"Why Do You Tell Stories?"
2016: Vol 68, Issue 1
Note From The Editor
Basically, this is the question that the disciples asked Jesus, as He addressed a crowd of people by the sea one day. Jesus answered them, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted.” It seems the disciples were concerned about Jesus’s words being lost on the gathering. They may even have wanted Jesus to simply tell the people what to do, and what to believe. He explained that though the disciples were ready and receptive to insights into God’s kingdom, the others were not yet there. He reminded the disciples of the prophecy of Isaiah, which said that the people would hear but not understand, and would look but not see. His parables were then meant to catalyze their receptiveness: nudging the hearts of the people toward a greater understanding from within.
Our missionaries tell stories as well. The stories they share describe their experiences encountering God’s presence among the people to whom we are sent. In many remote corners of the world, our missionaries find the people who are marginalized from society and shoulder difficult burdens. Without their stories, we too may hear––but not fully understand––their plight. Without their stories, can we truly see our brothers and sisters, and fully appreciate God’s desire for us to embrace one another?
Our missionaries are sensitive to the sufferings and needs of their people. And through their stories, we can see how the heart of Jesus supports the needs of fledgling faith communities, responds to the cries of the poor, and soothes the hearts and minds of the sick and imprisoned. Through these accounts, we are the privileged disciples, with the gift of insight. Jesus’s ministry of compassion reaches out to us through the pages of these missionary accounts. Blessed are the storytellers: may their words open our ears, eyes, and hearts to understanding God’s will for us all.
Read This Issue's Stories
“Catholic Church” is not the first thing most people think of when the subject of Taiwan comes up in conversation or in global news. For many Taiwanese, both Catholic and non-Catholic alike, living in the capital city of Taipei, the Missionhurst-run parish of Christ the Savior is a central feature of daily life. Fr. Omer Masela, pastor of Christ the Savior, shares his experiences of building up the Catholic community in Taipei while at the same time building bridges through interreligious dialogue with the Taoists and Buddhists who come to the church for various reasons. The hope, Fr. Omer explains, is that everyone who comes to Christ the Savior Catholic parish will truly encounter the One who came to save us.
How do the impoverished sick in Northeast Haiti keep from falling into despair? Fr. Zébédée Lobo shares one family’s secret in a powerful story of an encounter with a sick elderly couple, who were so moved by a simple home visit that they told Fr. Zebedee, “Thank you God because you have come to visit us. Though we feel weak and abandoned you have come to us and brought us courage, strength, and joy. You are the only one we desire in life now.” Before you read the whole article, prepare yourself to be inspired and challenged by the beauty of Fr. Zebedee’s pastoral ministry to the sick.
Despite the influences of social media and the ubiquity of technology, even in a developing nation like the Dominican Republic, the youth of Fr. Audrey Munez’s parish continue to impress him with their generosity, flexibility, energy, and willingness to take responsibility for their own faith formation. Many of these young people are living in poverty and must take on the added responsibility of working to support their families, but that doesn’t stop them from participating in the parish choir and even organizing their own prayer meetings and service projects. Fr. Audrey’s stories reinforce the importance of encouraging and supporting young Catholics, especially in the developing world, so that they can carry on the mission of the Church in the years to come.
How can you help empower young people living in the garbage dumps and gang-dominated barrios of Guatemala, Honduras, and even California’s Central Valley? Fr. Isadore Ndjibu, a missionary in Tierra Nueva, Guatemala, says that the children he serves have greatly benefited from a program run by Fotokids, a non-profit that teaches children photography skills as well as providing education, tutoring, meals, and job training. By teaching artistic modes of expression to children whose lives have been marked by poverty and violence, these vicious cycles can be broken. In the 24 years of Fotokids’ existence, the organization has provided a way out of abject poverty for many children, and even given them an opportunity to see their photography in galleries around the world.
In our individualistic culture, we may be tempted to think that sacrificing our time, money, and space to care for family and friends is going “above and beyond” our call to love. The villagers of Bois de Laurence in Northeast Haiti, where Fr. Anaclet Mukendi Mpunga serves, don’t see it that way. For them, laying down their lives each day to help those they love survive is “just life.” Read on to find out more about how members of Fr. Anaclet’s community make a difference in one another’s lives through acts of service, commitment to education, and willingness to sacrifice personal comfort for the greater good.