Franciscan Missionaries on the Front Lines

Once again we are welcoming our Missionaries back to the Diocese.  It was wonderful last year to resume in-person Mission Appeals.  The Diocese had a highly successful MCP and we are looking forward to this year’s Missionary visits.

Over 40 different Mission Organizations from around the world will be visiting our parishes to share with us the amazing work they do. The missionaries’ main work is spreading the Gospel message and bringing the Sacraments to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But a large part of their work is living the Corporal Works of Mercy: by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick, visiting the prisoner, burying the dead, and giving alms to the poor.

Many of our Missionaries are from extremely poor, rural Dioceses where the Church is a lifeline for survival.  Order priests, sisters, and religious help in these same Diocese in any way they can.  This is absolutely true of the religious order of the Franciscan Missions.  These friars respond to spiritual and corporal needs in Asia, Oceana, Africa, South America, and Europe.

Their resoluteness to the task of being present for those in need can be seen in recent events. On February 24, 2022, Russia began its attack on Ukraine.  As we know from the news reports this has been a war fought on several fronts with many civilians in the crossfire.  Currently Fr. Danyil Botvina, OFM, a Provincial in Ukraine and 65 other friars are serving those who are suffering from this war.  Some people have stayed in their cities and towns because they are afraid to leave, while others have become refugees, forced from their homes, sometimes with little or no notice.

Fr. Danyil and the friars do their best to help the people.  The province’s 16 friaries and 54 parishes have all become shelters for those seeking food and protection.  The refugees are women and children, the elderly and the frail. The friars risk their own lives trying to bring the necessities of life to the people.  They are the ones who leave the relative safety of the shelters to buy food and other supplies.  Every day is a challenge as the war is fought on the ground and in the air.  A place that is relatively peaceful one day can become a battleground the next.

The friars bring a sense of peace and security to the people to whom they minister. By our generous participation in the MCP, through prayer and almsgiving, we can join the Franciscans in bringing to life the words of Pope Francis:

“The Catholic Church views assisting those in need as a fundamental Christian duty that is derived directly from the life of mercy of Christ, who himself was an immigrant and a child of refugees.”