Recently I visited a Catholic family in Nairobi, Kenya. The father had not yet arrived home from work. The mother was cooking lunch. She told the young children to entertain the visiting priest.
After we chatted for a while, the 9-year-old daughter told me she was teaching her 3-year-old brother how to make the Sign of the Cross. The boy began by touching his chest, then his right side before his left side. His sister patiently took his hand and traced the correct steps. After many tries, the younger brother got it right. He clapped and said, “Amen.” His sister excitedly said, “Jimmy, you did it.” She ran into the kitchen shouting, “Mommy, Jimmy did it, Jimmy did it.” The mother dropped her towel and ran back into the living room. Jimmy made the Sign of the Cross by himself and Mommy gave him a big hug. We all clapped.
I am hopeful for the Catholic Church in the future. African Catholic families are taking responsibility for their religious education and passing on the Catholic faith from one generation to the next.
Joseph Healey, M.M.
This is the spirit of the resurrection: everyone coming together to combat the suffering of COVID-19 with acts of love.
Where I serve as a Maryknoll lay missioner in El Salvador, people have joined to install car washes to sanitize vehicles entering the communities. Churches, local governments, organizations and neighbors also go from house to house giving food to the elderly and families in need. They live out a message of hope.
Members of our youth program help deliver food baskets. Esaú, one of our soccer coaches, told me about visiting an elderly woman with no income. She told him she had already received a food donation and requested that he give her food basket to another family who had not gotten anything.
Esaú said, “The humblest people, who have almost nothing, share the little they have with so much love and an open heart.”
Larry Parr, MKLM
In Nairobi, I serve as a member of a peacebuilding team. We organize “Conversations for Social Change” for men and women from Kenya’s diverse ethnic and religious groups. One man’s story shows the importance of this work.
This man lived among neighbors of another tribe on a plot of land he had purchased. When ethnic conflicts flared in the region, he was brutally beaten and left to die. Treated at a hospital, he then went to live in an internally displaced people’s camp until relative calm returned.
Moving back home, he noticed that a neighbor had taken possession of one of his cows! Having learned how to speak up in our conversation groups, he very humbly and courageously asked the man how they could share the “fruit” of this cow.
“What I want is a good relationship with you,” he told his neighbor. “Now that this cow has a calf, you can choose to give me the calf and you remain with the mother, or you give me the mother and you keep the calf.” The neighbor responded that it would be good for the man to take the calf and he would keep the cow. It was arranged as simply as that. In fact, the aggrieved man thanked the other for looking after his cow during the time of violence.
Sia Temu, M.M.
Here in El Paso, Texas, I serve at Annunciation House’s longer-term migrant shelters. A Honduran mother and her two daughters, 10 and 12 years old, stayed with us at Casa Romero. When it was mealtime—and again after the meal—the mother would gather her girls together in a huddle to pray. When the day came for them to leave and to go to their sponsor, they asked us volunteers to pray with them. That moment, for me, was sacred. Here was this woman, so grateful for being welcomed. She felt secure and respected—and dignified because we treated her and her family like the special guests they were.
Coralis Salvador, MKLM
Photo credit: Sean Sprague/Kenya