Among the many joyful aspects of working for CNEWA, one of my favorites has been helping to expand our Parish Awareness Program. This role has taken me, along with my colleagues Deacon Greg Kandra and the Rev. Elias Mallon, across the country to a variety of parishes, in order to share our mission and work.
This past weekend, Deacon Greg and I took CNEWA’s message of hope from coast to coast — literally — as we traveled to St. William’s Parish in Atascadero, California, about 30 miles north of San Luis Obispo.
Deacon Greg preached at the weekend masses, connecting CNEWA’s work to the theme of “light” present throughout Sunday’s readings. Across the Middle East and beyond, he explained, Christians’ light of hope is flickering, and in danger of going out. Through our regional partners, including the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Erbil, Iraq, CNEWA is helping to ensure that Christians and other persecuted minorities have the resources — and the hope — to sustain themselves through hardships that few of us could imagine.
After the masses, we greeted parishioners at a table we set up outside, under the warm California sunshine. There, parishioners were able to learn more about our work and sign up for a subscription to our magazine, ONE. Many people I spoke with expressed a sentiment I hear often: “We’ve heard about the struggles of our Christian brothers and sisters, and we’re so grateful for the chance to help!”
We’re especially grateful to a few wonderful people at St. William’s for making our visit such a success. Deacon Rick Minton, the parish’s Pastoral Associate, and his wife, Debbie, made sure we were well-fed and well-rested. The pastor, the Rev. Edwin Limpiado, welcomed us warmly and gregariously. It quickly became clear that he is well-loved by his flock! We also met Gabriel Okafor, a seminarian of the Diocese of Monterey who is doing his pastoral year under Father Edwin.
Overall, it was a wonderful visit, and, as I am at every parish visit, I was touched by the large number of people who stopped by to make a donation and learn more about us. It’s gratifying to meet such engaged, caring people who want to make a difference, and it’s an honor to welcome them to the CNEWA family!
If you’re interested in having CNEWA visit your parish, and spread our mission of hope, please do not hesitate to contact us.