Think of the words of the Dana song, “We are one body, one body in Christ. And we do not stand alone.” As Christians, we stand as one, no matter where we are in the world. For decades, the St. Cloud Diocese has partnered with the Homa Bay Diocese in Kenya. St. Paul’s and Our Lady of the Angels are partnered with one parish in the diocese — St. Joseph’s Parish in Migori, Kenya. The Migori Partnership Team works to create relationships between the people and to support some of the orphans and vulnerable children in their parish.
Mary Lauer has been a member of this team for many years. She’s traveled to Migori three times as part of the exchange. Typically a delegation travels either to Sauk Centre or Migori every 18 months. They like to come in early spring or fall to try to avoid cold weather and we like to travel to Africa during winter months! This is usually followed by a year with no traveling.
“The part I love the most is going there,” Mary says. “I would go again at the drop of a hat, provided that I am able to. I would love to go back.”
The next group from our parish will likely travel to Migori in January 2025. In 2023, a delegation came from Africa.
Mary was no stranger to Africa before joining the team. She was a Maryknoll missionary in Tanzania before she was married. She was part of Fr. Dan Ohmann’s mission for three years. She has enjoyed being a part of the team because it has allowed her to make a difference in Africa.
“I’m all about Africa,” Mary says. “I’d love to see more people get involved in this ministry so that we can do more for the people of St. Joseph’s Parish.”
Our parishes support about 75 orphans of various ages. There are a myriad of reasons these children have become orphaned, but many have parents who were affected by the AIDS crisis.
One of the big fundraisers for the people of St. Joseph’s Parish is the Giving Tree at the parishes each year in November. People can do everything from supporting a $5 mosquito net to paying for a year of tuition for a child. Children in Migori can’t go to school if they don’t have a uniform, which includes a sweater and a pair of good shoes and socks. This fundraiser is a great way to sponsor tangible and important items for the orphans.
“Imagine the potential not being reached when you don’t read and write — all because your parents can’t buy a uniform,” Mary says.
Mary hopes to see more people support this important work for our brothers and sisters in Africa. She has seen some of the letters from Africa about how our parish support has made a difference to the orphans. For a time, she also served on the St. Cloud Diocese Homa Bay Committee.
“I’ve lived there and seen how disadvantaged so many of those kids are,” Mary says. “That really drives me to help.”
The members of the Migori Partnership Team each have orphans that they pray for by name each day. This is another way they can offer support.
“You should get involved in this committee or find ways to support the people of Migori because Jesus said they are all our neighbors — not just the people in Minnesota,” Mary says. “We can’t help everyone, but we have an obligation to help those who aren’t close neighbors.”
The Migori Partnership Team meets monthly on Tuesday evenings at the Centre for Christ. For more information, contact Kathy Knoblach at 320-351-5580.