Our “Missions” are first and foremost the houses where our members live around the world, some for men and some for women. We believe that our permanent presence in remote places where marginalized communities live is what can ultimately bring about positive changes to their situation. To build real trust among people of different cultures and backgrounds takes a long time, and we missionaries are prepared to invest the whole of our lives in achieving precisely this. On the other hand it is crucial for us to enjoy healthy friendships and prayer together, as the true inspiration of our work for others. Without this ongoing support it is very difficult to deliver anything worthwhile. “Where two or three gather together in my name, I shall be there among them” Mt 18:20 “Whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father” Mt 6:6
Our Missions are also the logistical bases required to carry out development projects in the areas assigned to us. We need stores for food and building materials; garages where vehicles can be repaired; plumbing and masonry departments for maintenance works; tree nurseries and seedbeds from which to spread suitable species to be planted in other population centres; office administration facilities; libraries and so on. When you live in far-off places, you need to create the appropriate infrastructure to guarantee the continuity of the initiatives undertaken. “The rain fell the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock” Mt 7:25
Our Missions are also “Faith Hospitals” where all kinds of people find shelter, food and spiritual nourishment. We welcome people from the vicinity and from overseas who want to spend time with us, people who are wounded, distressed or discouraged by whatever causes. Hospitality is one of the things we can offer as missionaries: “I was hungry and you gave me food… naked and you clothed me… sick and you visited me…” Mt 25:35
Kenya, Nariokotome Mission
In 1993, Mons. John C. Mahon, the then Bishop of Lodwar, established a new mission at Nariokotome, some 30 kms south of Loarengak, half way between the lake and the mountains, because abundant water was found on that spot. This mission was entrusted to an initial team of three priests of the MCSPA, in order to cater for the pastoral and human needs of the entire territory of Loarengak parish. In January 2003, the second Bishop of Lodwar, Rt. Rev. Patrick J. Harrington, established Nariokotome Mission as an independent mission territory, separating it from the former parish of Loarengak, which has remained a parish of its own with a smaller territory. Nariokotome Mission still comprises some 3,600 sq. km with about 35,000 people in that area, and is to serve as a centre for first evangelization. Nariokotome mission is also the Mother House of the MCSPA worldwide. The mission is the centre of a wide pastoral and development activity, such as rock catchments and earth dams to store rain water, drilling of boreholes and wells, the distribution of fishing nets and boats for fishing communities by the lake shore, women promotion projects in the fields of handicrafts and an integrated health program which includes 4 permanent dispensaries and a mobile clinic unit to see to the nomadic population at 24 different sites. Education and nutrition is also a very important part of the mission caring for 7 Mother and Child Centres for children between 4 to 6 years around the mission territory and a pre-primary school within the mission.
Members of MCSPA have been working at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Todonyang since 2006 when this mission was reopened. The aims of its establishment were to extend evangelical work to pastoralist communities in Todonyang and promote peace through making contacts and facilitating interaction between the Turkana and Dassanech who are involved in an armed conflict. This would be achieved through initiating projects that bring the two communities together in hope of embracing peace. In Todonyang we are involved in “preparing the way of the Lord and making straight his path in order to bring in the salvation of God to his people” (Luke 3:4b-6).
The remote origins go back to 27th December 2001, when some members of the MCSPA were heading out to meet a group of elders at the dry river bed of Meyen, 12 km north of Kokuro. In passing they saw, along the cliffs of the Kacheriangor range of mountains, a shinning set of greyish rocks: the sign of water! They climbed the escarpment and discovered a small but deep “ebur” (pool) among the rocks. Overlooking the horizon from that spot, in full view of the Ethiopian border, they agreed that this would be an ideal place for the establishment of a new mission station within the Elemi Triangle, in order to reach out to the nomads all the way to Kibish, 85 km further north.
Since then the missionaries spent 4 years camping on the cliff, building 6 rock-dams and drilling several boreholes. With the confirmation of the availability of water in plenty in the area, they constructed the first mission house in 2005. A pilgrimage march with 300 people made its way from Lokitaung along the 74 km track to Lobur on 25th December 2005; they marched for peace, unarmed. Along the way there were baptisms, songs and dances in several villages. On arrival at Lobur on the 27th of December, there were more baptisms, the blessing of a statue of Saint John that presides the mission’s entrance today, and the spearing of a bull to signify the covenant between the nomads and missionaries, who shared the meal together.
Kokuselei Mission is an outstation of Nariokotome Catholic Mission. The missionary presence in this area started in 1998 as an outreach of the health program and the pastoral activities of Nariokotome Mission to the nomadic communities of this remote area. In the following years, several programs such as the construction of a dispensary, formation in animal heath care, beginning of plantations, etc. were implemented and hence the mission compound was slowly being developed.
The permanent presence started in 2008 with a group of women members of the MCSPA. The objective of this presence was to increase the coverage area of the MCSPA and to be able to reach new, unattended areas.
Ethiopia - Muketurri
In May 2008 the “Saint Joseph Mother and Child Center” was inaugurated at Muketuri, where 300 children from 4 to 6 years old and 6 children with different mental and physical disabilities are receiving two meals a day and an education in English. In September 2009 a Nutritional Unit was opened at Mechela Andode, where 90 children, between 2 and 6 years, attend from Monday to Friday. Just as at Muketuri, these children receive two nutritious meals per day, medical care and reading and writing lessons in Amharic, English and Orominya. At each one of the centers – Muketuri and Mechela Andode – there is a vegetable garden where all the vegetables that the children consume every day are produced. As part of this integral program the mothers of the children, in groups of 30 women, have the opportunity to learn how to grow their own vegetable gardens in their homes by attending an Agricultural Training Program and Nutrition taught at the two centers for periods of three months.
In Ethiopia, MCSPA was established in 1993, in Angar Guten Valley, Wollega Region, 400 km to the west of Addis Ababa. The presence of the MCSPA in Ethiopia began in response to the petition of the Bishop of the Vicariate of Nekemte, the late Monsignor Fikre Mariam. In this area, the MCSPA implemented a comprehensive program for development at Angar Guten. Currently, this comprises of 3 health posts (Angar Clinic, Andode Health Post and Fite Bako Health Post), three nurseries (at Guten, Gida and Andode), agricultural activities and water resource development.
Ethiopia, Mizen Teferi
The presence of the Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle (MCSPA) in Jima-Bonga Apostolic Vicariate dates back to the year 2000, when Msgr. Silvano Tomasi, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ethiopia at the time, asked the founder of MCSPA, Fr. Francisco Andreo, to open a mission in the south-western part of Ethiopia, in order to connect with MCSPA’s missions in the north of Kenya. In January 2001, the Apostolic Prefect, Fr. Theodros Van Ruyven, asked the MCSPA to start a new project in the then Apostolic Prefecture of Jimma-Bonga. Since then the MCSPA has worked in the vicariate carrying out different development projects, the most significant one being the Saint Joseph’s Mother and Child Centre at Mizan Teferi which caters to 180 children, a nutritional unit at Gacheb attending to 70 children, and a small-scale farm project for families linked with the digging of shallow wells at each farm.
The Nyangatom mission is a first evangelization initiative of the Diocese of Lodwar (Kenya) in collaboration with the neighbouring Apostolic Vicariate of Jimma-Bonga (Ethiopia) to reach out to unattended pastoralist communities that live in the southern part of Jimma-Bonga Vicariate, such as the Nyangatom and Surma peoples. Due to the remoteness, inaccessibility and insecurity of this vast region, pastoralist communities have remained marginalised and excluded from any kind of human development up to the present time. Both the local authorities and the elders of these communities have asked the Catholic Church for help to improve the living standards of the inhabitants of the region. The Missionary Community of St. Paul the Apostle (MCSPA) has accepted the challenge of establishing a presence of the Catholic Church among these peoples, by sending two priests who are trying to do just that.
Since 2013 personnel of the Diocese of Lodwar, who are also members of the Missionary Community of Saint Paul started a new parish in Benga, Archdiocese of Lilongwe.
During the past two years a number of activities were implemented. One of the main activities has been the building of the parish centre as a base to do pastoral and development work. The permanent personnel working at the parish use these buildings. The pastoral work is the core activity of the parish though it is balanced with development initiatives to improve the living standards of the inhabitants of the area.
South Sudan, Yubu (Ave Maria Mission)
Fr. Joseph Githinji, member of the MCSPA has been a missionary in the Catholic Diocese of Tombura Yambio in South Sudan from December 2008, when was ordained priest there. Since then, first in Mupoi Parish and currently in Ave Maria Catholic Mission in Source Yubu, Fr. Joseph has been the only permanent member living and working in the area. However, during periods of time every year a team of priests and young men from the community come to support the pastoral and development work. Yubu mission was founded by Comboni Missionaries in 1922 and after the continued wars, people run for exile, and the mission was left without any priests, apart from one catechist. It was only in recent years that the faithful came back from exile, and with the help of the MCSPA team we have been able to start rebuilding the mission and started providing physical and spiritual support to the people.
Philippines, Metro Manila
In early 2012, members of the MCSPA first came to the Philippines to investigate the possibility of carrying out further studies there. Finally in June 2012, a priest and several collaborators, and later in 2014 another priest and several other collaborators went there to study at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) to pursue their studies in Philosophy, Canon Law and Educational Management and Leadership. The collaborators also enrolled for Spanish classes.
Since 2013, remedial classes were held by the collaborators to assist children from a poor neighbourhood of Loyola Heights, with special emphasis on English and Mathematics. The priests have been assisting with the pastoral work of the local parish (Our Lady of Pentecost). Mission animation work is also done with individuals and groups in and around Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines.