Mission Trip Highlights: October 2016 – March 2017
Below is a sampling of HLI’s missionary activity around the world in the past six months.
HLI Missionaries: Joseph Meaney Ph.D., HLI Director of International Outreach and Expansion; and Joannes Bucher, HLI Regional Director of Europe
The Right to Life and Freedom of Conscience Congress, organized in collaboration with 40 Days for Life, brought pro-life leaders together to discuss the lack of conscience rights protections for medical students and medical professionals, as well as the minimal changes to the abortion law since independence from the Soviet Union. The local Latvian organizers said the congress was the largest and most prestigious pro-life event in Latvian history. Even members of parliament and local government attended, and the congress was featured on Latvian national television and in the press, both Catholic and secular.
Catholics currently make up about 20% of the total population of Latvia, and the legacy of heroism under Soviet persecution has bore fruit in full churches. The number of abortions is declining as more and more expectant mothers receive help. Tighter abortion law restrictions may soon get passed. HLI is committed to helping all the countries from Poland eastward to achieve victories for the Culture of Life. The Catholic Church is strong and well led in these former communist countries, even where she is a small minority. Generally, the governments in the region recognize that a demographic disaster is brewing as a result of low birthrates and abortion. Radical feminism has not permeated these societies as it has in the West. Everything is ripe for a “pro-life spring” if we can reinforce the efforts of our courageous HLI pro-life leaders.
HLI Missionary: Dr. Ligaya Acosta, HLI Regional Director Asia and Oceania
Dr. Ligaya Acosta traveled to Bangkok, Thailand to attend planning meetings for the 21st Asia-Pacific Congress on Faith, Life, and Family (ASPAC) scheduled for November 2017.
ASPAC has produced and inspired countless committed promoters and defenders of the pro-life culture. For example, Mayor Sally Lee of Sorsogon City, Philippines, after attending the 19th ASPAC in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, declared her city a “Pro-Life City.” Other examples include Doctors for Life in the Philippines (inspired by the 2010 ASPAC), and a now-active pro-life group in Taiwan, Province of China (inspired by the 2015 ASPAC in Taiwan, Province of China).
HLI Missionaries: Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, HLI President; and Mario Rojas, HLI Regional Director of Latin America
An HLI REDESSVIDA congress (Latin American Network of Priests and Seminarians for Life) was held in Guatemala City, Guatemala. In attendance were 6 bishops, 177 priests, 241 seminarians, and 5 religious brothers. The opening Mass was offered by Archbishop Nicolas Thevenin, Apostolic Nuncio in Guatemala.
A REDESSVIDA congress, like any event of this size sponsored by HLI, provides an added opportunity to meet with local Church Hierarchy, conduct media interviews, and strategize with bishops and partners on future activities.
After the congress, Mario Rojas discussed the family crisis in Latin America with Maria Rene Barrilla, host of “Live in the Morning” on Guatevision TV, a national outreach channel that reaches 2 million people in Guatemala City and another 7 million Guatemalans living in the United States via the Internet.
Mario also met with Fr. Juan Baptista Lara, Secretary for the Family Pastoral of the Venezuelan Conference of Bishops, to discuss a potential future REDESSVIDA congress in Venezuela.
Immediately following the congress, on October 14, the first Pro-life Symposium for the Laity, was attended by 230 lay leaders.
HLI Missionaries: Mario Rojas, HLI Regional Director of Latin America; and Nancy Tosi, HLI Trainer for the Pro-Life Hispanic Training Program
Mario Rojas and Nancy Tosi were invited to participate in the 2nd Hispanic Binational Pro-Life Congress, organized by the Respect Life Ministry of the Diocese of Phoenix. The objective of the visit was to promote HLI services, including the online pro-life Hispanic training courses. They also discussed the possibility of organizing a pro-life congress for Hispanic priests and seminarians living in the United States. This would be a joint effort between the Diocese of Phoenix and HLI’s REDESSVIDA (Latin American Network of Priests and Seminarians for Life).
HLI Missionary: George Wirnkar, HLI Regional Director of Francophone Africa
George Wirnkar spent five days visiting HLI’s Benin affiliate (CMMEN), encouraging leaders, supporting HLI’s seminary apostolate, and uniting these forces with our Seminarians Summer Institute alumni in defense of life.
While in Benin, George met with seminarians at the St. Gall Seminary in Ouidah and visited Fr. Christ Hounmenou and Fr. Benoit Odounsi, who are alumni of HLI’s Seminarians Summer Institute. Fr. Hounmenou has developed a parish program of monthly talks and lessons on family and life issues and is teaching couples NFP. Father has the active support and participation of Dr. Gisele Egounlety – an NFP specialist from the John Paul II Institute in Benin.
November – December 2016
HLI Missionaries: Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, HLI President; Dr. Ligaya Acosta, HLI Regional Director of Asia and Oceania; and Dr. Brian Clowes, HLI Director of Research and Education
In India, missionary training was held in Goa (for laity), Kerala (for seminarians, priests, doctors, nurses, students and educators) and Bangalore (for seminarians, priests, and religious, plus a young adult seminar). In total, 5,000 people attended the various sessions.
In addition to the Kerala three-day “La Vita” conference, Fr. Boquet, Dr. Acosta, and Dr. Clowes gave a combined total of 18 hours of recorded talks for Shalom Television.
HLI Missionaries: Emil Hagamu, HLI Regional Director of Anglophone Africa; Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, HLI President; Dr. Brian Clowes, HLI Director of Research and Education; and Fr. Raphael Wanjohi, HLI Country Director for Kenya
Fr. Shenan Boquet, Dr. Brian Clowes, and Emil Hagamu were hosted by Fr. Raphael Wanjohi, HLI Country Director for Kenya, at the Little Sisters of St. Joseph Spiritual Center in Karen, Nairobi. Fr. Wanjohi and his team had arranged training programs at Christ the King Seminary in Nyeri for over 400 seminarians and St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Nairobi for over 130 seminarians. They also visited a Natural Family Planning clinic in Nyeri, where Fr. Wanjohi conducts an ongoing mission to train couples in NFP and prepares others to become “training couples.” Among those he has trained are Simon and Charity Muriithi, who together have trained more than 4,000 couples.
Missionaries: Mario Rojas, HLI Regional Director of Latin America; Luis Martinez, HLI Legal Advisor for OAS; Raymond de Souza, HLI Delegate for International Missions; and Nancy Tosi, HLI Trainer for the Pro-Life Hispanic Training Program
In Venezuela, HLI’s Monagas Pro-Life Congress was given to more than 70 priests, seminarians, religious, and lay leaders. In the days following the congress, the provincial pro-life meeting “Life in a Week” was given to educators, students, politicians, lawyers, and media professionals. Parish talks and media interviews via radio, television, and newspaper interviews were also given throughout the week.
HLI Missionaries: Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, HLI President; and Dr. Brian Clowes, HLI Director of Research and Education
Fr. Boquet and Dr. Brian Clowes offered a parish pro-life weekend, which included Sunday Masses and a talk on The Dignity & Sacredness of Human Life.
HLI Missionary: George Wirnkar, HLI Regional Director of Francophone Africa
For five days George Wirnkar was able to take the pro-life pulse of this nation. Armel Angoji, the head of HLI’s Ivorian affiliate (Oyofo) organized meetings, lined up talks, and set up high-level hierarchy meetings. Armel is keenly aware of the ills that affect his people and he has a God-given ability to move young people to action. As we see in high schools and colleges all over the world, young people are inundated with the Culture of Death’s distortion of human sexuality; however, they are also very often hungry for the truth. This was apparent by the impassioned response Armel received from a talk he gave to over 200 girls from a vocational college.
HLI Missionary: Dr. Ligaya Acosta, HLI Regional Director of Asia and Oceania
In March, Dr. Acosta traveled to Bangladesh, which is brand new mission territory for HLI, to lay the groundwork for a future mission trip in August 2017. While there, she met with numerous individuals. Some of the meetings had been scheduled ahead of time, but others were the result of new contacts being introduced to her through others. In each meeting, Dr. Acosta shared HLI’s worldwide mission and gave HLI pro-life training resources, such as the DVD Library, Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook, and the Education Series on Contraception.
HLI Missionary: Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, HLI President
HLI partners with pro-life and family NGOs (non-governmental organizations) like Civil Society for the Family to collectively advocate for UN policies that protect life and defend the traditional family. During the 61st Commission on the Status of Women, the Civil Society for the Family partnered with the UN member states that make up the Group of Friends of the Family and the Group of Friends United Against Human Trafficking for a high-level event. The event theme was protecting and empowering women and girls and the irreplaceable role of the family in helping girls reach their full potential.
Fr. Boquet participated in the panel discussion of preventative measures that protect girls and women from the pitfalls of exploitation, poverty, and abuse. He also gave a statement on the importance of faith, family, and religious freedom in creating a society that respects and defends the dignity of every person.
Marches for Life
In the past six months, HLI has participated in five marches for life. The first, held in Switzerland in October 2016, was co-sponsored by HLI Switzerland. In January, Fr. Boquet and Dr. Brian Clowes attended the March for Life in Paris, France, where 40,000 people gathered to witness for the pre-born. That same month, HLI participated in the U.S. March for Life in Washington D.C. Finally, in March, Fr. Boquet and Joannes Bucher marched with 30,000 people in Romania, and Dr. Joseph Meaney marched with 3,000 people in Brussels.
A VITAL PRO-LIFE RESOURCE
One of HLI’s pivotal tools in our training of priests, seminarians, and lay leaders is A Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook, written by HLI’s own Dr. Brian Clowes. This 100-page, pocket-sized book is indispensible for these activists in their fight against the Culture of Death.
To date, this Handbook has been translated into 3 languages: English, Spanish, and Korean. Every year we receive requests for additional translations. The French translation, for instance, will be completed this year for the work we do in French-speaking Africa, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific Islands.
One of our main goals over the next year is to translate and print A Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook into Chinese, Taiwanese, and Portuguese.
It is important to note that every seminarian who receives the handbook will one day serve as a priest to thousands of Catholics. The pro-life message must be part of their vocation.
Our mission would be void without the truth to stand behind. It is why A Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook is so valuable to every pro-life trained activist.
Response from Church Leaders:
“[HLI’s Pro-Life Pastoral Handbook] is indeed a useful tool when dealing with the laity who come to me with questions related to life and family issues. I would like to be able to print many of these books to distribute in my diocese and also in other dioceses of Bolivia with the approval of my brother bishops.” — Bishop Cristobal Bialasik, Oruro, Bolivia.
Bishop Augusto Dias Duarte, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, anxiously awaits the Portuguese translation.
From left to right: Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor, Archdiocese of La Paz, Bolivia; Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, Apostolic Nuncio to Bolivia; and Bishop Gonzalo del Castillo, Emeritus Bishop for the military in Bolivia. All three bishops have received the Pro-Life Handbook and commend HLI on this initiative.
“Here is a pastoral handbook that is truly pro-life, very comprehensive, so well – researched, and faithful to the Teachings of the Church and of the Gospels. It is truly a treasure worth keeping and a gift worth sharing.” +Rolando Santos, CM, Bishop of Alotau-Sideia, Papua New Guinea