Already this month we have celebrated the feast days of two extraordinary missionaries: St Therese of Lisieux, a contemplative nun who spent her life in prayer and heroic personal sacrifice for mission and is now patron of the Missions (Oct 1) and, St Francis of Assisi (Oct 4) who responded wholeheartedly to the Lord’s call to “go rebuild my Church, for as you see it is falling into ruin!”
“October is an opportunity for us to give particular attention to the work of mission by building a church of living stones, communities who witness to the mercy and unconditional love of God for all people and for all of creation!,” says Catholic Mission Diocesan Director Mr Mark Toohey.
This year World Mission Month in October focuses on the essential work of priests, religious and lay missionaries in Cambodia, supporting people with disability and their families. The Catholic Mission Annual Church appeal for Cambodia will be held in parishes across our Diocese on World Mission Sunday 18th October.
The Arrupe Centre and Outreach Program, run by Bishop Enrique “Kike” Figaredo Alvargonzalez in the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang in the north-west Cambodia is just one example of how the Church is empowering children and young adults with disability.
Mr Toohey had the privilege to visit the Arrupe Centre in 2016, meeting Bishop Kike (known affectionately as ‘Bishop of the Wheelchairs’ and many of the children whose lives have been transformed by the work of the centre. “People who support the work of Catholic Mission through their prayer and generosity are themselves missionary” said Mr Toohey, “helping to spread the joy of the Gospel, through service to people who are often very marginalised and vulnerable.”
Bishop Kike’s approach to the vital work carried out at the Arrupe Centre is guided by his clear sense of mission. “We are here for the common good… and to bring the joy of life everywhere… with hope and joy and happiness,” he says.“We are giving back dignity to these children”.
Dara was just 11 years old when he lost his hand and most of his eyesight after finding an unexploded landmine on his family farm. But thanks to the Arrupe Centre, and Catholic Mission supporters with their prayers and generosity, Dara has received practical support and healthcare to help continue his education.
Giving support to people like Chen. He was just 16 years old when he lost both of his legs in a landmine accident near his home. “Fearing that he would not be able to continue his education or help his family, Chen was grateful that Bishop Kike reached out to him in his time of need,” says Mr Toohey. “Chen not only finished high school but continued into university study and gainful employment.”
Chen gives testament to the work carried out by the Arrupe Centre and sums it up perfectly; “It is like I have a new life!”
About Catholic Mission
Catholic Mission is the Australian agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies – the Catholic Church’s global organisation dedicated to continuing Jesus Christ’s mission in the world: that all may have life to the full. Founded in Sydney in 1847, Catholic Mission contributes funding and project support to critical church-run initiatives in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and South America. These include spiritual formation, pastoral care, education, health, sanitation and agricultural programs. Here in Australia, we form people to go out and be missionary in their professional and personal lives; to pray, advocate and take action for those on the margins.
You can help Catholic Mission support people with disability and their families. Visit www.catholicmission/cambodia for more information.