Previously, I served in the Philippines for about 25 years. I learned about the people, local cultures and churches there. But I also realized the importance of peoples and churches around Asia and around the world.
Assigned here in Cincinnati since 2007, I always volunteer to do mission appeals on weekends, as needed. It is a way to help raise missionary awareness in parishes, to ask people to pray for our missionaries around the world and to encourage them to support the missionary work of the Church. In addition, mission appeals afford the opportunity to visit parishes around the region. Doing these mission appeals provides me a sense of what is happening in the diverse neighborhoods, towns and cities of this archdiocese.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you” is the great missionary command given by Christ. It boldly sets the theme of my homilies under the Missionary Cooperation Plan established by the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference.
This past weekend was a delightful surprise in making mission appeals. I was asked to visit St. Leo’s parish here in Cincinnati for a Sunday morning liturgy. About 125 years old, the church building shows its age and the neighborhood is suffering serious blight. What was once an all-white parish now embraces Latinos and African Americans. The parish pastor handled the Latino Mass on Saturday evening, while on Sunday morning I concelebrated with a priest from Tanzania, Father Daniel, who is studying at Xavier University.
The readings were read in English, in Kirundi (the official language of Burundi) and in Swahili. At the end of Mass we blessed the children who will be starting school soon. For many of the children, it will be their first chance to go to school.
Many refugees from Burundi are settled in the area. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has cooperated with the USCCB in helping to settle refugees from a variety of nations, so they could make a new start here in the United States. In general Catholics of this area have been wonderful in welcoming refugees from genocide and warfare.
It seems to me that there is a major issue in these difficult financial times. Can the archdiocese continue to expand ministries to refugees in the future, as it did in the past in supporting refugees from Vietnam, from ethnic war in the Balkans, and so forth? One thing is clear–the love of God seems to compel us.
Human Wall Religion by Benjamin Haas
Locked Gate by poco_bw