‘There is nothing more beautiful in life than belonging for ever and wholeheartedly to God, and giving one’s life to the service of one’s brothers and sisters.’ So says Pope Francis. His words are a manifesto for us, a manifesto for mission. For mission means bringing God to others.

Beautiful and fulfilling though this work may be, it is not easy. Again and again it comes up against the barriers of nature and human limitation. In the prelature of Juli (Peru), at an altitude of almost 4,000 m (13,000 ft) in the Andes, over 80 small communities live and work. The priest can visit only every six or seven weeks. The roads are too steep, too long, too stony. But even here, at the ends of the earth, the Good News of Christ must be preached. Over half the homes here in the Peruvian Altiplano have no electricity or running water, and one person in four is illiterate.

If Father Percy Rojas Ballón was not there in person he could not proclaim the Word of God. He has to be physically present to celebrate Mass, administer the Sacraments, help with their social and practical problems. And he cannot do so without a tough, all-terrain vehicle. After 11 years his old jeep is on its last legs – to the point that he finds it less stressful to travel on foot. But then people be deprived of his frequent visits. And besides, a new vehicle would be of great use to the prelature in many other ways. The mission must keep moving forward… We have promised to help them acquire a new vehicle.

Mission means more than simply proclaiming the Gospel. It means bearing witness. ‘You are not only “teachers”; you are above all witnesses… [to] Christ in your own charism’, Pope Francis told missionaries last year. For the Daughters of Our Lady of the Most Sacred Heart in the Democratic Republic of Congo this means bearing witness to the infinite love of God through their lives and their work. Some 41 of them are doing just this in Mbandaka, in the northwest of the country, by caring for street children, single mothers and young girls, and orphans.

The ongoing warfare in the country, that has now lasted over 20 years, has torn many families apart, destroyed the schools and devastated the social support systems. There is no one but them to care for the lost and abandoned. But the convent where the Sisters live is around 10 miles (15 km) from their social and healthcare centre where they minister to the people. In urgent cases, sometimes they cannot get there in time. So they have started to build another branch of the convent, close to the centre. They need our help to continue the work and they will get it.

The wonderful witness to the love of God in the life and work of these sisters must be helped to continue.


This article can be found in Mirror 0716.