Date: 22. October 2020
Time to read: 2 min
The year 2020, marked by the Covid-19 epidemic, has been a year of change for all of us. For Slovenia and for the rest of the world. Through its missionary activities, the Church is striving to respond to the challenges brought about by this difficult year.
In the missionary month of October, missionaries would like to pass on the message that »we are still here«.
The situation has changed and become even worse than before, but this has given missionaries further impetus to be even more committed and active and to persist in their noble work. Pope Francis has also called for solidarity and cooperation. Since we are all in the same boat, we need to row together and not separately.
The work of missionaries varies greatly. Missionaries do not only perform pastoral duties for the promotion of religion and Christian values, but also provide social assistance and greatly contribute to the handling and improvement of the situation in certain regions.
- Missionaries can also be laymen, in particular doctors or other healthcare workers and people with different practical skills that they can use to help in any way. Photo: laflor-GettyImages/GulliverFilm&Foto
- The work of missionaries improves the situation and makes the lives of the locals easier in numerous countries. Photo: Bartosz Hadyniak-GettyImages/GulliverFilm&Foto
They strive to ensure better access to healthcare, education, jobs, a sufficient amount of food and healthy drinking water. Missionaries have built churches, schools, clinics and roads and actively raise the awareness of people in schools and health centres.
The Missionary Centre of Slovenia comprises 49 Slovenian missionaries, who are active all around the globe.
These include 45 priests, monks and nuns and four lay missionaries. They offer their help in 26 countries, mostly in Africa, but also on other continents.
They are active in the following countries: Albania, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Greece, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Russia, Rwanda, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Zambia.
The highest number of Slovenian missionaries is in Madagascar, as many as nine. One of them is Peter Opeka, who performs invaluable work with selfless simplicity.
Together with his co-workers from the Akamasoa Association, this Slovenian missionary has brought new life to more than 23,000 homeless people from Madagascar's capital Antananarivo by building schools and houses and providing healthcare and jobs.
»My mission is to serve the poorest and the neediest – in this I have found the meaning of life«, said Peter Opeka.
Slovenian missionaries have brought something completely new to the missionary mind-set. They joined the locals and came into their midst. They started growing their own rice, which was unusual for missionaries at the time.
They have thus gained great trust among the people. As Peter Opeka said, »We want to cultivate the rice that we eat with our own hands. This is also part of pastoral and missionary work. When the locals see that we are not afraid to get our hands dirty, this helps them to see us as their brothers. I believe that today's missionary needs to hold a Bible in one hand and a shovel in the other.«
The missionaries are aware that they are at their best when the spirit of fraternity, love and solidarity prevails in their relations. Their unselfishness should be held as an example to encourage us to offer help to those in need.