“LORD, YOU HEAR THE PRAYER OF THE POOR, YOU STRENGTHEN THEIR HEARTS, YOU TURN YOUR EAR TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF THE ORPHAN AND OPPRESSED.”(Psalm 10)
October 24, 2019.
Feast of St.Anthony Mary Claret
My dearest brothers and sisters,
This morning we are very desperate. There is no money. We have spent every coin on our most urgent needs. Many homes are locked because rent is not paid, so they sleep outside or at neighbors. Some of their homes were destroyed by fires in the slums or washed away by floods. Many are still in hospitals because their bills are not paid. Some go without food. Mothers are in jail because they are unable to repay loans they took to put their children in school. Others work very hard but are not paid. Children are out of school because there is no money for their fees. Some youth are beaten to the point of death because gangsters roam the streets looking to steal from anyone walking alone.
I recall the words of St. Francis Xavier when he was working desperately in India among the poorest of the poor with no one to help him:
“Again and again I have thought of going round the universities of Europe and everywhere crying out like a madman, riveting the attention of those with more learning than charity: ‘What a tragedy: how many souls are being shut out of heaven, thanks to you!’ I wish they would work as hard at this as they do at their books, and so settle their account with God for their learning and the talents entrusted to them.”–words of St. Francis Xavier in a letter he wrote to St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Because of our desperate situation in the poverty of Kenya, we pray five times a day as a family. We live very simply so that we can share what we have with those who are in greater need. We never have sugar, milk, coffee, meat or dessert. We rarely have fruit. We have no refrigerator, no washing machine or dryer. We wash by hand our dishes, clothes and home. We care for the poorest of the poor: orphans, most here have no dads (they are either dead, alcoholic, or left their family long ago). Many have never known a dad. Some moms have died of AIDS. Some of our youth are trying to recover from Opioids which killed 1,338 Kenyans in 2016. Some of our youth have attempted suicide because of the great poverty here. We take care of the poorest of the poor.
We have no Statue of Liberty here, but the words on it are ours: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.” These words were written by Emma Lazarus from her poem “Mother of Exiles.” We know that the real Mother of Exiles is MARY, the Mother of JESUS, who fled into Egypt with her son and St. Joseph when Herod wanted to kill JESUS. Satan is still perusing the innocent, and we, the Family of JESUS, are a refuge for those most in need. We are now serving almost 300 very poor youth. Many of you have come to our rescue. We thank you five times a day in our prayers which include the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Holy Mass.
St. John Bosco wrote these words: “I have promised God that until my last breath I shall have lived for my poor young people. I study for you, I work for you. I am ready to give my life for you. Take note that whatever I am, I have been entirely for you, day and night, morning and evening, at every moment.” I have made these words of St. John Bosco to be my own.
JESUS was born in poverty, in a stable with animals. We are not ashamed to be like JESUS, to live in poverty.
“BLESSED ARE THE POOR.”–Luke 6:20
On the feast of St. Francis Xavier, December 3, 1995, I knelt before Mother Teresa with her hands folded over my hands as I promised to live her 4th vow: wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor. I have been serving the Sisters of Mother Teresa for over 30 years in the USA, Haiti, Rome, Albania, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Now we live near the Missionaries of Charity Fathers in Rimpa, Kenya under Bishop John Oballa Owaa. (This photo is from the MC Profession with our bishop. Fr. Brian [Superior General] is next to the bishop, then Fr. John, then me in the back and others.)
Our Family of JESUS attracts youth from all the surrounding slums, especially Kibera, the biggest slum in Africa. Muslims have joined us and are now Christians. Four of our youth feel called to religious life and began their profession on September 7th. We follow the inspirations of St. Mother Teresa, St John Bosco, St. Philip Neri and St. Francis Xavier.
In January, we moved from Nairobi to a safer home closer to the rural area in Rimpa, Kenya. ISIS was active in Nairobi killing innocent people, and our apartment there was too small to accommodate all the poor who were coming to us. With the help of ICM from Kansas and many others, we were able to purchase a 10-year-old home that was never finished. It now houses over 30 young men and myself and provides space for worship when our greater family joins us every Sunday.
This photo is from one of our Sunday Masses. Because we are all poor, we do not take a collection. Instead, we ask them to pick up fire wood on their way here so we can cook the rice and beans that we serve after Mass for all who come. We have half an acre with three gardens and room to raise chickens and turkeys. We are trying to become self-sufficient, but we still need good people like you to help us with our over-whelming needs. We are very grateful to those who contributed to our bore hole. It is not yet finished but hopefully soon.
Mother Teresa said: “LOVE TO PRAY—feel often during the day the need for prayer and take trouble to pray. Prayer enlarges the heart until your heart is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive JESUS.” We ask St. Mother Teresa to help us and also Fr. Augustus Tolton – the first African American priest, who was born a slave in Missouri but fled to Quincy, Illinois, during the Civil War that killed his father.
On May 24 next year, I will celebrate my 40th anniversary of priesthood. I was 30 years old when I was ordained. I am now 70 years old. My ordination card quotes 43:4 Isaiah: “You are precious in My Eyes and honored, and I love you.” On the reverse side are these words: “I asked GOD for strength that I might achieve – I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things – I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy – I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men – I was given weakness that I might feel the need of GOD. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life – I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am like all people – most richly blessed.”
Thank you JESUS for making me a missionary priest for the poorest of the poor. I am a very happy priest! PLEASE PRAY FOR US—THAT IS THE GREATEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE US. If you would like to keep in touch, use my email: email@example.com If you want to help us financially, we very much need and appreciate your gifts. We thank you deeply with our prayers for you and your families every day.
May God bless you all! We love you very much! Your brother, Fr. Ted