Saint John's School: An Educational Oasis in Myanmar

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, formerly called Burma -- is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand. In area, it's slightly smaller than Texas, with close to double the amount of people. About 1.3 percent of the country's population is Catholic. The Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS) aids them as they grow in their faith amidst political upheaval and persecution.

In the Diocese of Hakha, The Missionary Childhood Association -- one of our Church's four Pontifical Mission Societies -- is there to help children weather the political storm by providing education. Located in the mountainous region of Chin State, Hakha is one of the most remote areas of Myanmar. There is very little development. School facilities, where they exist, are inadequate. The region has one of the lowest literacy rates in all of Myanmar. Over a quarter of all people in Chin State have never been to school.

With funding from Missionary Childhood, Saint John's School is changing the educational status of the area. Since the beginning of construction in January 2017, one of two planned buildings is finished, and fifteen Early Child Care Development teachers have been trained. They have also completed the Church's catechesis instruction program for the complete formation of the 155 students attending Saint John's.

The school strives to be a model of best practices in education. While other schools in Myanmar are still teaching by outdated memorization and rote learning techniques, Saint John's is educating using child-centered practices. Materials are created to support the needs of the individual student's abilities and learning styles.

The construction of a second classroom building will increase the school's capacity by an additional 240 students. More teachers must be trained and formed in the Church's catechetical programs. Current teachers need on-going formation as well. The school also hopes to buy a second bus so the children who live in the furthest reaches of the area can be served by the school.

Help us make this project -- and others like them throughout the missions -- a reality. Give to MCA online on #GivingTuesday, November 28, or send us a gift in the mail by that date. A generous donor will match the first $10,000 we raise that day; that total will prompt another $10,000 gift!

In November 2017, Pope Francis visited Myanmar and said, "Through the generous assistance provided by The Pontifical Mission Societies, the Church in this country is helping great numbers of men, women and children, regardless of religion or ethnic background."

We need YOU to continue this generous assistance! Go to and follow the prompts for #iGiveCatholic on #GivingTuesday!

- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.