Welcome back! Please let me share more of my beautiful journey with you. Since my last writing I celebrated my 61st birthday. Yikes, I’m getting up there. In numbers, that is, but not in spirit. Sister Agnes and I share the same birth date.
My fellow missionary, Diane, as well as Sister Julianna, Msgr. Gus, Father Charles, and a few teachers gathered for some good food and drinks. The best part of the evening was when students crashed the party to wish me a Happy Birthday and shower me with confetti.
One way to really experience a different culture is to attend a wedding. I was fortunate enough to be invited to one of the teacher’s wedding reception. Although it was a wedding in a different country, and of a different religion (Muslim), one thing was the same, the happiness seen on the face of the bride and groom, the parents, and well, of all in attendance. It was a great experience.
The Diocese of Damongo sent me to the Tamale Institute of Cross Cultural Studies, where I learned more about Ghana’s culture and customs. Six Seminarians, two from Kenya, two from Congo and two from Togo were a part of the class. It was a blessing to hear these young men talk about their desires to answer God’s call by dedicating their lives to the work of the Church.
While at the institute we visited a site where women make Shea butter. A gentleman from the community, who also taught us at the institute, set up machines needed for these women to make Shea butter. The work is hard. They women start by going out in the early hours of the morning to gather the Shea nuts needed. The process takes an entire day. While the women are busy at work, their children stand outside the compound and wait for their mothers to finish.
Another experience we had while at the institute was to visit a witch camp. A witch camp is a settlement where women who are unjustly accused of being witches flee for safety. Once an accusation is made, the women are subject to lynching, or are even killed. There are at least six of these camps in Ghana, housing around 1,000 women.
In order get to the camp we walked over a mile. As you can see, the path was flooded. I actually enjoyed the walk. I felt like a kid again, trampling through the muddy water.
I was sad to leave the institute. While there I met an amazing little girl, Suzie. Her mother works at the institute and each day five year old Suzie has to keep herself busy. It was a joy spending my free time with her. Suzie was cheerful, energetic, incredibly smart and very loving. I saw the sadness in her eyes when I said goodbye. I felt the sadness in my heart.
The month of October each year is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. Here at SAGISS, the Rosary is said at 5:30 p.m. The girls process throughout the campus following a student carrying Mary on her head. The procession ends when the statue is placed on a beautifully decorated table. At this time prayers are said and songs to our Mother are sung.
Before leaving for mission, Father John Sedlak, our Pastor at St. Florian’s Roman Catholic Church in United, PA, my home Parish, presented me with a mission Rosary. Each decade of the Rosary is a different color, representing an area where the Church continues to evangelize: Green if for the forests and grasslands of AFRICA; Blue for the ocean surrounding the islands of the PACIFIC; White symbolizing EUROPE, the seat of the Holy Father; Red calling to mind the fire of faith that brought missionaries to the AMERICAS, and Yellow, the morning light of the East, for ASIA. I use these Rosaries every day.
I would like to share with you something I feel is important. Pope Francis has declared October 2019 to be an Extraordinary Month of Mission. We are all called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with all peoples. I came across a prayer that sums up why I am here on mission:
Father, You will Your Church to be the
sacrament of salvation to all peoples.
Make us feel more urgently the call to
work for the salvation of our human
family until You have made us one
people. Inspire us to continue the
saving work of Christ everywhere until
the end of the world.
Thank you Lay Mission-Helpers for giving me the opportunity to serve.