(SNR) - Recently, Father William Holoubek, diocesan mission director and pastor of St. Mary Parish in Sutton and St. Helena Parish in Grafton, and Father Harlan Waskowiak, pastor of St. James Parish in Curtis, St. William Parish in Wellfleet and St. Joseph Parish in Farnam, had the opportunity to visit one of the official projects supported by this year’s World Mission Sunday collection - Kingston, Jamaica.
World Mission Sunday, which was observed Oct. 21, encourages all the faithful to pray for the missionary works of the Universal Catholic Church and to support these important efforts through a collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
"This Society is one of the four Pontifical Missionary Societies of the Catholic Church. It specifically promotes the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the growth of the Catholic Faith throughout the world," explained Father Holoubek. "It is the official missionary arm of the Catholic Church."
Monies collected from this collection are forwarded to Rome, where all the national mission directors gather to allocate funds according to the needs of each of the 1,150 missionary dioceses in the world.
"As a Mother, the Catholic Church knows best the needs of her children," Father Holoubek said.
Because this Society is under the direction of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, it has the ability to evaluate and assist those who are in most need. So, unlike trying to allocate one’s own charitable giving, contributors have the confidence of knowing that the Church will ensure their gifts accomplish the most good.
Father Donald Chambers, national mission director for the Antilles Islands, invited Fathers Holoubek and Waskowiak to Kingston, Jamaica, to visit local Mustard Seed homes, which will receive a portion of World Mission Sunday funds collected in the U.S.
"It was a great opportunity to see the work of the Society for the Propagation of the faith in action," Father Holoubek said.
Mustard Seed began as a home for abandoned and disabled children. Today, there are more than 10 homes throughout Jamaica and several other residences in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and Zimbabwe.
The project houses more than 500 children and young adults with disabilities, children who are HIV-positive, and pregnant teens and their babies. While each facility has its own method of generating income to pay daily bills, such as raising chickens and fish, they are dependent on the generosity of those who are more fortunate.
While in Jamaica, Father Holoubek presented Father Chambers with an additional donation, a special gift from the people of his parishes. Father Chambers said he would distribute half to the island country of Gayam, which is the poorest of all the Caribbean islands, and the other half to another island, almost as poor.
"This was a wonderful way to see how the Church works through the Society for the Propagation of the Faith," Father Holoubek said.
At a Mustard Seed home called Jerusalem, Fathers Holoubek and Waskowiak met some of the 150 handicapped or HIV-positive children and young adults who live there. Volunteers who come from all walks of life, from all over the world ("some even from Norfolk, Nebraska") assist and accompany the children throughout their day, which begins with Mass and prayer.
"We were blessed to see the Catholic faith and spirituality permeate the entire facility and program," reported Father Holoubek.
Both men were struck by how often they saw a print of The Divine Mercy with "He is here" written below it. The message "Thank you, Lord" was frequently painted in prominent places. Signs of their devotion to the Blessed Mother are also prominent throughout the facilities.
Father Holoubek decided to ask Mustard Seed founder, Msgr. Gregory Ramkissoon about these messages over lunch one day.
"Msgr. Gregory stated that these are the basis of the spirituality of Mustard Seed, the real and loving presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and gratitude," said Father Holoubek.
Throughout each Mustard Seed facility, there are small chapels where the Eucharist is reserved and perpetually adored. Fathers Holoubek and Waskowiak counted five chapels in one residence alone.
"Msgr. told us that there is a handicapped resident in adoration of Jesus’ real presence 24 hours a day," Father Holoubek said. "All the staff and residents attend daily Mass, the liturgy of the hours, and the rosary each day."
Msgr. Gregory also stated that the children are always quiet in chapel for prayer, even though many seemingly cannot control their verbal outbursts at other times. Frequently, he said, volunteers are so moved to see the deep faith of these handicapped children, they are moved to tears.
"They know that He — Jesus — is present and the love of God with them in prayer," Father Holoubek said.