The archdiocesan Center for Mission awarded five Mustard Seed Grants this year to Catholics from the archdiocese who have become overseas missioners for one or more years. The awards totaled $2,800.
This year’s winners include Dan and Meri Diamond, members of St. Lawrence in Minneapolis; Keenan Ryan, a member of St. Hubert in Chanhassen; Maggie Mattatini, a member of Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul; and Sister Pat Forster, a Franciscan who has been a member of Sacred Heart in St. Paul.
The Diamonds are serving with the Columban Fathers in Peru. Ryan is working with the Farm of the Child in Honduras. Mattatini is serving with the Voluntary Mission Movement in El Salvador. Sister Pat is serving with the Little Falls Franciscans in Mexico.
The Mustard Seed Grants are made possible by an endowment for the Center for Mission. The grants can be awarded at up to $1,000 per missioner, and they are renewable.
The program started in 2001 after a $100,000 endowment was created through an estate donated to support mission vocations. The center has awarded 40 grants in the past nine years.
Making mission possible
The grants do not get many applicants, said Mike Haasl, the center’s global solidarity coordinator. He’s met many people who could have used them who didn’t know they were available. He hopes more people apply for them in the future.
“It’s rare that we turn anybody away,” he said.
Missioners use the money in a variety of ways, Haasl said. Most missionary organizations ask their participants to raise funds to cover their cost of travel, room and board, formation, language school and health insurance. These costs could be $10,000 or more per year, Haasl said.
“It’s really to make mission possible for them,” he said.
Supporting overseas missionaries from the archdiocese is important because it recognizes that part of Christians’ baptismal call is to be missionaries, Haasl said. “Some of us may not be called to leave our homes and go overseas, but some of us do feel that,” he said.
Since Vatican II, the Catholic Church has viewed its mission work as finding Christ in one another, Haasl said. All of the 2010 Mustard Seed Grant recipients are working with poor and marginalized populations, he said.
“To really encounter them face to face and to mutually share as well as receive the gifts of the other is so important,” he added.
Most missioners who receive Mustard Seed Grants aren’t lifelong missionaries. Many will come back to the archdiocese where they will share their experiences. Haasl calls this “reverse mission.”
“The respect and dignity that the return missioners can share just helps people to see how important it is to be attentive to how people are fairing,” he said.
Category: World Mission Sunday