Missio meanderings – A wonderful journey of faith

With your generous support, the worldwide MISSIO network helps train over 25,000 future Priests and 11,000 Religious Sisters every year. Seminarians are supported both through donations, and through our Seminarian Sponsorship Programme. We recently spent time with Fr Vincent, MISSIO’s National Director in Malawi, who shared how precious and important his MISSIO Sponsorship became, and the immense difference MISSIO made to him and so many others.

MISSIO supports health services all over poor countries like Malawi; hospitals and clinics… all the services,’ Fr Vincent explains. ‘I was not born at the MISSIOn hospital, but we received childcare services from there when I was very young, and then as I grew up, we got all the medical support and services from there.

‘My primary school was funded by MISSIO. Many of the crucial people in Malawi were supported by schools run by the Church. The incumbent president of the country and the vice-president came through secondary schools run by the Catholic Church, supported by MISSIO. My birth, my primary education and secondary education were all made possible by MISSIO. Of course, I never understood how things work; it was only when I was appointed to be a MISSIO National Director that I realised!’

When Fr Vincent was studying at St Peter’s Major Seminary to become a Priest in Malawi, Teresa Gleeson from Bury St Edmunds began sponsoring him. MISSIO’s Sponsorship Programme pairs trainee Priests overseas to people in England and Wales who support them both financially and spiritually.

Sponsors have the option to correspond with their seminarian through the MISSIO office and the Rector of the student’s seminary. While some people prefer not to, others feel that correspondence is an essential part of being a sponsor: exchanging letters, news of their parish, and photographs throughout the student’s years of training.

‘Teresa was my (spiritual) mother,’ says Fr Vincent. ‘Of course, we never met in person, but she shared her faith through her letters, her prayers, and her financial support. She used to write faith-filled letters encouraging me, telling me what she was doing as a faithful Catholic, and praying for me.

‘Teresa Gleeson’s prayers were answered. She produced me!’ he laughs. ‘She offered prayers for me, and here I am: I’m a Priest. I’m the living example; the response to Jesus Christ and the Blessed Sacrament.

‘I was trained through MISSIO, and by God’s grace, I’m now the MISSIO Director in Malawi. So today, I am giving the ripple effect of what Teresa did for me. I teach people about the importance of sponsoring and praying for seminarians, and praying for young people that they become Priests.’

Fr. Vincent is clear how important sponsorship is to the Church’s MISSIOn of igniting God’s love throughout the world. ‘You have to continue this [sponsoring],’ he says, ‘because after me, Priests are to come in perpetuity… we need Priests in those years to come.

‘Teresa died in 2019. But she continues to live on through me, and through my programme of animation and teaching in Malawi. She will continue to live forever, because what I’m teaching today, others will continue.

‘I see today there are young people in the seminary whom I animate and encourage through MISSIOn Together (MISSIO’s children’s branch) in Malawi. I know for sure there will be Priests. And I know among some of my family, my nephews and nieces, there will be a Priest; there will be a Sister! It’s not me of course; it’s Jesus, who works through me.

‘MISSIO is all about bringing good to humanity across the whole world, especially in the places that are more in need, like the young churches, the poor churches – Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, and many other parts of the world.

‘I know the good Teresa has done for me and for the whole Church through MISSIO. And I am certain that she must be in a better place in heaven, with Jesus and Mother Mary and the Saints.’

–from MISSIO.org.uk  Spring 2014 edition of “Mission Today”

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