A heaven of care in the midst of AIDS hell

 "It actually started like in the good old romantic missionary times: A missionary is sent to a region as a "lone fighter". When he sets out to preach the gospel, he finds himself surrounded by crowds of people who need much more than just pious and good words. Then it's just like old times according to Bertolt Brecht's oft-quoted Threepenny Opera dictum: "First comes the food and then comes the morals", and for the profane person this is the prototype of the holistic method. If one had taken the trouble to leaf through the Bible, one would have encountered the prototype of holistic healing and holistic cure in Jesus, who heals the sick, feeds the hungry, comforts the mourning, opens the eyes of the blind, and reveals to us the perfection of his will to save precisely in that he leads us to faith, forgives sins and then calls us to follow him. "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" This is the centre of the missionary vocation and it must unfold as in the original missionary Christ in the care of the body, the spirit and the soul. That is why our missionary pioneers built hospitals, schools and churches, ran them with admirable zeal and made all three into places of experiencing God and thus experiencing salvation, i.e. they rendered profoundly missionary service.

Admittedly, in many of the former mission countries, the respective governments have now also built schools and hospitals or secularised the mission institutions, and in many cases this has been really successful and our ideals of good education and medical care are being continued. Nevertheless, our Catholic institutions have a special status and a very special vocation, and this applies to the whole one world."

This is written by Father Gerhard Lagleder from St. Ottilien, who was sent out on the Zulumission to our Inkamana Abbey on Epiphany Day 1987 and after three years as chaplain in Mahlabatini was sent by the abbot to the parishes of Mangete and Mandeni as parish priest in 1990.