Missioners Serving Abroad:
Alan Lane and Nathalie Imanishimwe -Rwanda
To read more about Alan and Nathalie, you can find more of their story in our newsletters. Look in Spring 2023.
I never guessed I would end up in the villages of Rwanda. But to be in a place where I feel so firmly planted and to find so much meaning in what I do and who I spend time with is a testimony of God's love.
After experiencing war in Iraq, I realized I needed to make some life changes to keep my sanity. Eventually that led me to pick up a camera and my life has never been the same since. After experiencing the Missionaries of the Poor in Kingston, Jamaica and the people they served, I was prompted to search for more opportunities to connect with others. This lead me to apply for Photographers Without Borders which had a project in Rwanda. When I arrived in March 2019, I came across a beautiful country full of people that were incredibly warm, welcoming, kind, joyful and peaceful. I returned to Rwanda to stay in September of 2020.
What started with a few pictures here and there and giving some common greetings to people has evolved into what my interpreter, Claudine, calls 'comforting the community' and what I feel are the Corporal Works of Mercy. We have come to realize it is our responsibility to accompany the people in our community along the journey; to be present, to listen compassionately, to share their experiences as best we can and to join their sufferings to our own. I couldn't be more grateful and feel more blessed. I have much to learn about myself and the people I encounter but I feel as though I am on the right course. I know that the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus will continue to be with me and within me as I continue to try and answer their call.
Aurora Tobar, OSF - Mexico
Aurora is a Franciscan Sister currently serving down in Mexico. She came to know the Franciscan Sisters when they started the Franciscan Missionary Center in San Rafael Parish. She was impressed with the prayerful spirit and generosity of the sisters, especially in how they served the poor. Aurora has been serving down in Mexico since 2008.
To read more about Fr. Bob McCahill, you can find more of his story in our newsletters. Look in Winter 2021.
Fr. Bob McCahill, MMFB - Asia
While Fr. Bob McCahill is not a St. Cloud Diocese native, he has been connected with our office for many years and always makes an effort to stop in when he can! He is a Maryknoll missioner and has been participating in missionary work since 1964. He has been serving in Bangladesh since 1975. Fr. Bob is known for bicycling around the villages in Bangladesh. He spends his time searching for disabled and seriously infirm children. He helps them get the care they need, often traveling with the families to the hospital. With his assistance he has helped children with cerebral palsy, burn contractures, cleft lips and palates, and more. Every few years he moves on to another area, both to help more people, and to keep people from getting suspicious and believing he is only there to convert them to Christianity. In his words, “the best things in life are free” and “service is the best religion.”
He has written a book about his life experiences, which can be purchased at our office.
Fr. Fred Timp, SVD - Ghana
Fr. Fred Timp SVD, is a Freeport, MN native currently serving in Ghana. He has been serving in Ghana as a Divine Words Missioner since 1983, making 2023 his 40th anniversary. He has served in various different roles from being a primary evangelist, to the dean of SVD major seminarians, to the diocese’s secretary and later treasurer. Throughout all his various roles he has made time to serve the poor and sick, helping in whatever ways he can. That might be driving a widow to an isolated village to move in with her son, helping someone with medical bills, or a student with studying. No matter what capacity he is serving in, he has experienced one of the greatest achievements which is lasting relationships with people. While he has been in Ghana for 40+ years now, Fr. Fred plans to stay “as long as the Lord allows [him].”
In 2021 he sat down with Fr. Bill Vos and recorded a podcast for Minnesota Catholic Podcasts talking about his work and reflecting on the 2021 World Mission Sunday Theme: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20)
You can find the podcast here.
To read more about Fr. Gabriel, you can find more of his story in our newsletters. Look in Summer 2020, Winter 2020, and Summer 2023.
Fr. Gabriel Joseph Ssenkindo, OSB - Uganda + Kenya
After High School in 1983, I joined Christ the King Benedictine Monastery, Tororo Uganda. I took first vows in 1989 and was ordained in 1995. Fall of 1997 I joined St. John's University (School of Theology) graduating in 1999. While at St. John's University, I was connected with St. Cloud Mission Office. I returned to Christ the King Benedictine Monastery, Tororo Uganda in February 2000. Since then I have served the community as Novice Master (Director of Formation) in my community and Prince of Peace Abbey in Tigoni Kenya, as well as Associate Pastor of St. Teresa's Parish in Achilet, Archdiocese of Tororo, Chaplain for Tororo Girls High School, and also worked as Administrator of the Benedictine Eye Hospital.
Currently, I'm serving as Novice Master, the onsite director of Benedictine Volunteers Corp, a member of the Board of Directors of the Benedictine Eye Hospital, as well as the visiting pastor to two Benedictine Monasteries. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to do family ministry where we visit and pray with them in their homes.
To read more about Iris and Glahecer, you can find more of their story in our newsletters. Look in Summer 2021, Winter 2022, and Summer 2023.
Iris Prieto and Glahecer Baque - Ecuador
It is estimated that 90% of Latin America’s baptized Catholics have no real church or parish home due to the shortage of priests and church facilities. Parish Neighborhood Renewal Ministry (PNRM) has a solution for this challenge: We take the church to the people in their own neighborhoods.
Parish Neighborhood Renewal Ministry was founded in 1975 by Sister Joan Gerads, a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, Minnesota, and Maryknoll Father Tom Maney. For over 40 years, Sister Joan trained missionaries to create Base Church Communities as a means to bring the Gospel to very poor, remote areas of Latin America. Currently, PNRM primarily works in Ecuador and Venezuela. By identifying leaders and engaging people in their own neighborhoods, PRNM has allowed the development of hundreds of small groups of faith-seekers to grow stronger in their relationship with God and with others.
Glahecer Baque and Iris Prieto de Baque met years ago while they were receiving missionary training from Sister Joan. They fell in love, married, and became part of the evangelization community. They have been working with the Base Church Communities model for over 30 years and are the on-the-ground leadership based in Ecuador.
Isabel Berrones, OSF - Mexico
Aurora is a Franciscan Sister currently serving down in Mexico. She has been serving there since 2009. Isabel heard about the Franciscan Sisters through their life and mission in the parish of San Rafael, Mexico. After meeting them, she felt a strong call from God to join them. She gives thanks to God for their community and her life of ministry.
To read more about Jose and Celida, you can find more of their story in our newsletters. Look in Summer 2023.
Jose and Celida Penate - El Salvador + Honduras
My wife, Célida, and I became foster parents to several young Honduran men while ministering in the juvenile jail in San Francisco, California. On a certain occasion, we were concerned about the mothers of these boys. Then God inspired us to travel to Honduras to meet the families of these young people. During that visit, we were shocked by the extreme poverty in which these families lived. There was a family that impacted us profoundly. They, with a grateful heart, shared with us two things; just a glass of water, because their poverty, and their fervent faith that radiated joy and hope.
Years passed and I felt that God continued to invite us to live and do ministry in Honduras.
On the one hand, the news we received from Honduras about violence at all levels, crime, extortion, kidnapping and political unrest, was terrifying. When we thought of Honduras, in our bodies we could feel the fear. On the other hand, when we pray for Honduras, we experience peace and the joy of being part of the kingdom of God. God's promise that we would not be alone comforted and encouraged us. We set out and moved to Honduras, together with Belén our 7-year-old daughter.
After 8 years of service in Honduras, Célida, Belén and I can categorically assure that God kept his promise. We were never alone. We recently moved to Bakersfield CA. Where we are living a time of transition that we call "Sabbatical". A time to contemplate the wonders that God has done through our humble service. Sabbatical is a precious time where we will focus on prayer and preparation for the next 6-year journey. If God willing!
To read more about Fr. Lawrence, you can find more of his story in our newsletters. Look in Spring 2022, Winter 2022, and Fall 2023.
Fr. Lawrence Otieno, MHM - South Africa + Cameroon
I am Fr. Lawrence Otieno. I am a Mill Hill Missionary from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ngong Kenya. The late Fr. John Kaiser MHM brought me up and inspired me to be a missionary priest through his life of prayer, hard work, and love for the poor.
I am sharing the joy of the gospel with the least brothers and sisters of Christ in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kroonstad, South Africa.
I am doing primary evangelization, that is preaching the word of God and forming communities of faith. Secondly I share in the compassion of Christ with the people of God through visiting the sick, the poor, the prisoners and supporting them with food, clothes and other basic needs. I also care for the environment by planting trees in places where they have been cleared and train the youths and other willing members of the community to plant trees as a way of caring and appreciating the gift of mother earth.
Br. Loren Beaudry, MM - Tanzania
Br. Loren is a Maryknoll Brother currently serving in Mwanza, Tanzania. A lot of his work there includes helping come up with programming for students that have special needs and making sure that their parents and teachers have access to the resources that they need. They have recently been doing seminars with educators and parents to help increase knowledge and understanding of learning disabilities.
Along with this, he has been working with local nonprofit organizations especially regarding street children, children with AIDS, and handicapped adults and youth.
To read more about Br. Loren, you can find more of his story in our newsletters. Look in Winter 2020, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, and Summer 2023.
Sr. Mary Dumonceaux OSF - Mexico + Texas
Sr. Mary is a Franciscan sister currently serving on the Texas border. She has previously served in Mexico. There she assisted with the Casa Franciscana where local girls could come lived while they attended high school.
Sr. Mary Dumonceaux seen in the white scarf.
To read more about Monica, you can find more of her story in our newsletters. Look in Spring 2021 and Fall 2023.
Monica Rudawski - Nicaragua
I am Monica Rudawski and I have lived and worked in Nicaragua since 1999. Our mission work has unfolded through Father Teddy Niehaus, who passed in 2014, and also with Sister Elizabeth Salmon of the Maryknoll Sister. Our work is concentrated in Leon, Esteli and on the East Coast of Nicaragua in La Cruz de Rio Grande and San Pedro del Norte. Together with our supporters we are able to accompany the Nicaraguan people through scholarship programs, housing constructions, small business loans and school lunch programs. In addition we have a variety of projects focused on short term intervention to help lift the burden we sometimes experience in life. These projects are things such as clothing, food, milk for children, medical assistance, and even help to bury a loved one. We are honored to help people get a boost with their own sustainable income through things such as a small convenience shop, a veterinary clinic and a store which sells school supplies as well as supporting projects which teach people skills such as sewing. Every day we encounter the presence of the Holy in one another’s joy and suffering, and we find our way through our humanity together by building our faith in community.
To read more about the Steele family, you can find more of their story in our newsletters. Look in Summer 2021 and Fall 2023.
Peter Steele and family - China
My name is Peter Steele. I’m from Becker, Minnesota. I have been living and working in China since August 2007. I’m married to a local lady here. Her name is Jenny, and we have five kids, 4 boys and one girl, ages ranging from 4 to 11. Having five kids in China makes us feel like minor celebrities.
I originally came to China in 2007 through the Maryknoll Missionaries China Volunteer program led by Fr. Scott Harris M.M. M.D. and their program director Kevin Clancy. I originally came to be a native English-speaking teacher at a university. Since 2012, I have been operating a small English language center where students come on the weekends for small-sized English classes during the Spring and Fall semesters. In addition, we do Summer and Winter camps, of which we’ve taken student groups abroad: Ireland (Winter 2019), Minnesota (Summer 2019), The United Kingdom (Winter 2020) and just a month ago we did a camp in Southwest California in the Los Angeles area, where we did some camping at Joshua Tree National park, and took a road trip up the Pacific Coast highway to San Francisco and got to experience some Redwood trees. These camps produce great opportunities to build bridges between China and the West. When it comes to classes during the regular Fall and Spring semester, I teach English to Kindergarten through 9th grade students. I teach through a sort of didactic or moral approach of teaching, whereby the English-learning is ensconced with the importance of good manners, kindness towards others, and we even dabble several of the Benedictine core values that I gleaned from my time as an undergrad at St. John’s University.
While I conduct classes during the weekends, it’s during the rest of the week of Monday through Thursday, my family and I spend our time at a Hansen’s Disease rehabilitation center (also known as a leprosarium in the old days) that’s located upon a mountain out in the country about an hour from the city. This center was built over a 100 years ago by Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who came here as true classic Missionaries. At the base of this village is an incredible Catholic church expertly built by one of these Maryknoll Missionaries. As a testament of these missionaries’ incredible talent and God-given gifts, most of the patients here are Catholics and all the buildings they erected, such as housing, dining halls, clinics, and the church are still standing strong today.
Roberto Tonetto - China
To read more about Roberto Tonetto, you can find more of their story in our newsletters. Look in Fall 2023.
Roberto is currently serving in China. There his primary work is done with those who have Hansen's disease (commonly known as leprosy). He travels from village to village, or you could say from one rehabilitation center, leprosaria, to another. He helps with ulcer care, distributing shoes, prosthesis, and orthotics. As well as, helping them get surgery if needed.
A few years back he also helped refuges on the border of China and Myanmar get access to prosthesis needed for war related limb loss.
Fr. Shaun Crumb, MM - Bolivia + China
Fr. Shaun Crumb is a Maryknoll Father who recently returned from mission in China. He is originally from Glenwood, MN and was ordained a priest for Maryknoll in 2015.
His time with Maryknoll began with him taking part in Maryknoll China Teachers Project where he taught English for a year in Jilin City. He later officially joined Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in August 2008 as a seminarian. After finishing his theological studies he spent three years in Bolivia serving the people before being sent to China where he primarily taught English to University students.
Br. Sylvester Kinney, OSB - Mexico
Tom and Dr. Geetha Chitta - India
Foundation for Children in Need is a Catholic lay organization founded in 2002 in Arlington Heights, IL. In the past 19 years we have built several schools, boarding homes, a health center and two homes for the seniors in India through the generous support received through mission appeal and donors. Today FCN sponsors 2000 children and college students providing them a better future. Our educational assistance offers the students hope for a brighter future.
In our 2 homes for the seniors there are 30 individuals to whom we provide food, clothing and simple medical care totally free. They enjoy a happy and peaceful life in their senior years. Our scope also reaches into rural villages. FCN’s free medical care and health education has changed the lives of thousands. In addition, over the past 7 years, we have transformed the lives of 1500 children born with Cleft Lips and Cleft Palates. These surgeries have been totally free.
Each year we train 30 women in tailoring and embroidery in three training centers. At the end of the 9 month training everyone is awarded with a sewing machine so that they can earn a little money in their own villages. During the Pandemic we have reached out to 3,700 families with Groceries. 50,000 masks and 7000 hand sanitizers were distributed as part of our relief work. Through these activities of FCN, we bear witness to the love of Christ. Our faith strongly invites us all to serve our brothers and sisters in need locally and globally.
All our work is possible through the generous support we receive through mission appeals and from FCN sponsors. We are most grateful to you. We need your prayers and your support. Thank you and May God Bless you all.