Striving for global solidarity in all parts of the world
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Missioners Serving Abroad:
Fr. Fred Timp, SVD - Ghana
Fr. Fred Timp SVD, is currently serving in Ghana. The past few weeks he has been back in Minnesota visiting family in Freeport and even stopped in for a visit at our Office! Fr. Fred has been in Ghana for 38 years and plans to stay “as long as the Lord allows [him].” 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:
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.
Fr. John Schweiters OFM - Brazil
Fr. John Schweiters, OFM is from the Melrose-Freeport area of the St. Cloud Diocese. He’s a Franciscan Missioner in the Amazon region of Brazil and is part of the Franciscan Custodia Sao Benedito da Amazonia. COVID has caused many challenges in the past year, and along with the loss of some community members, many of them have been sick for extended periods of time. However, Fr. John is hopeful, and in a recent letter to the Office, wrote, “I´m very moved by the “missionary spirit” that continues to prevail in the whole Diocese, and the generosity you report from the people. Thanks so much for all you do to encourage the people to look widely and beyond, and be reassured that we who benefit from such generosity will remember you always in prayer.”
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.
Fr. Gabriel Joseph Ssenkindo, OSB - Uganda
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 (right now we have 2, Thomas Gillach from Lindstrom, Minnesota and Logan Lintvedt from Plymouth, Minnesota), 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.
Fr. Lawrence Otieno, MHM - South Africa
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.
Sr. Janice Wiechman - Mexico
My name is Janice Wiechman. I am a Franciscan Sister of Little Falls, MN. I was born and raised on a farm close to St. Rosa, Minnesota in the St. Cloud Diocese. I am the eldest of 11 children of Rose and Al Wiechman. I am presently living and ministering in San Rafael, Mexico. Four of us Franciscans went to San Rafael in 2003. We have ministered in the Parish of San Rafael which is a parish containing 50 villages, about half in the mountains and about half on the plains. Over the years, we have worked with catechesis, with visiting the elders and sick, with youth activities, with Bible study and leadership formation.
While visiting the towns in the parish, we discovered that the young teen girls wanted to study beyond 9th grade but did not have a way to do so. There was only one high school in the parish and it was located in the central village of San Rafael. There was no transportation from their villages to San Rafael and often a lack of finances. So, with help from our Congregation and many donors, we built a house with three dormitories and study room where the young women could live with us and go to the local high school. Close to 60 girls have lived at our house and graduated from high school now. When they graduate, we work with their families to support those who wish to continue to study in college. Some have graduated as nurses, a lawyer, soon a primary teacher, some psychologists, some in forestry and some in administration. Thanks to the support of many, many people, we have been able to support the young women on a journey they otherwise would not have been able to take. Thank you.
Emma Meyer - Honduras
My heart was set on fire for mission when I went on a three-week mission trip with FOCUS to El Salvador during the summer of 2019. I saw a third-world country for the first time with my own eyes and encountered the people there. Through prayer (especially reading the parable of the rich, young man) I felt the Lord calling me to serve His people in Central America and specially through Farm of the Child in rural Honduras.
Farm of the Child or "the Finca" still continues to serve through the pandemic. As a children's home, we are providing kids with a safe, nurturing place to grow up. The Finca also operates a community clinic and K-9 school for about 100 kids. The clinic has remained open throughout this time serving our neighbors in socially distant ways. School moved online and missionaries transitioned from roles of teaching Kindergarten and English to tutoring children.
My initial one year commitment to the Farm of the Child was filled with laughter, tears, fun, struggles, and grace-filled moments where I could see the Lord at work. Because of this I've extended my time of service for an additional year and will continue living and working at Farm of the Child until December of 2022.
If you want to learn about Farm of the Child and Emma's experience you can visit their website: https://www.farmofthechild.org/
Mama Hellen Lotara - South Sudan
I am Hellen Lotara. In 2013, I founded the Mama Hellen Lotara Nursery and Primary school in Abara, a remote village in South Sudan with little access to education. Mama Hellen’s School prepares children and youth to be responsible citizens by providing them with quality education and promoting values that can bring about positive change in South Sudan and the world. I am passionate about making education accessible to all students, especially girls, students with limited financial resources, and those who have been traumatized by war and conflict. The motto of Mama Hellen’s School is: Enter to learn…Depart to serve.” In 2017, after moving to Minnesota to join other family members escaping from conflict and violence, I connected with community leaders, business professionals and dedicated volunteers to form “Mama Hellen’s Team.” Our Team in the United States works with closely with school administrators, teachers and parents at the School in South Sudan to provide students the best possible education. We are also very grateful for our collaboration with the St. Cloud Mission Office. The impact of working together is remarkable – students at Mama Hellen’s School are achieving high test scores on national exams and continuing on to higher education; and parents are working with the administration and teachers to make improvements to the school facilities. There is much more to be done…Many hands make light work – Please join us! https://mamahellenschool.com
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.
Shaun Crumb - China
Bishop Paride Taban - South Sudan
Fr. Bob McCahill - Asia
Fr. Francis Shawa, OSB - Tanzania
Br. Loren Beaudry, MM - Tanzania
Sr. Mary Dumonceaux OFM - Mexico
Missioners Serving in Our Diocese:
Fr. Kambale Sambya Zawadi Jean-Marie, OSC - Crosiers of Onamia
Father Zawadi was born in Democratic Republic of the Congo. In his life, he will never forget the time when he was a kid, his father used to say to him, “you have to work very hard, to dream big and not stop trying.’’ After he asked him what he wanted to be in the future, spontaneously he answered, ‘ I will be a priest’’ He didn’t not know at the time that this is what was meant for him. His first contact with the Crosier Fathers and Brothers was in Kyondo when he was 17 years old and Fr. Jan Koopman, OSC, told him about Crosier religious Life. He became a solemnly professed member of the Order in 2010 and ordained priest in 2012 by the Most Rev. Monsignor Melchizedek Paluku Sikuli, Bishop of the Diocese of Butembo. In the Congo, he was the formation director for Crosier postulants in Mulo and financial secretary at the Center of listening and Psychological accompaniment. He was also one of the leaders of ADIMIRU ( Agence de Developement Integral en Milieu Rural), an agency established to promote the culture of peace and development. He is now living in the Crosier Priory in Onamia MN, and is serving as Development Director for the Crosier Fathers and Brothers. He has been working hard to fundraise for a new school that is being built in Butembo. He is pictured with school girls in Butembo.
Fr. Oswaldo Roche - Diocese of St. Cloud
My name is Fr. Oswaldo Roche. I am part of the Diocesan Partnership between my Diocese of Maracay in Venezuela and the Diocese of Saint Cloud, in Minnesota. My mission here began in October 2012, serving the Hispanic community at St. Joseph's Parish in Waite Park, Assumption in Morris, St. Boniface in Cold Spring, and St. Mary's in Melrose. Since then, I have been able to attend other communities, such as St. Leonard’s in Pelican Rapids, and currently, St. Andrew in Elk River and Immaculate Conception in Rockville. As for the English-speaking communities, I am currently the Parochial Vicar of the ACC “Together as One” in the parishes, St. Michael, St. Joseph in Waite Park, St. Peter and Saint Paul, in Saint Cloud.
Jesus Christ, missionary of the Father, came to announce the Good News of salvation to all peoples. In this month of the missions, all humanity must receive the message of love, brotherhood, charity, forgiveness and reconciliation that Jesus left us on the Cross.
At this time the prayer of the Holy Rosary, with a missionary sense, helps us to meet other cultures, opening our hearts to others who are different from us, with other languages and customs. I can bear witness to what I have seen and heard. I have seen people with great faith, surrendered to divine providence; sharing the faith, going to mass, asking for the sacraments. I have also heard the cry of hearts, who suffer to see that their families are separated, that there are many who want to help their families who live in other countries and have many needs.
Being a missionary has taught me to live with people very different from me, in race, food, language, customs. My first challenge was the cold, in my hometown, the highest temperature is 115 ° F and the lowest is 65° F. When I started to feel that the highest here was -10 ° F, I said that I would not live through it. Then the food, the hot pepper is optional and many times it remains complete on the table. When I got here, and ate the first bite, I thought it was hell, (of course every missionary should eat whatever they put before him) even if he spent three days in the bathroom. The last challenge was to understand not only the different language, in this case, English, but also the idiomatic nuances of Spanish, since when I spoke, not even Hispanics understood me. It is not the same to say "torta" in my country, which means "Cake", than to say, "Torta" in Mexico, which means "Sandwich."
The mission is just beginning, there is still a long way to go for the whole world to know and love Jesus, let's take the gospel everywhere. I can't stop talking about what I've seen and heard, that Jesus is in everyone's heart.
Liz Mach - Previously in Tanzania
Liz Mach is a recently returned Maryknoll Lay Missioner
I [Liz Mach] am sure that if many of us had a preconception of all that was going to happen during these months of COVID-19 we might have made other choices in our lives. I am probably no exception. I moved back home to Minnesota after 44 years of living in Tanzania, East Africa as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. I came into quarantine, people living in isolation and unable to visit and socialize with the extended family I am blessed to be a part of and was so looking forward to reconnecting with on my return home from the missions. Once again in my life-God's plan-not mine.
But one thing I have learned well in mission-there is always a new trail to follow and challenges to meet. And so, I find myself living in the USA, still vitally linked to Maryknoll as I work part time for them. But I have also found new ways to keep my heart in mission. I volunteer as a nurse with the SSJ Sisters program for health clinics in the Twin Cities. It allows me to connect with our immigrant communities and using my nursing skills. It puts me in contact with other like-minded folks and gives me strength.
And, as the vaccine has become available it has allowed me to reconnect, visit and enjoy my family once again. I am so grateful for this-even though it did not happen on my timeline!
Sr. Ange Mayers - Previously in Mexico
I am Sister Ange Mayers, a Franciscan of Little Falls, MN whose home parish is Immaculate Conception Church, New Munich. At this time as I’m putting closure on mission in San Rafael, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, I want to share what this ministry/call to mission has meant.
In Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela 1989-1992, the ministry/mission was based on the model of Basic Christian Communities: Comunidad de Base. This method of forming basic Christian communities was the way of putting into practice the teaching of Vatican II in Latin America. It brought neighbors together, it invited those who felt alienated from the church to have a sense of belonging, it developed leadership skills and it addressed the needs of the neighborhood. It was a living out of the Gospel of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish.
In 1994-2010, while doing cross-cultural ministry among the Tohono O’odham of Southwestern AZ, I learned that no culture is better than another. Each culture is blessed with gifts to share with other cultures. They are expressed in food, language, rituals and customs. It is our responsibility and privilege as missioners to learn what these gifts are.
In 2016-2020, in San Rafael, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, ministry was two-fold: Organizing a children’s camp for those specifically who live on the margins, those who are not involved in the community. The second, was tutoring English to youth and adults.
In our daily lives, conflict and division exist all around us! As Franciscans we are called to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis by being instruments of peace. Pope Francis, in his more recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship, calls us to see the value and meaning of forgiveness. “Forgiveness and reconciliation are central themes in Christianity and, in various ways, in other religions.” Each one of us is called to be an artisan of peace, by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding on to it, by opening paths of dialogue and not by constructing new walls.” This, we can bring to mission, to our daily lives.
Fr. Virgil Petermeier, OSC - Previously in Indonesia
During my first year in theological studies at Fort Wayne, Indiana (1971), I heard God calling me to join my Crosier brothers as a missionary in Papua, Indonesia. I volunteered to do my pastoral internship there. I finally realized God had been calling me to international mission ministry for many years already, and in many ways. During my elementary school years I loved to read the Maryknoll Magazine from cover to cover. Later, at Crosier Seminary, I recall being enthralled by vacationing Crosier missionaries’ from Papua telling their stories to the whole student body. Their Indonesian and Asmat artifacts, displayed in the seminary’s small museum, always deeply interested me.
From 1974 to 2010 I fell in love with the rainforest people and my Crosier community in the Diocese of Agats, Papua, Indonesia. I served several parishes as a pastor. Then the Crosiers asked me to help train new Indonesian Crosiers. Bishop Alphonse Sowada, OSC also asked me to coordinate diocesan pastoral planning and finally help him as his Vicar General. Thereafter, my Crosier brothers [confreres] elected me as their community leader, a ministry I fulfilled until I returned permanently to the U.S. in 2010.
From 2010 until 2020 I contributed to the life of the Crosier community at Onamia, MN while also developing and directing the Crosier Associates, a group of lay people who felt called to live Crosier spirituality in their own lives. God also called me through my long experience of living in the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, to participate in the St. Cloud Christian-Muslim Interfaith Dialogue Group. My former Indonesian experience prompted me to write a book, Encountering God in a Rainforest: Crosier Missionaries in Papua, Indonesia. I will publish it early October 2021.
Since late February 2020, I have been living and serving with my Crosier community in Phoenix, AZ. While continuing interfaith dialogue, I also serve as a spiritual director. Ministries with Veterans and the Hispanic community surrounding Crosier Village here are parts of my present mission too.
Fr. Virgil is pictured here wearing a traditional Indonesian headdress.
Fr. Danny Ohmann, MM - Previously in Tanzania
Fr. Herb Gappa, MM - Previously in Tanzania
Br. Larry Kenning, MM - Previously in Boliva
Sr. Joan Gerads OFM - Previously in Venezuela + Ecuador
Our Missioners in Heaven:
Fr. John Kaiser - Previously in Kenya
If you are aware of or in contact with a missioner from our diocese that you think we may have missed, please let us know! Also please note that this page has not been completed. There are missioners that have simply not been added yet!