Christmas letters from the missions
Jan 27, 2017
"Flight into Egypt" image from Archbishop Michael Blume SVD was included in his Christmas greeting from Uganda.
At Christmas time, both our inbox and mailbox fills with Christmas cards and letters from our Divine Word Missionaries living and serving in all corners of the world. In addition to the lovely sentiments of peace and the joy of Christmas shared with us at the Mission Center, many missionaries give us an update on how things are going in the mission and in the country where they are serving. Here are a few updates for you from Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Ghana, and Uganda.
American born, Chicago native, Divine Word Missionary Fr. Larry Nemer SVD, the founder and President of the Australian Association of Mission Studies, shares this:
On Christmas Eve, I will be going to St. Scholastica’s Parish to attend the Children’s Pageant followed by the Children’s Mass. The parish priest has kindly invited me to concelebrate and preach at the Mass. I love preaching the Christmas message.
After Mass I will be going to my friends Kathy and David’s home for a typical Polish Christmas Eve meal (Oplatek—(unleavened bread), fish pierogi—Polish ravioli stuffed with vegetables, and Polish rye bread).
On Christmas Day we will celebrate together as an [SVD] community at lunch. We have 11 seminarians in the community—2 from Ghana, 2 from Madagascar, 2 from Indonesia, 3 from Vietnam, 1 from Laos, and 1 from Mexico (who is providing a piñata for the Community!).
Dubuque, Iowa native, Fr. Nicholas Strawn SVD, who has been serving Divine Word Missionaries in Indonesia for 53 years says this:
Every day in our lives we experience God’s Love. After being here in Indonesia for 53 years there was NO problem for renewal of my permanent residency. On top of this, here in the Diocese, there are only TWO foreign missionaries left. However, for your information, here on the island of Lembata, there are 38 local Diocesan priests taking care of 15 parishes. This means our SVD missionaries have been successful.
“CHICAGO CUBS” “WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS”. This year for the first time I was able to watch the WORLD SERIES on T.V. All the games came thru very clearly. And I rooted for the CUBS all the way. My brother Paul always told me that nobody alive has ever seen the CUBS win a WORLD SERIES—108 years. Lo and behold Paul and myself made it. The final game was a real THRILLER.
So once again a very “JOYFUL CHRISTMAS” and a “BLESSED NEW YEAR”.
Fr. Nicholas Strawn SVD included this photo of him in his Christmas correspondence from Indonesia.
German-born, Fr. Reiner Franke SVD, former procurator of the Divine Word Missionaries Major Seminary in Davao City (St. Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary (REMASE) shared this good news from the Philippines:
As you might know, I retired from my job as procurator of the seminary 18 months ago but my letter still deals a lot with the seminary where I have worked for 36 years and where I still spend a lot of time. Actually, I am not too unhappy about it because I am not yet ready to retire completely.
In June a new school year started with a total of 150 seminarians, more than we have had in some years. It seems that the trend of decreasing numbers of priestly vocations has not yet started here.
At the end of June, I went to Germany for my regular furlough. Except for my medical check-ups and some visits to relatives and friends I spent most of the time with my sister in Essen.
We cannot change the course of world history but we can promote peace and good will in the small world around us, in our families, circle of friends and in our neighborhood. It is my wish that all of us succeed in doing this during this Christmas Season in the New Year 2017.
The Provincial Treasurer of Ghana, Minnesotan native Fr. Frederick Timp SVD’s Christmas letter shares some great insight on Ghana for us here:
Greetings from Ghana. As I write this I am celebrating my forty-fifth anniversary of ordination. The years have gone by quickly and for the most part, enjoyable. I have enjoyed almost everything I have done or been involved in during these years.
This year we haven’t had any major disaster in Ghana, thank God, and things have been fairly peaceful. We had elections for a new president, which were largely peaceful. The rains were also fairly good, though they started late. From what I hear, the harvest has been good. Our electricity situation has improved, power cuts are now uncommon. It looks like God has blessed us.
May God also bless you, especially during this Christmas season. May you have a wonderful celebration of the Birth of Our Lord with family, friends and loved ones.
Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, Archbishop Michael Blume SVD shared this Christmas message:
In this Christmas time, the refugee child Jesus reveals himself among us as Uganda continues to welcome thousands of refugees entering both from its northern and southern borders. We recall the words of Pope Francis and ask your prayer that we may take them to heart:
“Now is the time to unleash the creativity of mercy, to bring about new undertakings, the fruit of grace. … In our own day … throngs of people continue to migrate from one country to another in search of food, work, shelter, and peace. … Mercy impels us to roll up our sleeves and set about restoring dignity to millions of people; they are our brothers and sisters who, with us, are called to build a ’city which is reliable’.”
Misericordia et Misera, 18
With prayerful best wishes for a Joyful Christmas and Blessed New Year.