The charity of works lends unmistakable efficacy to the charity of words, wrote Pope Saint John Paul II. Both these things, words and works, are the essence of mission. And it is particularly in the area of works that we can help.

Sometimes these works consist in enabling the presence of priests. The indigenous peoples of the diocese of Jinotega, in Nicaragua, have been waiting a whole year for a priest to come. But they can only be reached by water.

The priests of the diocese would be only too happy to undertake the boat journey, three or four times a year and bring the strength of the sacraments – and especially the Eucharist – to the waiting faithful of the Miskito and Mayangna peoples in their 31 villages. Indeed, as one of the missionaries, Father Cristobal Gadea observes, ‘Our mission is by no means a one-way street. We can learn a great deal from their deep, natural faith.’

But the old motor on their boat is getting increasingly unreliable, and maintaining it is becoming too expensive. They don’t have the money for a new motor, they barely have enough to afford to hire a boat. Bishop Carlos Enrique Gutierrez told us: 

‘We have sold the still usable parts of the old motor. We have two boats without motors, a small one and a large one, to suit the size of the team. Two new motors – a small one and a powerful one are needed as is financial help for fuel and spare parts…’

The bishop has a fervent devotion to the Mother of God. His letters have a printed motto at the foot of each page:

¡Quien Causa tanta alegría! …
¡La Inmaculada Concepción de María! (‘What causes such deep affection – Mary’s Immaculate Conception!’). 

We are only too happy to help, so that his priests can more often share the joy of the redemption with the Miskito and Mayangna peoples.

Sometimes the work of charity involves going out to the people and living alongside them. In Kajokeji, in South Sudan, three Comboni Sisters have spent several years carrying out missionary work, even in time of war, when it was particularly needed.

Their closeness to the people gave them comfort and showed the truth of their words. But the continuing warfare has forced the people to flee and destroyed the small mission outpost. So the Sisters have followed the refugees to Uganda. Here they have found temporary refuge with their fellow Comboni Sisters – but they are over 100 miles (170 km) from the refugee camps – too far away to be able to continue their work.

A modest house nearby with a water tank, solar panels and a gas cooker would cost more then they can afford. Such a  little house would help nurture the refugees’ faith. The Comboni Sisters have asked our help, so that they can be close to the people and – despite the circumstances – share the Joy of the Redemption with them. We have promised them the help they need, so that they can live closer to the refugees and bring the loving charity of God to them.

This article can be found in Mirror 0717.