A visit with our bishop

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Diocesan Mission Collection, July 19-20

Our local church has global impact

 

By Jay Nies and Mark Saucier

Mercy and solidarity can open up even the most barren soil to an unimaginable harvest.

Columban Father Cathal Gallagher experiences that every day while ministering to people in Lima, Peru, who have HIV-AIDS. 

“We know that The Word entered into human history — our history — and continues to enlighten us and invite us to be His disciples and the messengers of God’s love to others,” Fr. Gallagher stated in a homily he recently recorded on the readings for Sunday, July 20. 

Click here to see a video of the homily.

Fr. Gallagher is director of “Sí, da Vida,” a program for the prevention of HIV and AIDS and treatment for people who are already affected by it. 

“It has been a joy and blessing to watch people grow and in turn bring the message of hope to others,” he said. 

“Sí, da Vida” means, “Yes, It Gives Life.”

The program receives major funding from the Mission Office of the Jefferson City diocese. 

A collection to support this and many other mission efforts around the globe will be taken up during Masses next weekend, July 19-20. 

  

                                                                              "New dawn for the Church"

Fr. Gallagher said he believes the world and the Church have been experiencing a major paradigm shift since the election of the first Latin American Pope last year.

“Just as world history changed with the discovery of the New World, there is an air of expectation that with the first Pope from the New World there will be a new dawn for the Church,” the priest stated. 

“The message is simple,” he continued. “God loves each and every person and no one is excluded from God’s love. As Pope Francis says, ‘No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love.” 

Fr. Gallagher asserted that works of love directed to one’s neighbor are the most perfect external manifestation of the interior grace of the Spirit.” 

He noted that solidarity is based on empathy with those who suffer, “an ability to look outside ourselves and see the other as a sister or brother.” 

“When I see someone as a brother or sister, my first inclination is to help rather than to judge,” he said. 

  

                                                                                      It gives life!

Fr. Gallagher went to Peru from his native Ireland some 30 years ago. 

He quickly understood that mercy and compassion are intrinsically linked to the Gospel he was sent to preach and cultivate. 

Serving in a parish of 80,000 souls, many of the very poor, he became active in schools and soup kitchens and other means of promoting the God-given dignity of the people in his care. 

In turn, they magnified The Word and directed it right back at him. 

“The Church has to accept the unruly freedom of The Word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking,” he said.

One day, while visiting a medical dispensary in Lima, he met a young man whose two brothers had died of HIV-AIDS and who thought he would be next. 

“I was evangelized by the situation,” Fr. Gallagher recalled. 

He soon realized that he was being called not only to help people in that young man’s situation but to empower them with the Word of God. 

“Solidarity by its very nature implies empowerment — no longer powerful and powerless but rather every person playing a role in the search for the common good and the making present of God’s Kingdom,” he said. 

Fr. Gallagher and his coworkers at “Sí, da Vida” help people living with HIV-AIDS transform a very difficult, frightening condition into the deep soil of a new life. 

While the government provides the medication, “Sí, da Vida” helps address the realities and behaviors that led many to contract the disease. 

“We set out to empower people so that they may discover within themselves the ability to manage their lifestyle while living with HIV,” Fr. Gallagher said. 

Through support groups and the promotion of a regimen of medication, diet and exercise, people learn to manage their condition and not be defined by it. 

A key message is “response ability” — their ability to respond positively to their situation. 

“We give them the tools to respond,” he said. “We attempt to provide an education which teaches critical thinking and encourages the development of mature moral values.” 

In the process, Fr. Gallagher gets to see people grow in hope and love share with other people the joy of their new life.

Participants minister to each other and are encouraged to become active in their communities, promoting good health and addressing the circumstances that allow HIV-AIDS to thrive among the very poor. 

“When I see people who themselves live with HIV going out on HIV-prevention campaigns, I am overjoyed, and I know that God is in the work that we do,” he said. 

                                                                         Ambassadors of God’s love

The Diocesan Mission Collection also supports other projects in Peru, Mexico, India and Nigeria. 

In the mission fields, children are being fed, wells are being dug and churches are being built.

Elsewhere in Peru, Mercy Sister Millie McNamara runs the Mercy Clinic, which serves tens of thousands of poor people in the barrios where she lives. 

In the southern mountains of the country, Father Manuel Vassallo in the Caracoto and Father Manuel Caceres in Huatta and Coata provide sacrament service along with pastoral ministry that address both the rural poverty and the racism that denies justice to indigenous people such as the Quechua Indians. 

And in Pisco, the home of Rev. Mr. César Anicama, who hopes to be ordained a priest for this diocese next year, Father José Sánchez continues his work of almost 30 years among the poor. 

Fr. Gallagher, in closing his homily, assured his benefactors that they are helping the Church in Latin America become more merciful and effective in announcing the Good News to all people. 

“I ask you to continue to be generous and promise you that we will continue to be your faithful ambassadors and messengers of God’s love to others, especially the poor of Peru,” he said.

 

 

Two men from far away become transitional deacons for J.C. Diocese

Hope to be ordained to the priesthood next year 

 

By Jay Nies

Bishop John R. Gaydos recalled a reporter interviewing Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata when her Missionaries of Charity opened a convent in St. Louis in the 1970s.

“What are you coming to the ‘First World’ for?” the reporter asked. “Aren’t you supposed to be working with the poorest of the poor?”

“There’s a different kind of poverty sometimes,” Mother Teresa replied. “It can be worse than material poverty. It is a spiritual poverty.”

“So many people,” Bishop Gaydos observed, “are hungry for the meaning of self-sacrifice and love.” 

He linked Mother Teresa’s sacrifice to the missionary calling of two men — Rev. Mr. César Anicama from Peru and Rev. Mr. Simeon Etonu from Nigeria — whom he recently ordained as transitional deacons for the Jefferson City diocese. 

He said Mother Teresa was “a truly selfless person. She did beautiful things for God.”

Rev. Mr. Anicama’s diaconal ordination was celebrated in English and his native Spanish on May 17 in St. Clement Church in St. Clement, where he had spent some time and befriended several families shortly after arriving in the United States. 

Rev. Mr. Etonu’s ordination was celebrated on May 31 in Immaculate Conception Church in Jefferson City, where he resided before continuing his seminary formation in Missouri. 

Both deacons hope to be ordained priests of the Jefferson City diocese next spring.

 

                                                                            “Something beautiful” 

Rev. Mr. Anicama and Rev. Mr. Etonu both began their priestly formation in their home countries before deciding to serve as missionary priests in the United States. 

Rev. Mr. Anicama came to Missouri after hearing about missionaries from the Jefferson City diocese and in thanksgiving for help given to his home diocese of Ica, Peru, after a deadly earthquake and tsunami in 2007. 

Rev. Mr. Etonu was studying in Germany when he realized the need for priests is greater in Europe and the United States than in his home diocese of Idah, Nigeria. 

At both of their diaconal ordinations, Bishop Gaydos spoke of self-sacrificing service and love in imitation of Jesus.

That, the bishop said, is at the heart of being a deacon — an office both men will continue to hold forever, even after they are ordained priests.

“Jesus is begging us to take the focus off of ourselves, to try at least sometimes to achieve the greatness of putting others first,” Bishop Gaydos stated in his homily at Rev. Mr. Anicama’s Ordination Mass in St. Clement . “If we succeed, then we shall discover that in our own small way, we have done some beautiful things for God.”

 “There’s always cost involved in loving service,” the bishop noted in his homily at Rev. Mr. Etonu’s Ordination Mass in Jefferson City. “Jesus spoke simply in terms of service and its costs.

“It’s to be the hallmark of Christ’s disciples,” he continued, “that we will love without hope of profit or reward, that we will respect the intrinsic dignity and worth of others, no matter their position or power or wealth, to realize that God loves all unconditionally.”

Jesus was emphatic that true discipleship means sacrifice and service, even unto suffering and death, but He also promised “that this road leads to the glory of the resurrection.” 

Bishop Gaydos said Jesus showed His followers where true greatness can be found “not in striving to be the first but in being ready to be the last, not by being master but by being the servant, not by following selfish instincts but by being truly unselfish, putting ourselves at the service of the little people, the poor, the marginalized, the forgotten ones. 

“That’s the way we imitate the Lord, Who didn’t come to be served but to serve,” the bishop stated.

 

                                                                              Ministers of the Gospel

The bishop emphasized at both Masses that deacons are “consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes down to us from the apostles and as a result, they are bound more closely to the service of the altar, and it is in that way that they, through their performance of works of charity in the name of the bishop or the pastor, show the intimate connection between the sacramental life and our life in the world.”

He noted that the deacons will help their bishop and his priests “in the ministry of the word, the ministry of the altar, and of charity. They are to show themselves to be servants to all.”

They will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the altar for the sacrifice, and help distribute the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful. They will teach and encourage believers and non-believers in Church doctrine and will preside at public prayer. 

“With the help of God, they are to go about all these duties in such a way that all will see them as disciples of the One who came not to be served, but to serve,” the bishop said. 

He urged both men to lead by their example, becoming blameless in the sight of God, serving joyfully as if they were serving Jesus Himself. 

“From now on, you are not only hearers of the Gospel, you are also His ministers,” the bishop said. 

 

                                                                                    What now?

Rev. Mr. Etonu has been assigned to assist the pastor of Holy Family parish in Hannibal this summer. 

Rev. Mr. Anicama has been assigned to assist the pastoral administrator of St. Mary parish in Milan and St. Mary parish in Unionville. 

Both plan to begin their last year of formation at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis this fall. 

 

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Most Rev. John R. Gaydos, Bishop of Jefferson City