as a missionary in Dosso, about the situation of children with visual impairment in the communities in which he works.

"A house has been purchased in Gaya and is already in use, another is being set up in Dosso and we plan to open it soon to be able to prepare a good training program during the summer", explained the religious of the Society of African Missions.

Kaaryan ma dumi is the new organization dedicated to children and young people with visual impairment from the communities of Dosso and Gaia, which means 'May the light always shine'. Created from the union of the two associations Zankey Handuriya in Dosso and CIES in Gaya, both of which care for visually impaired children, the organizers want to combine their efforts and thus improve the care of these children.

"Light to live, grow, love and prepare for the future," added Dieudonné, who cares for these children in Gaya. "The two charities have the same goals and these children light up as soon as they experience interest, affection and respect for their situation," he emphasized. The two associations work on the social integration of these children who are seen as a burden or even a curse by their families and society in general.

"To achieve today's result, it was necessary to have several years of experience and a lot of educational work, human support and social inclusion of children, as well as a long and complicated training process. The results achieved so far are positive if one takes into account the change in mentality that has occurred among some parents, in the society and among the children themselves," he emphasized. "A few days ago we were invited to a meeting on the Nigerien education system to form a working group on education in the Dosso region," said Dieudonné. "We were able to see for ourselves the seriousness of the education problem, which is often ignored by large non-governmental organizations and also by the Ministry of Education itself."[…] They also organize a training course called "Parent's Guide" to help parents recognize the different opportunities their children have to improve themselves and achieve new goals. The aim is to help parents to know and demand the rights of their children in society and to be aware of these rights. Article from FIDES missionary news service of the Pontifical Mission Societies.

Please remember “The Society for the Propagation of the Faith” when writing or changing your Will. 

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