First-hand account from Sri Lankan seminary, orphanage, school
By Father K. William Holoubek, director, Diocesan Mission Office
(SNR) - The annual celebration of World Mission Sunday – Oct. 18 this year – includes every parish in every Catholic Diocese in the entire world.
We are truly “One Family In Mission.” There are around 1,150 mission dioceses in the world at this time. The World Mission Sunday collection by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith on the third Sunday each October is used by Pope Francis to develop, support and maintain the Catholic faith in these mission dioceses throughout the world.
The Catholic Faith is experienced in Catholic parishes in the mission lands. Only the four Pontifical Mission Societies have as their primary purpose the evangelization by spreading the Good News through the building and strengthening of Catholic mission parishes ministries and structures.
While in Sri Lanka last spring for the ordination of the Sri Lankan seminarians educated by the Diocese of Lincoln, accompanied by Dave and Karen Cronin of St. John the Apostle Parish in Lincoln, I had the joy of visiting some of the projects supported by the annual World Mission Sunday collection.
We visited the National Catholic Seminary in Kandy, Sri Lanka. This seminary is a profound example of stewardship. Dioceses are not charged any tuition for the education of their seminarians. Each diocese is expected to provide priests to be professors at the seminary to educate the seminarians studying there. The priests receive the equivalent salary (stipend) of around $25-$30 per month. They are also asked to give 30% of their Mass stipends back to the seminary for its operation.
The seminarians raise fruits and vegetables, swine and dairy animals to provide for three or four months’ worth of food for the seminary. Almost 50% of the seminary’s yearly operating expenses (approximately $130,000) comes from Society for the Propagation of the Faith from the World Mission Sunday collection and the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, which raises money for all the seminarians and religious in formation in the mission diocese of the world.
On this spring trip, we also visited an orphanage for 74 girls ages 4-18 that is run by an order of women religious. There are four Sisters and two laywomen who care for these girls.
The government assists the orphanage, in the amount of roughly 10 cents per child per day. Without the funds obtained from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith through the World Mission Sunday collection, orphanages such as these would find it very difficult to maintain their buildings and provide the amazing care that they give to these young girls.
Lastly, we visited a school for deaf and mute children located near a parish church and run by another order of women religious. They have two dormitories, one for girls and one for boys. The Sisters told me of various needs for lighting, transportation and ongoing repairs for the buildings that the monies from the World Mission Sunday collection provide for them. Most of the students are not Catholic yet all of them have a great love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Their beautiful smiles will remain with me.