Throughout the many (Arch)diocesan mission offices around the world, we often refer to ourselves as One Family in Mission. We feel strongly that, united by a common faith and desire to see that faith grow worldwide, we share a bond as deep as family. Whether collaborating on mission education materials or working to overcome a workday problem, there is always someone to turn to for encouragement and support.
The idea of family not always being from blood ties is evident to me when I travel to the missions. In Sri Lanka, I met missionary Sisters who had become mothers to many young girls who had no one to care for them. Though called orphanages, these homes and schools are not what we would think of as a home for children with no parents.
Many of the children that I met -- mostly girls -- had families. Some had been removed from their home because of abuse or neglect, but most had come to live with the Sisters because their parents, due to poverty, had to make a Solomon's choice: which child should I feed today?
As a mother, it makes me shudder to think of having to make such a choice. The reality is, we must only look at the nightly news, or daily headlines to find places where parents and their children are not as lucky as the ones in Sri Lanka, who's care comes from missionaries.
Famine and food insecurity have become a way of life for millions in our world.
According to recent UN statistics, over three million Somalis -- more than a quarter of that country's population -- are facing an acute food crisis. Even within refugee camps, food is scarce.
In South Sudan, after years of ongoing war and conflict, over six million citizens face dire hunger or starvation. This number is expected to rise.
Thanks to the missionary Sisters I met in Sri Lanka, the girls left in their care not only had their daily bread ensured but also a regular education and a roof over their heads. They also were secure in the knowledge that, as part of God's family, they were loved. Many of the girls spoke of their blood families with gratitude -- they knew it was a sacrifice for their parents to leave them with "strangers". For most, a life-saving sacrifice.
Every day missionaries reach out to the most marginalized -- the hungry, the destitute, and the hopeless of our world.
With your prayerful and generous help, they have the opportunity to prevent an ever-increasing number of parents from having to make their own Solomon's Choice.
Learn more at www.propfaithboston.org.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.