30 March 2005
St Francis Leprosy Guild Annual Review 2004 shows photographs and gives a description of this thriving mission in the Copperbelt. It was founded in the 1960’s by Catholic business men for children of workers in the copper mines.
Since 1975 it has been run by the Franciscan Sisters of Assisi for people with leprosy. They took on the responsibility for almost a hundred families. It now has several homes and clinics, treats leprosy at Liteta Hospital, and helps leprosy patients at Chibote Rehabilitation Centre. There is a school and nursery, and nutrition centres feeding 2000 orphans, and 145 resident children of people with AIDS.
On their 300 hectares of land, they grow corn and vegetables, and they have 3000 chickens, 200 pigs, and 24 cows. The conditions are so good that it is sometimes difficult to get the relatives to leave.
Catholics provide thousands upon thousands of centres like this in poor parts of the world. They provide water, food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, organisation, medical and nursing care, kindness, understanding, and much more to people in great need.
Catholics provide the drive and organisation, and sometimes, when the centre begins to grow, others come in to help. (At St Theresa’s, the British High Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome co-financed a chicken project.)
The good in Catholicism is so well camouflaged by argument, politics, campaigning, conflict, and the relentless denunciation of the faults of others, that many believe that this goodness does not exist.
I put in this small example to show that underneath the camouflage a hidden Church goes quietly on, bringing help to the very poor. And this hidden Church provides more help to the very poor than any other world-wide organisation.
This Newsletter is critical of the Church’s views on population, family planning, and politics, but it has profound admiration and gratitude for the goodness of the hidden Church, which quietly organises and provides help for those in the greatest need, not only in Zambia, but across the world.