Rome - 27 June 2005 for SSpS and SVD Mission Secretaries and Mission Animators


In this bulletin:










Sr. María Adela Muñoz, formerly the SSpS Generalate Mission Secretary, sends a report on SSpS missionary service in Cuba.  Both before and during her time as Mission Secretary, she had a special interest and love for the people and the mission in Cuba.  Now she has a chance to live close to her dreams.

[In March 2006 the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit will complete ten years of missionary presence in Cuba. A look back at the experiences and challenges of these ten years evokes varied and mixed feelings.


The first group of three sisters had almost two years of preparation, procuring visas and fulfilling other formalities. They also used that time to acquaint themselves with the culture and social milieu of Cuba, studying the orientations set forth by the documents of the 1985 Cuban National Bishops’ Conference.


Although some planning concerning some "technical" matters was included in the time of preparation, the most important elements were the  human, psychological and spiritual well-being of the team. Once in the country, these Sisters were supported and assisted in their human and spiritual integration by the Divine Word Missionaries who had already become familiar with the work and situation.


Now we have two communities collaborating in mission with the local Church, one each in the dioceses of Holguín and Bayamo Manzanillo. The apostolate consists mainly in listening to people’s problems, and together seeking appropriate responses in a situation that is very difficult to understand, marked as it is, by a half century of Marxist socialism.


This being the Year of the Eucharist, our parish at Niquero de Bayamo held an assembly which helped to generate greater missionary awareness among the laity and a desire on their part for more religious formation. The SSpS have accompanied and animated this modest initiative of the local Church to understand mission in terms of getting out of the Church buildings and going to the people in the barrios.

Of the situations of mission mentioned in Redemptoris Missio, all three are present here in Cuba. First, there is regular pastoral care; second, there is outreach to those Catholics who have left the Church; and third, there is the need to go out to those who are searching for God but who do not know Christ. Cuba has a large number of those seekers who, as the Divine Word Missionaries rightly put it, are "seekers" of truth and justice based on the values of the Kingdom.

A milestone event in the history of the local church took place during the last week of May 2005, the First National Assembly of Mission was held. The conference launched five objectives for the Cuban Church.

From the beautiful island of Cuba to all our brothers and sisters who read our story through the Mission Bulletin, I send cordial greetings and many thanks for your support and interest. Special regards and my encouragement to Mary John and Tom, our Mission Secretaries.]

[Contact Sr. Maria Adela at]


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From 21 to 26 of February, Br. Moacir Rudnick (BRS), the local Mission Secretary, welcomed SVD mission secretaries to Ponta Grossa for the Sixth Meeting of PANAM Mission Secretaries. Previous meetings were held in Quito-1993, Belo Horizone-1995, Cochabamba-1997, Stella Maris-1999, and Santiago-2001. This meeting was organized by Jorge Patricio Vega (CHI), the PANAM Zone Area Coordinator for Mission Secretaries. Representatives from nine of the seventeen SVD provinces/regions of the Americas gathered to reflect together about mission animation and the role of the mission secretary. In addition, a number of lay collaborators were present, some of whom have been working with SVD mission animators for nearly twenty years. Some photos of the participants are available on the SVD website (

The last day of the meeting was devoted to planning and common projects. The secretaries proposed three "orientations" to guide their work for the coming three years:

• Emphasize mission animation in parishes - with special attention to mission ad extra.

• Strengthen collaboration with the coordinators of the other dimensions and with other province officials.

• Share ideas on fund raising - asking the zonal coordinator for mission animation to encourage the sharing.

The secretaries also approved two common projects:

• Continue to support the missiology course in the southern cone and Brazil subzones.

• Undertake a study of the possibilities to make opportunities for the exchange of lay missionaries in the zone. (While the difficulty and cost of accommodating lay missionaries is recognized, it might still be possible to have a small program among the provinces of the zone - particularly if language studies are not required.)

The next meeting of the PANAM mission secretaries is scheduled for Ecuador in 2008, after CAM 3 - the third American Missionary Congress.


[For more information contact Jorge Vega at:]

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Sr. Mary John sends a report on an annual world wide event to fight hunger. Along with a number of SSpS and SVDs, she participated in this year's walk against hunger. The demonstration took place just a day after some most encouraging news. At the recent summit meeting of the G8 Finance Ministers, a debt cancellation for 18 of the poorest nations was announced. That was a great boost for the walkers and all interested people. It might be noted that the debt cancellation came after more than 10 years of relentless pursuit through lobbying, signature campaign and other manifestations. Something is happening!

[We have all been hungry at one time or another in our lives. At such times the delightful thought of getting home and helping ourselves to a hot meal comforts us and hastens our steps. Imagine instead that hunger to be a permanent feature of your life, with no sign of a meal in sight. That’s what poverty does to millions of our brothers and sisters.

On June 12th, The United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) and TNT (a worldwide package delivery company) together launched a Walk the World event as a follow-up of their earlier partnership in 2002 called Moving the World.  In both cases the activities were aimed to help in the global fight against hunger. On a twenty four hour clock, New Zealand led the World by setting in motion the first steps of a Walk Against Hunger. Then as the day continued, similar actions were begun in 250 cities around the world. In Rome over a thousand people participated - adults, youth, children, infants in pram and even some pets walked some five kilometers, beginning and ending in Piazza Venezia. Persons who could not walk generously sponsored the rest through donations, both large and small. To keep enthusiasm and interest high, a dozen lucky participants were treated to attractive prizes to mark the end of the Walk.

Nine SSpS from the Generalate community together with an enthusiastic group of SVDs and other associates joined the Walk. Under the banner of VIVAT International (the only banner to appear), they walked the stipulated distance remembering the hungry of our world who include:

How does walking help alleviate hunger? One could claim that unnecessary walking just generates unnecessary hunger! For people who have developed a sensitivity to hungry people, walking is a way of moving with them and together seeking ways to eradicate hunger from the face of the earth. Walking consists in steps taken and yet to take. Walking is full of hope and health. In a world of instant communications, this gesture can bond peoples together. Walk the World has already taken the first steps of solidarity while celebrating small victories along the way.]

[For more information on the Walk the World initiative, please visit Contact Sr. Mary John]

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Six months ago - on December 26th, the Tsunami washed over coastal areas around the Indian ocean bringing death and destruction. It also brought forth an amazing flood of solidarity. These Mission Animation Bulletins have frequently carried news of the work of SVDs and SSpS in the areas affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami.  This time, we include a story of another group whom the SVD mission secretary of the India Central Province had a chance to observe. Anbu Augustine (INC) is also deeply involved in interreligious encounter with Muslims.  In fact, he did doctoral studies at the Aligarh Muslim University of Delhi.  When he visited the tsunami affected area of Tamil Nadu - he noticed something that few others have commented on.  Here is the story:

[Natural disasters have often taught us to come closer to each other, forgetting our differences, and working for the welfare of the people. I've seen how various organizations, many NGO’s of all religious traditions, sweep into quick action and do their utmost, to save and protect lives and to comfort and instill new hope. I am moved when I find various Muslim Organizations involved in various relief activities.

In the days following the December tsunami I visited the affected area in Tamil Nadu. I would like to mention a Muslim NGO called MNP (Manitha Neethi Pasarai - Justice for Humanity) that was involved in volunteer work. As I was standing for a bus at Keechanguppam, the MNP members were traveling by van. They stopped the van in front of me and invited me to come along. I got into the van and I had an interesting conversation with them.

The members of the organization are Muslim young boys, either students or in service. I was told that soon after the Tsunami, the organization involved itself in relief activities, rendering its service to the affected people. They helped all people, irrespective of their caste and creed. Usually it is not custom among them to touch a dead body. But these young Muslim boys carried the dead bodies literally in their hands. They said that they wanted to give a decent burial to the dead irrespective of their religious affiliation. They were working day and night for these people – building houses, distributing food and counseling them. I was taken up by the commitment of these young Muslim followers. They were quite open in their sharing.

There is a lesson here for those of us who think that the Muslim community is secluded or isolated from the rest. Islam is a religion of peace. It invites its followers to surrender oneself to the will of Allah-God. It is only by surrendering oneself to Allah-God that one can experience genuine peace. Service to humanity is a paramount teaching of Islam. Allah rewards all those who do good in this world, as Holy Quran says, "O you my servant who believe! Fear your Lord. Good is the reward for those who do good in this world" (Qn 39: 10) and again "Allah rewards them according to the best of their deeds and add even more for them out of His Grace" (Qn 24: 38). Devotion to Allah, love of Allah and service to humanity are all Islamic principles.]

[For more information contact Pushpa Anbu Augustine at]

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Items for the SVD/SSpS Mission Animation Bulletin Board can be sent to:

Tom Ascheman SVD

Mary John K. SSpS

SVD Generalate Mission Secretary

SSpS Generalate Mission Secretary

Divine Word Missionaries

Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters