Ambassadors of hope
One of the things that struck me about the aftermath of 9/11 was how quickly Americans came together. Black and white, young and old, religious and atheist — even conservatives and liberals — all worked together. We left politics aside to mourn and rebuild.
There’s something about a crisis that brings people together. The outpouring of support for victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti is the most recent example. People from around the world are still working together to save as many lives as possible in one of the deadliest earthquakes in human history. At press time, the official estimate of dead was 200,000. Two million were homeless. The quake affected more than 3 million people.
The Holy Father asked Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services to spearhead the Catholic Church’s response to the quake. CRS has pledged $25 million in aid, and it could go higher. On Jan. 19, the agency had collected $13.1 million for relief efforts, including a second collection requested by the U.S. bishops.
For many of us, Haiti opened our eyes and hearts to the poverty in our own hemisphere. Haiti’s capital city, so devastated by the quake, is only 710 miles from Miami. The tragedy has allowed us all to become “ambassadors of hope,” like the Legatus members who are working to build the Church in Africa.
Like Haiti, many African nations suffer from lack of education and opportunity. Although some of the poverty stems from corrupt governments, there are tremendous opportunities to make a difference at the grass roots level.
Pope Benedict XVI believes the Church is making great progress in building stability and peace on the continent. He presided over a special synod for African bishops last October. The three-week assembly of bishops pondered the theme “The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”
“The synod has forcefully reemphasized — and has manifested — that the Church is the Family of God, in which there cannot be ethnic, linguistic or cultural divisions,” the Pope said at the synod’s closing. “I encourage you with the words of the Lord Jesus: Be salt and light in the beloved African land!”
Legatus members like Chuck Ormsby Jr., Christopher Hoar, and Art Wigchers are doing just that. They’ve committed their time, talent and financial blessings to partnering with African communities. The impact of their efforts will last for generations.
Ormby’s organization is digging wells, and building a school and church. Hoar’s group is aiding orphans and providing educational opportunities. Their work is providing hope where there was little. And it’s giving rise to a new generation of Catholics who will, God willing, spread the Gospel to the entire world.
Patrick Novecosky is Legatus Magazine’s editor.