Return To Esso – Elaine Hogan

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Return to Esso – Elaine Hogan

I returned to Tanzania in January to visit Esso – a parish run by the Pallottine Fathers – where I had lived before for over a year, and also to visit Malambo in the Ngorongoro conservation area where Fr. Mike O’Sullivan, a Pallottine Father from Co. Kerry, is now ministering to the Maasai tribe.


re4Esso is as vibrant as ever. I visited all the various “Pallotti projects” which have been set up over the past eight years and I am delighted to say that they are all thriving. The computer classroom was filled with new students, and being taught by Tanzanian teachers. The primary school now occupies six rooms in the Resource Centre. The Faraja (Joy) centre for children and adults with disabilities was being looked after by a young Tanzanian occupational therapist while Clare, the Irish lady who set it up, was home on holiday. The sports hall was packed with teenagers every afternoon and the buzz of activity around “Pallotti” is still there. The local people are now taking leadership of the projects themselves.

re6The new Church, built to hold 1,400 people, will be handed over to the parish for the Easter services… a credit to the locals who provided a lot of the cost through their weekly contributions. What a success story for all involved!
Fr. Noel O’Connor asked me to visit a family on his behalf to find out how they are getting on. There are seven children in the family and Fr. Noel is trying to support them by raising funds to send them to school. They lived in the changing rooms on a football field in Esso for a long time, but now they have a small plot of land in another parish and live in a wooden house – with absolutely no flooring, just mud – and the interior dividing walls are made from sheets of cardboard. They are gradually buying materials to build a brick house. The children are all doing very well in school. Their father is now working on a building site and the eldest son has found work installing solar panels. They are very happy and healthy, and each one proudly recorded a video greeting in English for me to show to Fr. Noel when I got home. I visited Fr. Mike in Malambo, an outstation of Loliondo parish. There are several outstations all around the hills and mountains of Malambo, which Fr. Mike tries to visit as often as possible. The landscape is outstanding and the peace and quiet was astounding! Fr. Mike says Malambo is “Africa’s best kept secret”.

re1One Sunday, Fr. Mike said Mass in Piaya. In this rural area the community only sees a priest two or three times a year. There are no tarmac roads and it is a three-hour drive away. In Piaya we visited the home of the parish chairman who had died tragically two weeks previously (Christmas week) leaving nine children behind, the youngest being only two years old.

When we arrived, his widow welcomed us and had already prepared refreshments. She was a truly beautiful lady and an inspiration. Her attitude was to get on with things for the sake of her children. There were a lot of other children around that day and also a catechist who had been in Piaya to prepare them for the sacraments. Fr. Mike heard confessions before Mass; and during Mass there were baptisms, first communions and confirmations.

After the long Mass, we were invited back to the house where a feast had been prepared for everyone in celebration of all the sacraments received that day. On the journey home we were joined by an old Maasai man and two young boys. There are only a handful of cars in the area, so if there is the opportunity of a lift somewhere, the people will take it. The boys were on their way to a government-run boarding school for hundreds of Maasai children, and without a lift they would have to walk for two days through wide open land with lots of wild animals. re2

The school year begins in January, so driving around the area at that time we saw children either running after a car asking for a lift, or running in the other direction if they thought it was a government car sent to take them to school! But some parents don’t send their children to school as they are needed at home to look after the cattle.
On that Sunday, our youngest passenger, who was about eight years old, had car sickness… and there was nothing we could do only keep on driving; we were in the middle of nowhere. Fr. Mike had arranged a meeting at another outstation on the way home as he was planning a seminar and wanted to personally invite the young people. While the meeting took place under a tree with the men of the village, the women took the sick little boy and washed him and his clothes, and by the time we left a half an hour later, the car was clean, the child was clean, his clothes were dry and the women had wrapped a plastic sick bag around his ears before allowing him back into the car again, the poor little guy!

We returned to the same village later in the week for their first catechism class. It had rained the night before, so the people who had requested the classes were out in the fields looking after their crops. We waited around for them for over an hour (no hurry in Africa). In their first class they learned how to make the sign of the cross. Then Fr. Mike spoke to the surprisingly large gathering of men, women and children.

He held up a bottle of water and explained how it would be blessed and then he would sprinkle it over them and they would be blessed. The sign of the cross and holy water: two things I take for granted every day, these people were only learning now, in the year 2014! Fr. Mike told them that he would be back again soon to bless their houses (mud huts) and their animals, and they were very happy. An elderly woman jokingly asked if she could attend the seminar for the youth: she must have been eighty years old… and she was only just learning how to make the sign of the cross! One day in Malambo we visited a woman Fr. Mike had met a few times before. She had been working in the field one day when a dust storm came and lifted her into the air with such force that when she landed she was paralysed. Now she was sitting outside on a bucket in the shade with her three toddlers playing beside her. Fr. Mike said it was the first time he had seen her sitting; she was usually in so much pain she had to lie flat on the ground. There was also a very beautiful, quiet and shy teenage girl. They all lived in a tiny mud hut, but a strong wind had blown the roof off it. Fr. Mike told her that he was making arrangements to build a small two-bedroomed house for her and her family – it would be made from brick and would have windows and doors. (At a cost of about one thousand Euro). The woman was stunned by this news: she was speechless. As we walked away Fr. Mike said “If anyone deserves a break in life, it’s that woman”.

re5I must mention the child who was born while I was there – whose father I had met a few days before he had died of cancer a week earlier and whose mother had died as she gave birth to him. That little boy will be raised by his relations now and I have no doubt he will be happy, but I can’t help but feel sad for him.

I could write a hundred stories about how difficult life is for the people, but I would also have to say how unbelievably happy they are despite all the hardships and poverty they face every day. And I have to take this opportunity to say a sincere “Thank You” to all who have donated towards the work of the Pallottines in Tanzania. Your donations really do go a very long way.

“Ensuring the Safety of Children” – Message from the Provincial

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“Ensuring the Safety of Children”

 A Message from the Provincial

To all Pallottine confreres, associates, members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate[1], collaborators and friends of the Mother of Divine Love Province.

Safeguarding Children, to whom Jesus Christ referred when he said “anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me”[2], is our primary responsibility and principal concern. The disclosures of child sexual abuse by members of the clergy and by religious have caused great hurt, sadness and disillusionment in the Church. As members of the Church we are called together with all who minister to children to provide assurance and to demonstrate that children are safe in the Church.

We are a missionary Society of Apostolic Life in the Catholic Church and as such are members of the IMU (the Irish Missionary Union) and of CORI (the Conference of Religious in Ireland). With the bishops of Ireland, representing all the Dioceses, the IMU and CORI are signatories to the child protection document ‘Safeguarding Children’ which details the policies and procedures for the Catholic Church in Ireland in regard to the protection and well-being of children.

We, the members of the Mother of Divine Love Province of the Pallottines, a Society of Apostolic Life, are a community of priests and brothers who endeavour to revive the faith of the entire People of God and re-enkindle charity and to spread these virtues throughout the world. Our common vocation engages us in a particular commitment to awakening and deepening in all people an awareness of their vocation to cooperate in the apostolic work of Jesus Christ in the Church and in the world. Our SAC Law states in article 3 that in order to live our objectives “our Society will use whatever means are appropriate to promote, defend and nourish Christian life.”

In accordance with the stated aim this present document, “Safeguarding Children, Society of the Catholic Apostolate, Pallottine Fathers and Brothers, Irish Province” presents our Policy with regard to Safeguarding Children and provides clear guidelines and procedures to be implemented and followed in living out the ministry entrusted to our Province. Our Founder, St. Vincent Pallotti, advocated the sacred nature of each and every life quoting, on countless occasions, Genesis 1, 26, where it is affirmed that God made man and woman in his own image and likeness and from this act of creation the sacred nature of all life is affirmed. Therefore we are obliged to promote, defend and nourish life in all its stages and phases and to do so imbued with the spirit and teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Apostle of the Eternal Father.

Each and every contravention against the integrity and well-being of children is an affront to their God-given dignity and is to be avoided. It is particularly damaging if such contraventions are caused or enacted by members of our Province who are men consecrated to God and to the following of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. It is similarly reprehensible if such contraventions are caused or enacted by persons who are in our employment, are our collaborators or voluntarily join in our apostolic endeavours.

While reaffirming the motto of our Society that it is “the love of Christ which impels us” to live and work as Pallottines, and embracing anew the fundamental rule of life which our founder, St. Vincent Pallotti, identified as ours, namely “The members wish to live this vocation fully: by their determination to follow Jesus Christ in the Society; by making his hidden and public life, even to death on the cross, the fundamental rule of their lives…” (Law of the SAC 12), this document on Safeguarding Children is an integral part of our lives and ministry as Pallottines.

I request that

  • the members of the Province study and familiarize themselves with all aspects of the document and ensure that it is observed and enforced;
  • that it is used to give informed awareness and concern for child protection issues wherever you work and minister;
  • it be implemented fully and diligently by each and every one of you.

As Provincial Rector of the Irish Province and on behalf of the Provincial Council, I approve, adopt and sign this policy document of procedures and guidelines thereby establishing them as normative and effective from this 21st of May 2013.

 

Fr. Jeremiah Murphy, SAC.

Provincial Rector.

Click HERE  to read the complete SAFEGUARDIING CHILDREN PROTECTION POLICY AND PROCEDURES