By Maria T.P. Johnson
What is the connection between Hispanic ministry and Ghana? Catholic Relief Services recognizes that the Hispanic Catholic community is a significant part of the church in the United States, and as such, it wants some leaders in Hispanic ministry around the country to get more in touch with the CRS mission. I have been blessed with the opportunity of being part of this year’s delegation, which will visit Ghana next month.
With its welcoming people and first-class beaches, Ghana has become a magnet for tourists. However, visitors who don’t leave the main roads are unaware of the large swaths of poverty that run throughout Ghana, especially the three northern regions. Farmers in particular face many hardships.
Recognized by the international community as a democratic and economic leader in Africa, Ghana has taken center stage in the fight against poverty. Catholic Relief Services works with the people of Ghana to tackle poverty on several fronts, by improving the education and health of children; increasing access to clean water and sanitation; providing care and support to people living with HIV; finding ways to increase farm profits and production; and promoting peace in areas of conflict.
The experience that CRS wants to provide us is practical and spiritual. The delegation will visit two or three missions per day where people are the protagonists of their progress and change. We are asked to go with a sense of mission and build a connection with our ministries so that we can help increase a spirit of solidarity.
We go conscious that we will confront many difficulties, such as unpaved roads; contagious illnesses such as yellow fever and malaria, for which we will need vaccinations and other preventive medicine; intense heat, and we may need to wear protective shoes and clothing. I have to admit that I have a little anxiety about getting sick during the trip as other colleagues in the past have; however, everybody reassures me, “You will be OK, just do not drink water, uncooked food or fruit, and get all the vaccines that you can.” What reassures me the most? That I have been told that CRS staff take extremely good care of the participants and protect us as much they can.
Regarding the cruel history of slavery, Ghana was one of the most active ports where slaves were sent off to North and South America and the Caribbean. We will be able to visit some places that connect with those dark days in history praying that never again human beings endure such brutality and exploitation.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will touch our hearts, to be better stewards of the world’s resources, more compassionate in serving those in need, and to inspire others to live a life of global solidarity. I ask you, dear readers, to pray for this mission, for CRS and all those committed to transform the world through empowerment and works of love and justice.
Maria T.P. Johnson is Director of the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministries
Copyright (c) Aug. 23, 2012 CatholicReview.org