Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) Annual Report 2017

Posted July 15, 2017 1:37 am by The Diocese of Charlottetown

Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) Annual Report 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Latin American Mission Program (LAMP) Annual Report 2017

One of the critical questions that has been put in front of the

Western world in the last number of years is our identity as human

beings. LAMP has been privileged over the last fifty years to have

had a fundamental insight into this question by way of one of its’

guiding lights for its mission in the world. That light flows from the

heart of the Gospel as to who the Christ is. That is answered in

Matthew 25 when The Christ of the universe in his glory

says, “Whenever you do these things (feed, cloth, shelter, welcome,

visit) to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do it to me.” This

special place that the dispossessed, marginalized poor of the world

have in Christ’s self-identity has been one of the keys for LAMP’s

work for these fifty years. We have been privileged to know this

from our beginning in 1967 and to have been missioned to place

ourselves among those peoples in The Dominican Republic. In

carrying out this mission, LAMP has been graced to mandate its’

missionaries with that two-fold call to go out and return as a voice

for these “least of our brothers and sisters.” Its’ mission has always

been understood to flow from this preferential love of Christ.

 

This identity “crisis” of the Western world has produced

incredible hardships and scapegoating for many among the “least

of our brothers and sisters. To name just a few of these gross

consequences is to see, hear and be aware that when refugees

throughout the Middle East and Africa are barred from other

countries because of the horrors of war and famine in their

countries or placed in camps without adequate food and shelter in

their own lands, we are not taking seriously this identity given to us

in Christ. This displacement of so many millions in the world today

calls all governments, organizations, institutions to open wide our

doors to share with these brothers and sisters some of the wealth

unjustly accumulated by corporations and governments of the

West. Here in Canada we continue to witness this same unjust

distribution of the wealth of creation with the most grievously

affected being the first peoples of this land and the poor and

working poor. In these people, we have our educators if we would

take seriously their identity given to us in Christ.

 

This was beautifully underscored in a documentary recently

highlighted in Charlottetown in May through the sponsorship in part

of one of LAMP’s sister community based organizations, Cooper

Institute. This documentary entitled, Us and Them is a masterpiece

in underlining the guiding light of LAMP, whenever you care for the

the least of these brothers and sisters, you do this to me. This

documentary highlights the relationships between four homeless

persons in Vancouver and follows their journey for ten years,

2006-16. It is an incredible teaching on this pivotal identification of

who we are and as Jesus puts it to us “Who do you say that I am?”

This is answered throughout the documentary by these four

homeless and indigenous people through their lives representing ¡n

our time the ”Least of our brothers and sisters”. This was climaxed in

the documentary when it’s producer, Krista responds to her own

life’s struggle for her identity speaking this same Gospel truth,

“They Are Me”

 

LAMP has constantly for fifty years tried to answer this question of

our identity through the lens of those we were sent out to learn and

grow from; the dispossessed and struggling poor. With this view

obtained “from below”, not “from on high” LAMP has been faithful

to its Gospel call to stand and be one with the least of our brothers

and sisters understanding our witness to this mission is born out

when we see in them ourselves and in them Our Christ.

 

LAMP ACTIVITIES THIS PAST YEAR

Over the past year, LAMP has continued its work of bearing

witness to its Gospel mission in a variety of meetings and actions.

Among these are the following:

 

1) Missionary Activity- As most are aware our latest “full

time” missionary, Scotty Joe Smith returned home last year to

continue his mission in his ordinary life. This return was celebrated

in his home parish, Foxley River last June. l would like to underline

here that LAMP’s mission in the Dominican Republic continues even

when we have no official missionary in the field. This continues as it

has over the last fifty years through our support and presence to

organizations and individuals with whom LAMP has worked in

solidarity. As well, LAMP has maintained that presence through our

missionaries who have returned for visits and lengthier time frames

like Father Eddy Cormier’s winter sojourns to the country where his

presence to individuals and groups with whom LAMP has worked,

constitutes an example of this continuous missioning presence.

This was revealed in a special way this past winter when Father

Eddy was able to lead a memorial Mass for a long time LAMP friend

and collaborator, Lala Rojas, who died in December. Lala had

worked with LAMP in its earliest years helping to orientate some of

its first missionaries, including her life time friend, Marie Burge.

 

2) 25th Annual Daniel O’Hanley Lecture- LAMP was delighted to

welcome, Hereditary Chief, Stephen Augustine of the Mi’kmaq, as

the guest speaker for its 25th Daniel O’Hanley Lecture last

November. His sharing entitled: The Mi’kmaq: People of Hope

shined the light on the historical memory of the first people of the

Maritimes. Stephen’s presence and lecture highlighted the hope of

this first people despite the devastation that colonization has

brought to these brothers and sisters, their culture, language and

lives. Within this centuries old struggle for their dignity and life as a

people, their very existence and growing reclaiming of elements of

that ancient culture is a testament to the hope that lives among

those dispossessed of so much. We were honoured by the presence

of members of the Island Mi’kmaq community for this annual

lecture. Joe Byrne gave LAMP’s response to Chief Augustine’s talk

by sharing some of the historical memory of the indigenous people

of the Dominican Republic and their annihilation during the first

century of the Spanish colonization remembering some of those

voices which cried out for these brothers and sisters in the midst of

this horrendous killing, in particular Bartolome de las Casas, a

Dominican missionary and prophet of his time.

 

3) Mission Education – This year we have taken up a project for this

annual activity which is being worked out in the upcoming months

through visitations we are offering to individual groups and

parishes in the Diocese. ln these gatherings we will be updating

people of the Diocese with LAMP’s ongoing mission. For example,

Father John Molina will offer this sharing to some of our Indian

diocesan priests in the next few months. As well, other individual

LAMP members will offer themselves and this update to parishes

where they live.

 

4) Regular Monthly Meetings- For fifty years, LAMP has held

monthly meetings open to anyone to reflect and concretize when

possible this mission to hear the cries of creation and the poor.

Within those meetings this year, LAMP joined its voice to other

community based organizations and/or coalitions tackling justice

and peace issues. This included giving financial support to mission

partners in the Dominican Republic; education youth project in

Guyana, upcoming Colombian project; solidarity support to

immigrant workers, trade and justice group etc.

 

5) Meeting with Bishop Grecco- At a personal meeting with Father

Phil in May, Bishop Grecco asked that the following request be

brought to LAMP: Last year, the Vatican and the CCCB arrived at an

agreement whereby the Canadian Church would take responsibility

for the pastoral care of the northern dioceses of Canada, formerly

the responsibility of the Congregation for the Evangelization of

Peoples. Bishop Grecco invited LAMP to consider taking up in its

mission mandate to be the diocesan body responsible to advance

this call. LAMP had a good beginning discussion on this request at

our May meeting and will continue that reflection in the fall.

 

6) LAMP continued its ongoing work on two goals; the Faith and

Justice Program and short-term missionaries. These will be

highlighted in the mission education update with our visits to

parishes and diocesan website.

 

Finally, I wish to share some thank-yous. First to the people of our

Diocese, our mission is made possible through your generosity in

the Share Lent collection and your ongoing moral support for

LAMP’s missionary activities. Second to LAMP’s members and its

executive, we say thank you for your ongoing witness to the Gospel

this past year. As chair, I wish to thank in particular our vice

chair, Irene Burge for taking up my position at a number of our

monthly meetings. In this context, l wish to offer my personal

thanksgiving to LAMP and it’s members for their support this past

winter on the occasion of the death of my dearest brother and

friend, Father Robert McNeil. To those LAMP friends who were able

to be present for Robert’s funeral liturgy in Eskasoni, Cape Breton

thank you from the depths of my heart.

 

LAMP has been honoured for 50 years to be a witness to the

Gospel of Christ Jesus. It took up that call of the people of God in

1967 to be this missionary witness in the Dominican Republic and

its people and in our hearing to be evangelized, in particular, by the

“least of our brothers and sisters”. As Pope Francis proclaimed in

his encyclical, Evangelii Gaudiem, ”This is why I want a church which

is poor and for the poor. They have much to teach us. We need to let

ourselves be evangelized by them.” I can say that one of the main

reasons LAMP can celebrate this Golden anniversary of its inception

is that we have been evangelized by these “least of our brothers

and sisters” recognizing in them, ourselves and our Christ. — June 25, 2017

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