Quite often, when I am visiting schools or parishes, speaking about the missionary work of the Church and the need for everyone to take responsibility for it, I hear the same feedback: I have so little. How can I make a difference when the problems are so large?
My first response is clear -- we can all pray, daily, for missionaries and the people they accompany on their faith journey.
When I ask missionaries, anywhere, what we can do to help them in their ministry, their answer is always the same: Pray for us.
As Pope Francis said, "Prayer is the bread of faith." Missionaries need our prayers to feed them, spiritually.
Of course, missionaries have material needs as well as spiritual ones; you may be surprised at the difference that even the smallest contribution can make to their work.
This is why I encourage everyone with whom I speak to look at their budget and find a way to carve out even the smallest of monthly sacrifices for the missions. (Of course, large contributions are very welcome, too!)
And how does $10 a month help a missionary's work?
-- Twelve disabled elderly people are fed at a mission clinic in Haiti
-- Six children are vaccinated against polio in Zambia
-- Three people suffering from cholera in India will receive life-saving IV fluids
-- Seventy-five children will have pencils for school in Ecuador
While speaking recently at St. Oscar Romero Parish in Canton, Mass., I asked the Confirmation class to think about giving up one large coffee a week and send us the proceeds every month. According to The Global Coffee Report, the average cup of coffee in the United States costs $3.77. (Sorry Dunkin'. I frugally make mine at home.) If just half of those 120 students accepted my challenge, at the end of the month the missions would have an extra $900.
The adults at the parish received their own challenge. Could they forgo a trip through the drive-through, where the average cost per meal is $6, and send that to the missions every month? A family of four would sacrifice $24 as monthly donors with that sacrifice. With the great Mass attendance I witnessed at the parish, I would guesstimate Canton families would be sending over $3,000 to support the work of missionaries each month.
Now, go back and read that bullet-pointed paragraph again and do the math.
A cup of coffee. A fast-food meal. Those sacrifices are the fruit of the first thing missionaries ask for -- prayer.
Decide on your own personal sacrifice and become a monthly donor at www.propfaithboston.org.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.
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