- Written by Thomas Varghese
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As the year 2020 comes to a close, I am thinking of all the blessings and support that you have extended to the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales in reaching out to the neediest people in our missions. You have incarnated Christ in and with your lives so that people could see him, touch him, and recognize him in you. The 2020 has been a year like no other. There are many reasons today to be afraid of and to live in despair. But no virus can have power over Jesus. At a time of pain and death, the event of Christmas allows us to lift our heads in hope in the birth of Jesus. This is the good news of great hope for us. Jesus is the light of the lockdown and hope of 2021.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Father Abraham VETTUVELIL, MSFS
Superior General &
President of the Ex. Board of MSFS Procura delle Missioni, Rome.
Caring for the Covid- Affected
Since first being recorded late last year in China, the coronavirus has spread around the world, and been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization that estimates that 10% of the global population is infected by this deadly virus. As per today (20.12.2020), there are 77,000,000 positive cases in the world and 1,700,00 people lost their lives. The poor are the most affected. Millions of people have lost their livelihood, children forced to remain home for months, churches and places of worship were shut down. Millions of people are stranded deprived of basic needs. The whole world is still searching for medical, political and economic solutions for this enormous problem which changed the history of the world... What seemed just a short time ago a fairly stable state of affairs, medically, politically, and economically, has been turned upside down—and we will likely be dealing with the virus and its impacts for months to come.
Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales, in all its provinces and mission unites in 32 countries support countless needy persons spiritually, materially and medically. Hundreds of confreres are actively engaged in offering regular spiritual and counselling services to the people by means of TV, Radio, social media and through their personal availability.
The Mission Development Offices of the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales situated in different provinces and mission units were quick to respond to this emergency situation to hastening to help the mass of persons who were left without basic necessities of life. We identified the families and groups who were adversely affected by the lockdown, especially the tribal indigenous people, migrant workers, parentless children and reaching out to them conducting health and awareness camps, distributing medical kits and sharing with them the provisions (rice, beans, oil, vegetables and other provisions) which can support for their livelihood during these days of social distancing, thus, giving hundreds of families a ray of hope. In 13 countries, spread across the continents of Africa, Asia and South America, we succeeded to reach out more than 180,000 families and more than ten of MSFS schools were used as quarantine facilities by the local governments. Most of these families are deprived of Government aid during this difficult time.
We thank God for empowering us to be with our suffering sisters and brothers in need.
We thank sincerely all our benefactors and well-wishers for your prayers and support.
Fr. Thomas Varghese, MSFS
Director, Procura delle Missioni/ MSFS Mission Development Office, Rome
FEST (Fransalian Education for Social Transformation)
AMISALES, with the help of our kind benefactors support more than 600 hundred poor and orphan children in their education, formation and holistic growth in India and Africa. The sponsors are requested to pay Euros 120 (for a primary school child) or Euros 200 (for a secondary school child) per year. We look for more supporters who are willing to sponsor more children in need.
A School for the Masai children in Kenya
Il Bissil is a rural trading centre situated along the main road from Nairobi to Namanga in Kenya. The majority of the inhabitants belong to the nomadic tribe of Masai. Our missionaries stay there since two years and since a few months we are engaged in the construction of a primary school for the Masai children. The literacy rate is very low and the Masai children prefer to go with their cattle from very early age than go to a school. There is also an acute shortage of good schools and trained teachers. It is in this context that we decided to build a good school there. The school needs to be functioning in February 2021. However, shortage of resources necessitated the stoppage of the construction activities. We are looking for donors who can cooperate with us in this noble work of educating the rural children.
Our new Mission in Indonesia
The Diocese of Larantuka is one of the dioceses in Flores Island, Indonesia a Muslim majority country in South East Asia. There are four dioceses in Flores Island: Diocese of Ruteng in west part of Flores, Archdiocese of Ende in middle part of Flores, Diocese of Maumere and Diocese of Larantuka are in the east part of Flores. Together with diocese of Denpasar in Bali combine one ecclesial province, namely the Ecclesial Province of Ende.
The diocese of Larantuka lies in the east part of Flores, comprising the eastern part of the island of Flores, and the adjacent islands solor, Adonara, Lembata lie between 122,35º - 123,57º Longitude and 7º-8,5º Latitude South. The area of the whole territory, including the seas, traits between the islands, is about 15.000 km².
Nature and Climate: The whole area of the territory consists of lands and seas. The whole land of these four islands (eastern part of Flores, Solor, Adonara, Lembata) are mountains and hills, very little is plain area. The soil is fertile. But the problem is lack of water. It is a dry land.
The people cultivate land as farmers. There is dry land farming, depends on the rain. When the rain is short and unstable, usually there is no harvest. They also make living by fishing, piggery, growing hens, vegetable cultivation, selling domestic products like bread and cakes. A few people have jobs like teachers and government servants.
Recently with the help of our benefactors our Mission Development Office in Rome supported our missionaries in Indonesia to buy a new car which they use for pastoral and human development ministries.
A new Church in the Bush, in Zandamela, Mozambique
St. Antony’s Parish, Mavila is situated in one of the remotest villages of the southern part of
Mozambique. The Parish has twenty eight village chapels covering an area of 90Kms. We (three priests) try to reach out to villages at least once in two months. The real situation of our villages is very pathetic. Lack of good roads, electricity, educational, medical, transport, good drinking water and other basic facilities, frequent attack of malaria and other sicknesses, lack of basic education for the large majority of the population that added to several social problems, make the life of the villagers miserable. Lack of medical facilities as well as malnutrition increases the death rate in the villages.
Reaching out to the villages on mud roads, having to work with people speaking different dialects, explaining the Catholic faith to them those who are very much rooted in traditional superstitious beliefs and worshiping of evil spirits, polygamy, poverty etc are some of the challenges in our pastoral ministry. Some of the villages have small huts as chapels to celebrate Holy Eucharist. However there are villages in which we celebrate Holy Eucharist under the mango trees including during rainy season and Zandamela is one of them. Though they are poor they are very receptive and want to hear about God. Although there are Christians, it is still a land of primary evangelization. There are many catechumens who are preparing each year to receive the sacraments in the Catholic Church. However, the Islam is spreading in almost all the villages. Those who are seeking to become Christians are among those who still practice traditional religions. Zandamela is 60km from St. Antony’s Parish, Mavila which is 105 km far from the nearest city. The number of Catholic faithful exceeds 1000. A good number of villagers remain faithful to Catholic Church for many years including a handful of faithful communicants. We celebrate the Mass under a tree. I remember that there are times during the Holy Mass the sacred host has been robbed by the wind. There are times due to heavy rain we had to stop the mass until the rain subsides.
Fr. Vineesh Thomas, MSFS in Mozambique
Covid 19 and Education
Educational outreach programme for the less fortunate tribal children in the villages of Bara Durgapur, in north India during the Covid 19 Pandemic.
The world has been experiencing a very dark time since the beginning of 2020, and it is still struggling to come out of it. As the entire world is facing the challenges caused by the Covid 19 pandemic, India is placed on the top of the list in terms of Covid 19 positive cases, deaths due to this deadly virus, economic crisis and poverty. The lockdown forced the skilled workmen to return to their home towns and the daily wage labourers to sit at home without any job. Hence the poor people, especially the children in most of the villages find it difficult to cope with the situation. In Urban areas, the School Children have the facility for online classes as they have gadgets, and network connectivity, T.V telecast facilities etc. In rural areas these facilities are only in dreams. So the majority of the children’s parents had made up their mind to stop educating their children due to the financial crisis and poverty in the families.
For the past two months we are organizing classes for the children under the trees in the villages, as there is no permission for teaching the children in the Schools, in spite of the fact that there is no Covid 19 positive cases in our Bara Durgapur Panchayath. We have taken this step to go to villages and teach the students, lest they fall behind in education or get deviated during this pandemic period. We have chosen 15 villages, where the students of 2 neighbouring villages can join every designated village. So out of the total 627 tribal children of our School who are from 58 villages, some 420 to 435 are attending the regular classes in the selected 15 villages. A team of animators that consists of 14 teachers, 9 and other staff members are engaged in “Classes under the Trees in the Villages”. Six teachers manage two village centres each. Most of the students were unable to continue with their studies as their parents could not meet the needs of their children for their studies like paying the nominal fee, buying copy books, text books, bags and other stationary items needed for the education. As we started helping them with the above necessities, the number of the children gradually increased in the groups. Thanks a million, to the MSFS MDO Rome for the timely financial help for this very important and valuable outreach programme to mould the less fortunate tribal children in the remotest villages.
Fr KV Joseph msfs, Bara Durgapur, Jharkhand, India
The World needs more Missionaries!: Missionary Sponsorship Programme
In some parts of the world, the Churches are being closed down and in some other areas there is a great need for priests to take care of the people of God. Our congregation is blessed with many vocations to religious and priestly life especially in Africa and Asia. Besides many minor seminaries and apostolic schools in different parts of the world, we have our own major seminaries in India and in Tanzania where we provide integral human and spiritual formation to candidates of priesthood. We have also major seminarians in Fribourg (Switzerland), in Cameroon, Philippines, Mozambique, and Ecuador. These centres of spiritual orientation and higher learning prepare our future priests to equip themselves to take up the ministries of the congregation in different parts of the world.
In many of our remote missions, (“frontier missions or missions in the periphery”) especially in Africa, the priests are greatly supported by catechists, both female and male. These devout women and women of deep faith and exemplary way of life teach catechism to the people in the deep villages and train them to receive the sacraments. We have centres to train such people to be effective co-workers in the mission of the Lord. The formation of priests and catechists require a lot of resources. In this context we are looking for people who can support us in the work of formation of would be priests and catechists with your valuable prayers and material support.
Mass Stipends support priests!
A Mass Stipend is a donation for the priest who celebrates holy masses for personal concerns of the donors, or for the deceased. A mass grant supports the priest and his pastoral activity. With your Mass stipends, you entrust your personal concerns or those of your loved ones to the Church service community, which carries them interceding before God.
The practice of making Mass offerings dates back to the early Church when the faithful brought bread and wine for the Mass and other gifts in support of the priests and the poor. Nowadays a monetary Mass offering called a Mass stipend is a way for the faithful to include a particular intention in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This offering unites the donor closely with the life and mission of the Church – the Body of Christ – as the offering becomes a form of material support to the Church’s ministers and their pastoral activities. The material gift not only provides the sustenance to the priest, it also expresses the donor’s gift of self to God. In most of the countries of the world, priests do not receive any or very little regular financial support.
We have hundreds of priests who work in the very remote areas of the world who GIVE more than what they receive. Therefore, availability of Mass-Stipends will be a great support for their life and ministry.
Capacity Building programmes for the confreres
In 2020 the MSFS Mission Development Office, Rome enabled ten confreres from our different missions to participate in a one-week intense training programme in Project Management and Fundraising. It was an International Training Programme organized by Claretian Fathers Rome and Mission Project Services USA. MDO Mozambique also organised a capacity building programme for the confreres in the delegation.
Finance Matters 2020
Thanks to the generosity of our friends, benefactors and well-wishers from different parts of the world, we succeeded to help many mission and humanitarian needs.
a. Relief Works for those affected by the pandemic
Indonesian Mission: € 7.000
Mozambique Delegation: € 3.000
Guwahati Province: € 8.330
Dibrugarh Province: € 6.000
South East Ind. Province: € 7.000
Nagpur Province: € 7.500 (+to support affected children)
Uganda, East Africa: € 4.500
Kenya, East Africa: € 2.000
Vizag Province: € 5.000
South West Ind. Province: € 10.000
Pune, Province: € 5.000
Covid Fund Total: € 65.330,00
b.Other Supports to the Missions:
Fransalian Education for Social Transformation (FEST): Student Sponsorship programme
Mozambique Delegation: € 2.400
South African Region: € 8.400
Kenya: € 2.200
Uganda: € 860
Tanzania: € 6.400
Zambia Mission: € 1.800
Student Sponsorship-Total: € 22.060,00
Water Project in Kenya: €7.500
School for the Masai People in Il Bissil, Kenya: €41.000
Vehicle for the Mission in Indonesia: €7.000
Grand Total: €142.890,00
Word of Thanks:
Besides these monetary contributions, the Mission Development Office of our congregation situated in Rome functions also as a fiscal agent (a mediator between the regional MDOs and international funding agencies). In this way, MDO Rome has contributed a lot to empower our local MDOs to work more efficiently in matters of mission animation and project management. Almost all our provinces and missions are already having MDO units and working well. I sincerely thank all our regional MDO directors who are working hard in their respective areas. I thank all the confreres, friends, and benefactors who support us with their prayers, encouragement and material support. I thank also the Executive Board of MSFS MDO Rome: Rev. Fr. Abraham Vettuvelil (President), Fr. Yves Carron (member), Fr. J. Stephan (member), and Fr. Jose Cheriyanthara (member).
St. Francis de Sales, our heavenly patron speaks of the importance of having genuine friends (IDL, III, Ch.19). He also says that the foundation of genuine friendship is communication. The quality of our friendships depends on the quality of the matter of our communication. Let us communicate goodness. Let us communicate our mission. Thus we can have more good friends who can love our missions! The world is increasingly in need of our support. Pope Francis calls upon all of us to support one another and create a world of true fraternity. Today, now, God gives us an opportunity to reflect on a way in which we can come out of our little world of narrow excuses, to make little sacrifices to heed the cry of the vulnerable folk around and respond promptly.
May our Emmanuel (God-with-us), the light of the World, remove the darkness in the world and within ourselves!
I wish you a Happy Christmas and a New Year with a lot of blessings!
Fr. Thomas Varghese, MSFS
Director, MSFS Mission Development Office/Procura delle Missioni
Via del Mascherino 46/2
00193 Roma, Italia
Date for Bank Transfer
Name of the Bank: Postel Impresa
Address of the Bank: Via delle Grazie 8
SWIFT Code: BPPIITRRXXX
Account Number/ IBAN: IT 38X076 01032 0000000 8596 744
Name of the Account Holder: Associazone Missionaria di Sales Onlus
Address of the Account Holder: Associazone Missionaria di Sales Onlus
Via del Mascherino 46/2
00193 Roma, Italia