Last January, we had two lay missionaries participate in our Spring Mission Experience 2020 formation program taught by our lead missionary Tricia Bolle and other members of our ministry team, which include Dominican friars of the Western Dominican Province. Due to the outbreak of Covid in the principal regions that we serve in Asia, a week before departure, our missionaries rerouted to serve in India. They worked tirelessly with the Missionaries of Charity to serve the poorest of the poor, special needs orphans, and the elderly, many of them handicapped, abused, and rejected by society if not their own families. In addition, they were invited to teach several classes and workshops to the Missionaries of Charity sisters as well as young adult groups and faith communities in three different dioceses. St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
This past summer we also trained a new lay missionary to serve in Asia through a rigorous and intensive six-week formation program with nearly 300 hours of formation taught by missionaries and friars from the greater Bay Area and even Rome. Part of the formation included assisting with teaching and discussions of the more than 40 online Catholic faith formation classes offered by SFXLMS since Easter. This reached to nearly 400 people around the world, helping others find community, deepen their knowledge of their faith, draw closer to Christ, experience greater hope, and engage with the universal Church during a time of isolation and discouragement.
With the impact of Covid-19 far reaching in the regions our missionaries serve, we are having 2-3 missionaries entering different parts of Asia this coming fall to serve in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and wherever else Christ may lead us. In each location, we are working with local bishops, religious, and parishes, to do works of evangelization in the streets and online, through university campuses that are re-opening, teaching workshops in parishes, engaging with and building up young adult ministries, offering faith-based support services, and leading faith formation programs that focus on faith, hope, strength, encouragement, and community.
Last year, we established a special Mission Prayer Team dedicated to praying for specific intentions for our lay missionaries while serving in the mission field. We now have an active list of more than 60 prayer warriors committed to praying in meaningful ways in support of our mission on a weekly basis through offering Masses, Eucharistic adoration, silent prayer, Lectio Divina and other scriptural prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, rosaries, Divine Mercy chaplets, fasting, lighting candles, and other forms of intentional prayer before the Lord. Our mission was deeply touched by the overwhelming response of prayer support. During times of discouragement or struggle, knowing that someone an ocean away is specifically praying for our lay missionaries and their mission really has served as a great consolation for them.
St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society is assigned to St. Michael Church, San Diego for the Missionary Cooperation program 2021.
Information provided by Sally Brien Holper, Director of Operations
St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society