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At the beginning of June, we received a visit from a few members of a group we have been sponsoring for a few years, SOPAR.
This organization has several objectives:
* access to drinking water in about 100 villages in India to dig wells and purify water (which contains a lot of fluoride);
* The development of Indian women, especially the poorest and widows, to give them a voice and help them regain more autonomy. These women take care of orphans and elderly people in their village, among others.
* For several years now, an international training centre has been involved with people and groups of other nationalities to share their knowledge and ways of doing things.
As a MFIC community, this is very much in line with our priorities: environmental quality and humanitarian aid for women and children.
Sr Francine Paré
Read more about SOPAR on: www.sopar-balavikasa.org
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Reflection on my ministry at the Social Apostolate of Savannah
For seven years (2011-2018) it was my great joy to be the director of the Social Apostolate of Savannah, GA. During my years there, I clearly knew that I stood on the shoulders of the great people, Franciscan Sisters and lay, who came before me. Our focus on the mission to the clients (the homeless and struggling people of the Savannah area) guided us - helping them today, and providing them with what they’d need to move forward in their lives tomorrow. We serve over 4,000 clients each year with a wide variety of services: a thrift store, soup kitchen, showers for the homeless, and a wonderful food pantry. We also provided services aimed at empowering people: a Vital Documents Program, School Uniforms, Employment Support Services that would help clients begin a new job, and a listening, non-judgmental ear.
Matthew’s gospel (Chapter 25:45) inspired us: “Whatsoever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” It was a privilege to work with staff and volunteers who believed and lived that conviction! The clients taught me so much about what really matters in life. They were the most grateful people I have ever met! They helped me realize more deeply how blessed I have been in my own life.
In April, 2018 I was elected to the leadership team of my community in the USA. This required me to resign a position I loved and move to Massachusetts. I am at peace, knowing that the new director, Ms. Latacia Avila, who was assistant director for 11 ½ years, is the perfect person to lead this agency, as it observes its 50th anniversary in 2018. As a missionary, our role is to hand over the mission to lay leaders. For 50 years the Missionary Franciscan Sisters led the Social Apostolate. I know God will continue to accompany Latacia and all the staff and volunteers, and that the Social Apostolate will continue its service to the most needy well into the future.
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The majority of our sisters in Canada are no longer to physically participate in ministry to the poor and marginalized. However, as a Governance Circle they Sisters in Canada continue to support ministry to the poor and marginalized.
SOPAR is one of the organizations that the Canadian Governance Circle has supported financially for several years. Among the many projects of this association, two of them overlap our priorities as FMIC.
The first project concerns women whose spouses die. In India, these widows become outcasts, the ones that attract bad luck. Often denied by their families, they end up on the street, sometimes with children and without any resources ! SOPAR employees, in collaboration with many Aboriginal religious communities, support these women by setting up workshops where they first learn to write, as most of them are illiterate; they are also helped to develop their talents, think about a source of income and develop their self-confidence. Sewing workshops, maintenance of small gardens whose products they can sell, these are some of the activities that will enable them to become more independent and send their children to school...
Another project also caught our attention: promoting access to drinking water. Often, part of the day for these women is spent getting water. SOPAR staff help build wells in small villages and teach villagers how to maintain them. This year, 61 wells, 88 water purification systems and 5 tanks were built. What is interesting about this project is the commitment of the whole village to take care of this essential resource and the possibility of replacing some parts that break.
These projects for the rehabilitation of marginalized people and also for concrete commitment on the ground are in line with our priorities and give rise to a new Hope! Thus, the Kingdom is built, day after day...
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The women of Papua New Guinea (PNG) endure some of the most extreme levels of violence in the world. They continue to be attacked with impunity despite their government’s promises of justice. The situation has been described as a humanitarian disaster yet still does not receive the broader public attention it deserves, inside or outside PNG. It is also a significant obstacle to PNG’s development and prosperity.
Our sisters provide shelter and support for the women of Papua New Guinea in their area.
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The Social Apostolate in Savannah has been reaching out to and trying to empower people who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness since 1968 under the guidance of the Missionary Franciscan Sisters. The center provides a wide variety of services. One of their goals always is to fill the gaps in services that prevent someone from moving forward on the path to self-sufficiency. To accomplish this goal one of our most successful programs has been the Birth Certificate/ID Program. Clients are hleped by processing the paperwork and paying all fees, thus providing them with documents they need to find employment and apply for many other services and programs.
The team at the Social Apostolate believes that as they serve each client they are serving Jesus. (Matthew 25:40 “whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”).Because of this belief each client is treated with the respect they deserve as a child of God.
St. Clare's Center and Neighbors in Need, sponsored by St. Teresa Church, Albany, GA
Sisters Maura Molloy, MFIC and Alphonsina Molloy,MFIC
Catholic Social Services of Augusta
Director, Sr. Janet Roddy, MFIC
St. Francis Center- CSS
Sr. Nuala Mulleady MFIC, Director