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October 2019: an Extraordinary Month Onwards and upwards at St John’s Chosen by God’s grace Ride and Stride through Cambodia

Be part of something extraordinary

An extraordinary issue! Welcome to this issue of Mission Today, published at a time of great anticipation for the Church in Australia and around the world. October 2019 will be an Extraordinary Missionary Month, a time of celebration and revival of the missionary commitment of the Church. This celebration deliberately coincides with the centenary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter, Maximum Illud, which was issued in November 1919, a year after the end of the first world war. You can read more about the letter and the Extraordinary Missionary Month in this issue. Father Noel Connolly SSC explains the importance of Benedict’s letter, and there are helpful ways in which you can be a part of the celebration this year and beyond.

through Cambodia can support children and communities; and a first-hand account of an immersion experience on the island of Borneo. You will also find updates from our projects and initiatives in Myanmar, Vietnam, and here at home. As always, your thoughts and feedback ensure we can improve on the work we do and are always welcome. With blessings ahead of the Extraordinary Missionary Month,

Fr Brian Lucas, National Director

When October comes around, the international Catholic community will focus its attention on mission around the world. As the Pope’s own mission aid agency, this will be an especially momentous occasion for us; around Australia, our staff and supporters will be celebrating global mission and the significant role that each of us has in building the kingdom of God. In his message for World Mission Sunday, which falls in the Extraordinary Missionary Month, Pope Francis emphasised our role in mission. ‘I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptised man and woman is a mission,’ he said. ‘Each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love.’ In this issue of Mission Today, you can read about how your contribution has made an impact around the world. Included are some remarkable stories from Ghana, the focus of this year’s Church Appeal; how riding and striding

In this issue October 2019: an Extraordinary Month

|  page 3

Onwards and upwards at St John’s

|  page 10

Do not fear, for I am with you

|  page 4

Chosen by God’s grace

|  page 12

Partner with Ghana today

|  page 5

My ten days in Pa Umor

|  page 14

Living and learning in safety

|  page 6

Ride and Stride through Cambodia

|  page 15

Cover image: A young family returns to their home on the farm owned by the Centre for Child Development in Bolgatanga, northern Ghana (see page 5). The families work the land and tend to the animals, and in return benefit from the farm’s produce. Photo: Simone Medri Catholic Mission acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which this magazine was published.


PO Box 1668 North Sydney NSW 2059 T: 02 9919 7800 E: admin@catholicmission.org.au Editor: Matthew Poynting Design: Smarta by Design

Freecall: 1800 257 296 catholicmission.org.au

M i s s i o n To d a y – A C a t h o l i c M i s s i o n M a g a z i n e

See more

October 2019:

An Extraordinary Month In 2017, Pope Francis announced that to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud, October 2019 would be an Extraordinary Missionary Month. Almost immediately, preparations began around the world for the biggest celebration of mission in recent times, and perhaps ever. Maximum Illud – an extraordinary document Maximum Illud, a Latin term meaning “that momentous”, was issued on November 30, 1919, just over a year after the armistice ending the first world war was signed. Benedict XV wrote the document because, in his words, ‘there still remain in the world immense multitudes of people who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.’ The destructive impact of the Great War left many disillusioned with religion, especially Christianity. Father Noel Connolly is a Columban missionary and Head of Mission and Culture at the Catholic Institute of Sydney, as well as a member of Catholic Mission’s Formation team. He says Maximum Illud had impacts still felt today: ‘Benedict’s letter was revolutionary in ways that we find difficult to appreciate today. He was especially concerned with

the fate of the Church in the developing countries because he sensed the first stirrings of the various independence movements that would end colonialism. He strongly objected to three aspects of mission as practised at that time: congregationalism, nationalism and Western superiority. Benedict XV effectively began internationalising the leadership of the Church. It would bear fruit under Benedict’s successor, Pius XI, who ordained bishops for India (1923), China (1926), Japan (1927), Indochina (1937) and Africa (1937). As a result, we are increasingly a global and even “Southern” Church and now have our first pope from the “majority world”. That may not have been possible without the courage and insight shown by Benedict XV.’ A century on, Pope Francis renewed Benedict’s call in his annual message for World Mission Sunday. ‘For the month of October 2019,

M i s s i o n To d a y – A C a t h o l i c M i s s i o n M a g a z i n e

I have asked that the whole Church revive her missionary awareness and commitment as we commemorate the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Maximum Illud of Pope Benedict XV.’

What can we do? The Extraordinary Missionary Month is to be an opportunity for reflection, prayer and support for the missionary efforts of individuals, communities and the whole Church. In the lead‑up to the Extraordinary Missionary Month, Catholic Mission will be here to help the Church in Australia, providing expertise, materials and support. As the Pope’s official mission aid agency, Catholic Mission helps Catholics in Australia to live God’s mission in the world. Internationally and in Australia, there are resources, events and activities on offer so that you can join in the worldwide celebration and be part of something extraordinary! • Head to catholicmission.org.au/emm to find out how you can be a part of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019 and beyond.


Church Appeal 2019

Do not fear,

for I am with you Sarah was just four years old when she was accused of witchcraft and the deaths of fifteen people in her community. With others deciding her fate, survival seemed the best‑case scenario for the little girl. Catholic Mission’s 2019 Church Appeal tells the story of her rescue and remarkable turnaround. The appeal, with the theme ‘Do not fear, for I am with you’, aims to raise funds for the crucial work of Church missionaries in northern Ghana, who are desperately trying to end the traditional practice that nearly cost Sarah her life. Sarah suffered from a speech impediment in her very early years, and her inability to talk was linked by some to the spirit world and witchcraft. Bishop Vincent Sowah Boi‑Nai of the Yendi Diocese, where Sarah was born, explains the custom. ‘Here, when a child is born with a birth defect, they are seen as a spirit child. That child might be killed because they are seen as a bad omen.’

Isaiah 41:10

‘Sister Stan’s mission is quite extraordinary,’ says Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Catholic Mission. ‘She has an enormous weight on her shoulders in dedicating her life to rescuing and raising these vulnerable children. ‘The support that Australians can offer through this year’s Catholic Mission Church Appeal will help missionaries like Sister Stan to carry this weight of responsibility and create a future for these children filled with joy, hope and opportunity.’ The 2019 Catholic Mission Church Appeal will be heard in parishes around Australia this year in the lead‑up to the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October. • To support the work of Sister Stan and missionaries around the world, look out for appeal envelopes in your parish, phone 1800 257 296 or visit catholicmission.org.au/Ghana today.

Largely practised under a veil of secrecy, the traditional custom was exposed in a 2013 Al Jazeera special. However, across parts of northern Ghana where it is especially prevalent, the Catholic Church and its missionaries have been working for much longer with the government and local community members to educate people to turn away from those harmful practices. Sister Stan Therese Mumuni is one of those missionaries who has dedicated her life to protecting vulnerable children and giving them a chance to lead a happy and healthy life that was nearly taken from them. Sister Stan runs the Nazareth Home for God’s Children in Yendi, which offers shelter, nutritious meals, healthcare and education as well as unconditional love for children who were associated with the spirit world because of disability or the death of a parent or family member. She says her goal is to raise strong and capable children, as well as educating their communities. ‘If any one of these children that is rejected, abandoned or accused one day returns to their village, educated, and says, “Do you know me? I was rejected by you people and I was rescued by the Church, and this is who I am now”,’ says Sister Stan, ‘I think that it will be a way of stopping that practice and turning to God.’

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Sister Stan with Sarah, who was accused of witchcraft at age 4 but is now topping her class at school.

Sister Stan Therese Mumuni, Founder and Director of the Nazareth Home for God’s Children with Sarah. Photo: Simone Medri


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Ghana Mission Partners

Partner with

Ghana today As part of our growing engagement with the Church in Ghana in 2019, we are proud to launch the Ghana Mission Partners program, which will enable our supporters to directly contribute to the projects making a positive impact on children and communities in Ghana. Over 28 million people call Ghana home, and despite the country hovering around the top ten economies in Africa, many people experience socioeconomic disadvantage, especially in rural areas. As a result, in these regions young people are particularly vulnerable to issues like homelessness, human trafficking and exploitation. The Ghana Mission Partners program offers Catholic Mission supporters the opportunity to partner with programs aimed at addressing these and other issues, through a commitment of regular support. The benefit of an ongoing partnership with these programs is that it allows for greater planning and execution of the funds. Through the Ghana Mission Partners program, you can directly support initiatives that provide for young people of all ages, ranging from infants to early adulthood, like the Nazareth Home for God’s Children (see page 4) and the Centre for Child Development. Established in 1997, the Centre for Child Development (CCD) is located in Bolgatanga, the capital of Ghana’s Upper East Region. With ninety percent of the population living under the poverty line, and a large proportion of the people aged under 15 years, one of the biggest issues facing the local community is what is known as “streetism”, young people living and working on the streets with little hope for breaking the cycle of poverty. Established by the Diocese of Navrongo‑Bolgatanga’s Office for Human Development, the CCD offers a home and

outreach programs for children facing streetism. ‘The Centre for Child Development has a great vision for bringing young people who are at risk to livelihood and security,’ says Fred Amenga‑Etego, the Centre’s director. This was especially true for Caroline Nyaaba and her siblings. With their parents having left the family, Caroline became the head of the household as a teenager, caring for her siblings and their grandmother, who owned the house but was very sick. Caroline worked at the market, selling whatever small items had any value, returning home to cook, clean and care for her family. Then, tragedy struck. ‘We woke up and our grandmother was gone,’ Caroline recalls. ‘At the time, we had no one to call; our mother did not have a phone, so we went to Uncle Fred.’ Fred, a friend of Caroline’s grandmother, had offered support to the family in the past. He organised a proper burial for the children’s grandmother and welcomed them to the CCD after their house was repossessed. From a very uncertain future, Caroline and her siblings are now enjoying a happy and secure life. Caroline is studying nursing, intending to specialise in reproductive health. She wants to educate young women in rural Ghana to reduce high rates of risky teenage pregnancy. Her brother and one of her sisters are still living at the CCD, while her youngest sister has been reunited with their mother. Caroline says the family is indebted to Fred. ‘I don’t know how to express how he is to us, but he’s so wonderful and he impacted a lot in my life. Without him, I don’t know where I would have been.’ • Join today by using the coupon on the back page and make your support felt in Ghana.

From an uncertain future, Caroline is now studying nursing thanks to the CCD.

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Photo: Marcello Marchesini

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Uganda Mother Claudia Nursery and Primary School aims to provide a rounded education for all its students. Photo: Simone Medri

Living and learning

in safety

At Christmas time in 2018, we shared with our supporters the story of the Mother Claudia Nursery and Primary School in the Hoima Diocese of Uganda. Abduction and child abuse, while rare, still occur in the diocese, and often children are unable to access education because of the dangers of walking to and from the campus, especially for senior students where late nights studying are part of life. In recent months, the Mother Claudia Nursery and Primary School has implemented initiatives to protect its students and ensure their school life is safe, happy and sustainable.


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Uganda Sister Cecilia Namudira, Director of Mother Claudia Nursery and Primary School, spoke of the fears she held for some of the children once they left the school gates. ‘I fear for the safety of the children every day,’ she said. ‘We ask them to walk together in groups as very few parents can afford transport for their children between school and home.’ For one particular group, Sister Cecilia says, the commute can be especially perilous. ‘For the girl-child, walking these distances increases their vulnerability to possible situations of sexual abuse and exploitation.’ In a recent incident, not far from Mother Claudia, three girls were snatched on their way to school in a violent abduction attempt. Only one managed to escape; the other two girls haven’t been seen or heard from since. ‘It can happen during the day or night,’ says Sister Cecilia. ‘We ask the parents to come and collect the children, but many are working long hours.’ As well as those living long distances from the school, Mother Claudia caters for children coming from difficult backgrounds. Dembe, whose story we shared in our 2018 Christmas Appeal, was brought to the school by her father, who was fleeing persecution in South Sudan. With these children and so many more requiring constant watchful care, the Cistercian Sisters began a multi‑step process to ensure the students are living and learning in a safe and sustainable environment. First up were separate dormitories for girls and boys, a goal that was achieved recently thanks to generous contributions from Catholic Mission’s supporters. Sister Cecilia believes this will have a wide‑ranging impact. ‘The students can now live in good accommodation and use the classrooms where they were previously sleeping for their study,’ she says. ‘For the girls, it means they can focus on their study without the pressures of personal security and domestic duties at home.’

Following the completion of the dormitories, the Sisters turned their attention to ensuring more students from the local community can have access to education. With the generosity of our supporters, Catholic Mission has partnered with Mother Claudia to enable the construction of classroom blocks, expanding the school’s capacity, as well as the provision of nearly two dozen scholarships for girls with high intellectual ability but low socioeconomic status. ‘There are 23 girls currently benefiting from educational scholarships, which means they can access education where they couldn’t before,’ says Sister Cecilia. ‘This has an impact beyond just their own learning and development; it benefits greatly their parents and families too, who know their daughters now can dream of a bright future.’ One of those students, ten‑year‑old Desiree, shared how the scholarship has helped her. ‘This form of support has educated me on the value of sharing. Had it not been that someone over there in Australia is willing to sacrifice some of their money to support such initiatives, perhaps my parents would have continued struggling to keep me at Mother Claudia, just like it was before your intervention. I do appreciate your support and I feel energised to work all the harder to excel in my primary education and achieve my dream of being a medical doctor.’ •

‘There are 23 girls currently benefiting from educational scholarships, which means they can access education where they couldn’t before.’ Play video

Dembe with Sister Kevin, one of the Cistercian Sisters caring for the girls at Mother Claudia.

The scholarship program means that children can access education even if their economic background would not allow it.

Photo: Stephen Reinhardt

Photo: Stephen Reinhardt

M i s s i o n To d a y – A C a t h o l i c M i s s i o n M a g a z i n e


Rebecca* pauses for thought during class at Sacred Heart Junior High School in Bolgatanga. The Catholic Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga works closely with the local government to achieve positive education outcomes for young people, especially for the girl-child.

*Name changed

Photo: Simone Medri


Onwards and upwards at St John’s Father Lucas Tha Ling Sum called it an “education revolution”. As the Chancellor of the Hakha Diocese in Myanmar’s far north‑west, he implemented a program that changed the very landscape of education in the diocese and ensured, for the first time in over sixty years, its children were being taught at a level near those in neighbouring countries in the region.

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Father Lucas Tha Ling Sum observes a young student’s learning at St John’s School in Hakha. Photo: Stephen Reinhardt


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Myanmar The generous contributions of Catholic Mission’s supporters ensured St John’s School could be built in Hakha, providing a child‑centred learning environment for local children in the area. Quickly, enrolment reached 51 students in the first year across three grades—pre‑kindergarten, kindergarten and grade one. Catholic Mission not only supported the funding of the bricks and mortar to build the school, but also a bus to safely transport children to and from their homes, and three qualified teachers who would implement a new curriculum based on the Montessori method. St John’s School was truly a ground‑breaking project in the diocese—the first school of its kind in six decades since a 1962 coup resulted in the closure of missionary‑run schools—and parents immediately noticed change. Mrs Tha Chin Par says aside from the literacy and spoken English skills her daughter has learnt at St John’s, it is an increased level of proactivity around the home that has most impressed her. ‘I never thought that a child could do activities such as cleaning the room, setting the table and washing clothes,’ says Mrs Tha. ‘But when I saw my daughter doing these things, I felt surprised, and I am very happy with no words to express it.’ Mrs Tha and other parents in Hakha are thrilled with how their kids are developing as a result of the program, but one of the major concerns was its sustainability and continuity. ‘I’m worried for my daughter if St John’s can’t build new grades,’ San Waen, the father of a first‑grade student, told us last year. ‘She is doing so well, and I really fear for her future if she has to leave St John’s.’ Thanks to your generous contribution through our work with communities, Catholic Mission has been able to provide the funding and project support to ensure St John’s can progress its students through to higher levels of school, maintaining their dedication to the children’s learning and development. The most recent academic year, from June 2018 to June 2019, saw 155 students enrolled in the school. Two additional grades were added—second and third— with nine fully qualified teachers joining the roster. These teachers came through specialised training programs established by the Myanmar Church and supported by Catholic Mission’s work with communities. The training programs are run at the Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education and the Episcopal Commission for Education and prepare teachers with an approved curriculum to teach in rural parts of Myanmar. ‘The community response to the school and its teaching program has been overwhelmingly positive to date, with demand for places far exceeding the current supply,’ says Father Lucas. This burst of student numbers meant that a second school bus had to be purchased, and this was achieved with the support of Catholic Mission’s donors.

M i s s i o n To d a y – A C a t h o l i c M i s s i o n M a g a z i n e

St John’s School was this year able to expand its capacity, bringing in more local children and ensuring current students could progress through the grades. Photo: Lawrence Gigliotti

With scores of new students joining the school each academic year, it would need to expand. Again, Catholic Mission’s supporters answered the call, providing the funds to enable construction of a second school building. ‘On completion, the second building will facilitate the school’s expansion to a full primary school with eight new classrooms,’ says Father Lucas. ‘This will enable St John’s to cater to over 250 children from across Hakha, improving access to education in the region.’ The sustainability of St John’s School is tantamount to the sustainability of education in the Hakha Diocese and its flow‑on effects for the community, the region and the country. Thanks to Catholic Mission’s partnership with the Diocese and the contributions of our supporters, the school’s sustainability is ensured. Father Lucas says the benefits are there for all to see. ‘Having a safe and well‑appointed school building has improved the quality of the learning environment for the students and increased the parents’ interest in their children’s education,’ he reports. ‘The teaching method at St John’s has been helpful for the school’s children with special needs [currently numbering six], who are learning well with the support of their teachers, parents and classmates who learn with them.’ Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, says the support Catholic Mission’s donors have provided is a source of inspiration to the Church and people of Myanmar. ‘Catholic Mission has invested a lot in promoting good quality education for our people. With your generous support we can see the benefits for children from different places and diverse cultures, beliefs and religions.’ •

‘The community response to the school and its teaching program has been overwhelmingly positive to date, with demand for places far exceeding the current supply.’


No matter how they felt their calling, Francis (middle) and Peter (right), say it is a blessing from God. Photo: Stephen Reinhardt


by God’s grace Early in 2019, we shared with you the story of Francis Xavier Huu Tinh, a seminarian at Stella Maris Major Seminary in Nha Trang, a coastal and mountainous diocese of Vietnam. Francis first felt a calling to the priesthood in high school, after he witnessed a friend tragically die in a motor accident. While it may come as a surprise, those who have felt it, from seminarians to Pope Francis, say the call to religious life is a blessing from God.


M i s s i o n To d a y – A C a t h o l i c M i s s i o n M a g a z i n e

Vietnam Countless seminarians around the world have told stories similar to Francis’. There may be a moment in their lives in which they feel profoundly challenged or tested, and their understanding of and response to the circumstances can precipitate that feeling of being called to religious life.

Peter was six years old when he knew he wanted to be a priest. Photo: Stephen Reinhardt

Francis’ classmate at Stella Maris, Peter Hoang Minh Trung, was even younger when he made his mind up. ‘I was six years old when I received an award from my parish priest for my study in catechism,’ says the fourth‑year theology student. ‘He asked me what I wanted to do for a job and I consciously answered that I wanted to be a priest. From that moment my dream developed day by day.’ Pope Francis spoke about the phenomenon of priestly vocation in his message on the 56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations in May 2019. ‘The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God in our freedom; it is not a “cage” or a burden to be borne,’ he said. ‘On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking. He opens before our eyes the horizon of a greater sea and an abundant catch.’ The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is a day on which the Church concentrates its attention on vocations to the ordained ministries, to religious life in all its forms, and to mission ad gentes. With numbers of vocations generally declining around the world, this is an important day on the Church’s calendar. In developing countries like Vietnam, pursuing a calling to priestly life comes with significant personal sacrifice. Economically it is not an easy decision for seminarians like Francis and Peter, who come from low‑income families. With their parents struggling to pay tuition fees and other daily costs, the seminarians’ ability to transform their vocation into a livelihood is so often reliant on the support they receive from benefactors. Each of the young men at Stella Maris is supported by Catholic Mission’s work with Church leaders and the contributions of our faithful supporters. Father John Baptist Dinh Ngo Tien, Rector at Stella Maris Major Seminary, shares how these contributions have made a difference. ‘We ended our academic year on June 1, 2019, with 35 theology graduates, and of those, 17 are taking an exam for the Bachelor of Sacred Theology granted by the Pontifical Urban University in Rome, with which Stella Maris is affiliated. Francis Xavier Huu Tinh is one of these 17 students.’ It is a blessing that motivates Peter every day. ‘Firstly, I hope to sincerely say thanks to you all, our supporters in Australia,’ he says. ‘You are so generous. Your support helps us so much on the journey to become priests.’ He has a clear vision for his purpose as a priest and says his seminary training is building the best foundation to achieve his goals. ‘I think that to be ordained is to be chosen by God for a special mission. Being a priest is God’s grace. I want to become the one who brings the beauty and the joy of the Gospel to the people so that they can be saved.’

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Peter wants to reach young people with his message. ‘I am most interested in the ministry for the youth. The youth is the future of the Church. They need a firm basis of Catholic faith so that they can become good Catholics in the future’. As someone who was influenced by his own parish priest, Peter believes his ministry could have positive impacts on vocations in his home. ‘The seed of the religious vocation can easily be sown into the hearts of young people to work in the vineyard of the Church.’ •

‘I think that to be ordained is to be chosen by God for a special mission. Being a priest is God’s grace. I want to become the one who brings the beauty and the joy of the Gospel to the people so that they can be saved.’


My ten days in Pa Umor Late last year, five HSC students from the Diocese of Armidale travelled to Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. One of the students, Grace Toakley, shared her experience of what was an eye‑opening trip. In November, I travelled to the remote village of Pa Umor, Malaysia for a ten‑day immersion, along with four other students from the Armidale Diocese, four teachers and our awesome facilitator, Linda. Travelling to this isolated community started from Sydney and ended in a 16‑seater plane flying over gorgeous mountainscape as we made our way to Bario. From there, we drove twenty minutes over newly installed cement roads in absolute awe at the cloud‑covered mountains and bright green rice fields that surrounded us. During my time adjusting to life in Pa Umor, I was constantly amazed by the surreal beauty of the land surrounding the villages, and the genuine warmth that we were greeted with wherever we went. The community of Pa Umor is small and closely gathered, and in conversations

with the villagers we learnt that they had only gained access to electricity and gas in the last two years. Many of them have only recently started working for ringgit (Malaysian currency) — before that the people were self‑sufficient and relied only on the natural resources provided by the surrounding jungle. It was extremely interesting to live with a community transitioning from a traditional way of life to a more modern one, and for me it raised questions surrounding how they would preserve their culture for the years to come. Meeting and conversing with the local people in both Pa Umor and Bario was one of the most memorable components of our immersion. It was amazing that we were able to make comparisons and find similarities between our lifestyles, and above all it was so much fun to share games and presentations with the community! I find it incredible that our trip will have made a lasting contribution to Pa Umor, especially through projects such as the shelter on their ‘Prayer Mountain’ where our team successfully constructed the foundation posts (harder than it looks!). I left Pa Umor knowing so much more about my capabilities and the ways in which my actions can have a positive effect on others. I learnt so much from the beautiful people of Pa Umor through their patience and hospitality, their generosity in never hesitating to share with us, and their enthusiasm to include us in community events like afternoon volleyball and church ceremonies. For that, I am so thankful that I was able to participate in this Catholic Mission immersion, and for anyone considering a similar trip I cannot encourage you enough. • If you are interested in learning more about how your school or adult group can get involved in an immersion experience like no other, head to catholicmission.org.au/immersions or phone 02 9919 7845. Photos: supplied


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Ride and Stride

through Cambodia ‘Sitting beside this deeply committed community was a privilege and a profoundly enriching experience,’ said Mrs Krivacic, who noted a spirited atmosphere among the group. With the Trek having wrapped up, the focus is now on January 2020, when the series returns to Cambodia, where the inaugural adventure, the Ride to Reach Out, took place in 2017.

As seven exhausted Australians concluded their Trek to Reach Out adventure in February 2019 with Mass at Yangon’s St Mary’s Cathedral, thoughts turned to the next great adventure, the Ride and Stride in January 2020. On the last day of January, in moderate Myanmar conditions, the seven participants of Catholic Mission’s Trek to Reach Out began their odyssey, which would see them cover sixty kilometres of stunning landscape from historic Mandalay to bustling Yangon. The rare opportunity was offered in collaboration with Inspired Adventures, who provided an experienced guide, while Catholic Mission’s Sonja Krivacic and Lawrence Gigliotti were there to field questions about the organisation’s work in Myanmar. The group, which included participants from Perth, Melbourne, Wollongong, Broken Bay and Maitland-Newcastle, raised over $22,000 for projects in Myanmar, some of which they had the opportunity to visit during the experience. ‘One of the things I’ve learnt is the benefits of the infrastructure of the Church in leading development initiatives that were in the past focused only on individual projects,’ said participant Barry Howard from Melbourne.

‘It was a perspective‑changing experience,’ says Bernadette Bryant, a participant on that trip. ‘My overall impression is that it is something of exceptional value, both personally and as a Catholic. It gave me a sense of overwhelming gratitude.’ With 23 kilometres of hiking, fifty kilometres of cycling and an itinerary that includes the UNESCO World Heritage‑listed Angkor Wat, Tonle Sap lake, a visit to the iconic “floating church”, and the sombre remnants of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, it will be an experience that will remain with you for a lifetime. ‘Not only will participants get the best of both worlds— cycling and hiking—in terms of the physical challenges, but it is a rare opportunity for them to see the real Cambodia,’ said Catholic Mission’s Programs Manager, Lawrence Gigliotti. Catholic Mission’s Fundraising Manager, Silje Lea, says in addition a major drawcard will be the project visits. ‘This is a great chance for contributors to witness first‑hand the work that they support in action and to have a better perspective on how they are making a difference in people’s lives.’ • Interested in challenging yourself and making a difference in 2020? Places are limited, so join the Ride and Stride today! Learn more at catholicmission.org.au/rideandstride.

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Photo: Inspired Adventures

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Please tear off and return in a sealed envelope to address below

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Below are some examples of how you can be part of mission and support the global work of Catholic Mission.*

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Ghana Mission Partners

Your monthly gift will directly support programs in Ghana, like the Centre for Child Development (page 5).

Children’s Mission Partners

Your monthly gift will support child-focused programs around the world, like Mother Claudia Nursery and Primary School (pages 6-7).


Can cover the cost of academic materials, lodging, food and healthcare for one seminarian at Stella Maris Major Seminary in Vietnam for one week.


Can cover the cost of one child to board at Mother Claudia Nursery and Primary School in Uganda for three weeks.


Can contribute towards the cost of educational resources for remote schools like St John’s in Hakha, which are supported by the work of the Church in Myanmar.


Can cover the cost of providing nutritious food for one child at Nazareth Home for God’s God’s Children in Ghana for eight weeks.

Friends in Faith

Your monthly gift will support community programs around the world, like St John’s School (pages 10-11).

Leaders for Life*

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Your monthly gift will support Church leaders around the world, like Francis and Peter in Vietnam (pages 12-13).

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Profile for Catholic Mission

Mission Today - Winter/Spring 2019  

Mission Today - Winter/Spring 2019