Happy 2021 and surviving the pandemic! Thank you for partnering with the Franciscan Missions in 2020. Your generosity in supporting our Franciscan missionaries was tremendous. Together with our faith in the Gospel and in our lives of service to the poor, we will deliver hope for the new year for all.
Surviving the Pandemic
2020 was a difficult year for everyone, especially the poor in the missions. As you know, many people lost the opportunity to work or even beg on the streets. Families were going hungry. To survive – many came and are still coming to our missions for food to feed their families. The demand was and continues to be overwhelming.
Our missionaries were the first to witness the cries of the poor and those surviving the pandemic. They sent our mission office emergency requests for financial assistance. Food assistance was the highest priority to meet the increasing number of people seeking aid. In 2020, we sent over $800,000 in emergency funds to help our missionary friars feed hungry people in Central and South America, Africa, Albania, Syria, India, Myanmar and the Philippines! Like everyone else, we did not plan on responding to this crisis while budgeting for 2020. Who knew? As you can imagine, responding to these emergency expenses has placed a strain on our already tight budget.
A Service of Love
Father Jose Francisco dos Santos, OFM has great experience feeding the poor. He and the other friars from the Province of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, have fed the poor and homeless in one of the most densely populated cities in the world. In the center of Sao Paulo there was a single tent dedicated to feeding several hundred homeless people a day known as the “Priests Tea.” But after the virus struck and a shutdown occurred, the daily number of people surviving the pandemic swelled to about 8,000.
This extraordinary event forced our missionary friars to set up another distribution center known as the “The Franciscan Tent.” They setup other tents and kitchens in Rio de Janeiro and the suburbs. Can you imagine the additional costs of going from feeding a few hundred people every day to 8,000-plus a day? It is an overwhelming number. With the second highest death toll in the world, Brazil continues to suffer. According to Fr. Santos, most of the people coming for food lost their jobs.
Help Us Continue
The developed countries of the world now have a renewed sense of hope for the new year. The newly developed COVID vaccines will soon be available to help mitigate the crisis sometime in this New Year. The poor in the missions, who cannot afford to buy food, will not be able to pay for a vaccine. So our missionary friars will continue providing food to people in desperate need of our help. I urgently request your help to ensure that our Franciscan missionaries continue to have the resources to aid the poor in the missions. Will you please demonstrate once again your love and compassion for people surviving the pandemic in the missions by sending a generous gift? Your renewed support will enable us to continue providing urgent humanitarian aid to the poor and help us deliver hope for the new year.
Together, We Deliver Hope for the New Year
Your generosity will enable us to continue treating people suffering from malaria, tuberculosis and leprosy at our hospital in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa and other clinics in developing countries around the world. You will also help us care for hundreds of families trapped in war-torn Syria and Myanmar by providing them with food, housing, medical assistance and other essential items. Together we will continue to educate poor and orphaned children around the world in the missions.
For example, the Franciscans in Chennai, India, have an afternoon education program for street children. These kids must pick through trash in the morning to find something to sell so they can buy food to survive another day. Without the Chennai program, these children would never be able to read or write. Your prayers for us bless the Franciscan Order with vocations. Your gifts support the education of future Franciscan missionaries and those surviving the pandemic. I am sure you can imagine the hope, joy and renewed life these young men represent to our worldwide Franciscan community.
These are just a few examples of the breadth and depth of our work with the poor around the world. In this New Year, this service to the poor will continue through the tireless efforts of our Franciscan missionaries and the prayers and generosity of friends like you. Help us deliver hope for the new year to all! Be assured of the daily prayers of your Franciscan brothers here in the United States and in our missions around the world.
I ask for your prayers as we face together the challenges and the blessings ahead.
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. Your faithful commitment and generosity strengthen us for the challenges of the New Year. We are so grateful to have you walking with us as 2021 unfolds. I thank you in advance for your support of our work with the poor in the missions.