Society Matters | Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024

1 Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 Society Matters Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous works among all the peoples! (1 Chronicles 16:24) A NEWSLETTER OF THE DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES INC - AUSTRALIA PROVINCE Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 Society Matters

Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 2 Society Matters Message from the Provincial Superior Dear Friends, Welcome to the Winter Edition of Society Matters. In this edition you will read some uplifting stories of the work that SVD missionaries are doing in Africa. In Zambia, SVD parishes are not only the centre of sacramental life in towns and villages, but are also providing programs to educate and empower young people and provide home support for the elderly and sick. And what a delight it is to read an account of our former seminarian Edward Teye SVD, who is now assistant priest at a parish in Zimbabwe. Edward completed his theology studies and missionary formation at Dorish Maru College in Melbourne and was asked by the SVD Superior-General to go to Zimbabwe as his first assignment. Although this was not the place that Edward had asked to go, he willingly accepted the assignment and is now joyfully doing wonderful ministry with the youth of the parish. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading Edward’s story. Let us keep him in our prayers, along with all our former AUS Province seminarians who are now out serving in mission across the world. And speaking of prayers, you will read on Page 8 about the upcoming SVD General Chapter in Nemi, near Rome, where we will gather to discuss the mission, life and future directions of the Society of the Divine Word. I will attend on behalf of the Australia Province, as will Fr Prakash Menezes SVD from Alice Springs. Please keep us in your prayers as we take part in this significant event. Yours in the Word, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD Provincial Superior Cover Story: The Divine Word Missionaries in Zambia have thanked the SVD AUS Province and benefactors for supporting a range of projects to assist parishioners in education, health care and youth empowerment. Read more on Pages 4 & 5. Appeal Office: 199 Epping Road, Marsfield NSW Locked Bag 3, Epping NSW 1710 Australia Telephone: +61 2 9868 2666 Victoria: 100 Albion Road, Box Hill, Vic 3128 Tel: +61 3 9890 0065 Queensland: 96 Lilac Street Inala QLD 4077 Tel: +61 7 3372 5658 New Zealand: 41 Britannia Street, Petone, 5046 Tel: +64 4 971 7885 Published by Divine Word Missionaries Incorporated, ABN 51 885 667 646

3 Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 Society Matters Cuong gives thanks as he takes final vows and is ordained to diaconate Cuong Quoc Dang SVD’s profession of final vows as a Divine Word Missionary in Box Hill, Melbourne, in March, followed by his ordination as a deacon, were pivotal moments in a winding, but grace-filled vocational journey. Accompanied by his mother and parish priest, who travelled from Vietnam to share in the joy of the occasion, Cuong was also surrounded by fellow Divine Word Missionaries and other religious and lay people connected to the SVDs. Cuong’s journey to religious life began in Vietnam, then led him to Thailand, where he experienced a spiritual awakening amidst the bustling streets of Bangkok. Notable to Cuong’s vocational discernment was his encounter with Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD, an SVD priest dedicated to serving Vietnamese Catholic migrants in Bangkok. Witnessing Fr Anthony’s commitment to accompanying and empowering the marginalised, broadened Cuong’s understanding of priestly ministry, transcending traditional pastoral roles to encompass advocacy and social justice. In 2016, Cuong entered the SVD Australia Province as a postulant, becoming the first Vietnamese migrant worker in Thailand to be accepted. Cuong spent the following year learning English and then completed his Novitiate in the Philippines where he took his first vows. He then undertook theology studies in Australia and professed his final vows at Box Hill in Melbourne. Preaching on the Gospel chosen for the day, Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD said Cuong must make the Logos, the Word made flesh, the centre of his missionary life. “I pray and hope that you Cuong will cultivate an awareness of the Logos in all creation, and awareness of the Word of God in the world and work towards restoring creation … and be a witness always to the Light and the Truth,” Fr Rass said. After indicating his resolve to proceed, Cuong lay prostrate as the Litany of Saints was sung over him. He then made his vows of poverty, chastity and obedience according to the SVD Constitutions. “I cannot be here today without the help and support of many people,” Cuong said at the end of the Perpetual Vows celebration. “From my parents, mentors, and fellow Divine Word Missionaries to the wider community, each has played a significant role in my vocation journey. It has been a winding and complicated journey filled with challenges but also opportunities for me to learn, grow, and transform.” The following day, Cuong was ordained to the diaconate by Melbourne Auxiliary Bishop Terence Curtin. He was clothed in his deacon’s vestments by his mother and Fr Anthony, who travelled from Thailand to attend the celebrations. Speaking afterwards, he thanked God, his parents and confreres, academic professors, tutors, spiritual directors and all who had helped him on his journey and asked those present to continue to pray for him in the journey ahead. Cuong’s first mission assignment will be to Angola after ordination to the priesthood later this year.

Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 4 Society Matters SVD parishes in Zambia providing social outreach to help those in need The Divine Word Missionaries in Zambia are meeting the pressing needs of the villagers in their communities by running a range of innovative programs for youth empowerment, health, education and housing assistance. St Charles Lwanga Parish in Kabwe has grown and matured as a parish since its establishment in 1996, said the parish priest, Fr Silvio Borges SVD. “As children grow up and new faces appear in the parish, there is a need for youth to know their faith and how to handle the challenges of today,” he said. “These challenges demand that our youth become even more rooted in their Catholic faith and are empowered to stand against these pressures.” Thanks to donations, including from the SVD Australia Province through the generosity of our partners in mission, the Zambia Mission was able to establish a program of youth training, with facilitators brought in from the diocese and government institutions, such as the police. “The impact of the subsidy was indeed tremendous and was a service to the whole parish community,” Fr Silvio said. “Because of the subsidy, we were able to hold the seminar and train volunteers to help in the ministry of accompanying the youth. As a result, the whole parish benefited.” Fr Silvio extended his thanks to the SVD Generalate and to the SVD Australia Province and benefactors who have supported the project. In the parish of St Arnold Janssen in Mwandi, the SVD has been helping poor families with their educational needs. Parish priest Fr Roman Janowski SVD said that two years ago, the government of Zambia made a policy that all public schools would have free education, and the mission schools would be half-sponsored. “It was a great help to the parents after many years of paying very high school fees together with their other responsibilities,” he said. “However, the school challenges were only partly solved, because the demands for school uniforms and educational materials still remained a big financial challenge for parents and guardians. “In this situation, this project was very helpful, especially for those families who have many children and their situation is very poor.” Fr Roman said the parish was also able to organise two educational workshops to help the students to become more familiar with their school programs and to become knowledgeable in avoiding AIDS. “Generally, the project was very helpful for our community and the parish,” he said. “Many children and their parents Thanksgiving Mass for the donors - Mwandi Education Parish Youth Empowerment

5 Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 Society Matters were very happy with this educational program and are most grateful to the Australia Province and all our cherished sponsors of the project. They hope to have more similar programs in the future.” As well as the education assistance program, the St Arnold Janssen Parish has been working on a program of home support for elderly and sick parishioners. The parish is composed of the main church in Mwandi and 11 outstations. “In the outstations, the people mainly live as peasant farmers and those who stay close to the river do fishing,” Fr Roman said. “In these villages quite often, there are no proper clinics and health facilities, and they are without medicines to treat patients. “This is why our people have to walk a long distance to get to the nearest mini hospital available. Through the help of this project, we helped those patients to buy their medications. In some cases, we also helped them with transport to get them to the nearest mini hospital.” Fr Roman said the parish has also helped the farming families to repair their housing. “The rainy season is very good for farming, but at the same time, it destroys poorly built houses,” he said. “This year, our community, with the help of this project, managed to rebuild partially collapsed houses. “There was a great spirit of cooperation and commitment from the villagers themselves. Also, our community was involved in identifying people with various needs. From that identification of their main and pressing needs we helped them accordingly. Generally, this project was quite successful. “The SVD ZAM Mission together with all our beneficiaries of this project are very grateful to our cherished donors and the SVD Australia Province. God bless you all.” Meanwhile, in the Parish of St Francis in Dambwa, the SVD has been empowering the local youth by establishing a poultry farm. “This project was a huge blessing for our youth,” said Parish Priest Fr Wendefredus Natun SVD. “The reason is that many people, including our youth, were affected economically by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The majority of the people, including our youth in Simoonga Outstation, lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Through this Poultry Project, our youth have been encouraged to learn new skills, especially the skills involved in managing a community project by keeping, feeding, nursing and selling the chickens.” The Poultry Project got underway in February last year with the arrival of the first 100 broiler chicks and has now gone into its fourth round. “The little income received from the selling of chickens is used for two major priorities. The first is to manage the continuation of the project, and the second is to give a small loan to five identified youth for the duration of three months to do personal business activity, with a little interest on top so that the other youth can have the chance to benefit as well – it is a pass-on project,” Fr Wendefredus said. “We sincerely thank the SVD Generalate in Rome, together with our beloved benefactors from the SVD Australia Province for your great support and generosity. May the almighty God bless you abundantly.” The parish has helped families repair their housing Chidwin Youth

Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 6 Society Matters Fr Edward letting his ‘light shine’ in first missionary assignment Fr Edward Teye, who was born and raised in Ghana and underwent part of his formation in Australia, says his enthusiasm for his first missionary assignment in Zimbabwe remains as high as the first day he arrived, despite the various challenges presented by a different culture and language. Fr Edward has been in Zimbabwe for about two years, living and working in the capital city of Harare at the Holy Cross Parish Budiriro, which is located about 21 km from the Central Business District. He says he has been busy since his arrival, first learning the ChiShona language, and also engaging in parish youth ministry. “Learning a new language for missionary work is a great challenge,” he says. “However, after six months in the language school and six weeks of practice in the village, my Shona has improved drastically. “Assigned as Assistant Priest and the Spiritual Director of Youth Ministry, I promptly engaged with youth recollections, youth retreats, and youth pilgrimages which took us far and wide.” Fr Edward says that his faith and missionary vocation was deeply influenced by the faith of his great grandparents, who had him baptised and introduced him to Marian spirituality, as well as SVD priests he encountered. Becoming an altar server at his parish also played a key role in his faith formation. He first encountered the SVD while growing up with his great grandparents at Sekesua, a farming village in the Lower Manya District in the Eastern Region. “I was greatly influenced by SVD Missionaries who used to pass by our home on their way to their Mission Station at Osonson,” he says. “When my great grandfather died in1992 and I moved to Odumase Krobo to live with my grandparents, there, at the Holy Trinity Parish I met Fr Clement Hortse SVD (deceased) and Fr John Acheampong SVD who motivated me a lot by the kind of life they lived.” Before joining the SVD, Edward studied Civil Engineering and then tried his hand in various work environments. “In 2011 as a Technician Civil Engineer having fun on various construction projects in Ghana, I decided to respond to the deep-seated desire of my heart to be a priest,” he said. After completing his three-year postulancy and philosophical studies and then the Novitiate program in Ghana, he was assigned to Australia in 2015 to Study Theology and to complete his basic formation at Dorish Maru College, Melbourne. Edward took his final SVD vows in 2020 and was ordained a deacon, carrying out his diaconal pastoral ministry during the COVID-19 pandemic, at St Francis Xavier Parish in Box Hill. “Fr Tony Kerin, my great mentor, and the generous parishioners afforded me the opportunity to learn and to prepare adequately for my future priesthood ministry,” he said. Edward was ordained to the priesthood on November 27, 2021, together with four other Divine Word Missionaries at the Our Lady of La Vang Shrine in Keysborough, Melbourne. Parishioners gathered outdoors for Mass while the church was being repaired.

7 Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 Society Matters His assignment to Zimbabwe came as a surprise, but one that he has embraced. “To be frank I did not choose to work in Zimbabwe, I was asked by Father General to accept first mission assignment to Zimbabwe,” he says. Although disappointed not to have been assigned to one of the three choices he had been asked to give, Edward says he was comforted that he was obeying the will of his Superior General. “Now, I feel so satisfied that I said yes to Fr Budi, my Superior General, because I do not only feel fulfilled in my mission, I feel this was God’s will for me,” he says. Fr Edward says his ministry with the youth of Holy Cross Parish Budiriro has been a wonderful experience. “Last year, we organised the parish youth pilgrimage to TrisHill in the Muntare Diocese, and then later, a youth visit to our sister parish in the countryside to inspire the church youth there,” he says. “Then the youth led the parish in a memorable ‘Crowing of the October Rosary Month. Our parish choir is also known all over the Zimbabwe Catholic landscape for its music prowess, coming first in many choir competitions. “As music is highly participatory in our parish, I organised an ‘Easter Praise’ music festival during the Easter Vigil, where choirs from the eight zones of the parish sang joyfully to praise Christ’s Resurrection. I experienced great joy as every parishioner danced to the glory of God.” Fr Edward says that when he first arrived in the parish, there were no church building as the church construction had just commenced. “Studying in Australia and worshiping in beautiful churches, I now found myself in Zimbabwe where Masses were being held in the rain or in the hot sun in the open,” he says. “Now we have a roof over our heads but there is more work that needs to be done to complete the church.” Also among the challenges was the need to build up the parish youth ministry, with only a few young people turning up to the youth Masses when he first arrived. “So, I decided to offer pizza and soft drinks after every youth Mass,” he says. “Surprisingly, the youth weekly participation in the weekly Masses went up to over 100. From the generous donations of a few people in the parish, I am able to keep the youthmass-pizza-soft drinks running. I see it as a time to pray, to bond and to share youth experiences together.” Fr Edward said Harare is not immune from the widespread social issue of youth drugs and substance abuse. To help combat this he has, together with youth advisors, begun providing talks on substance abuse and its harmful effects. And, recognising that many of the young people do not have much money, but are looking for activities to take part in, Fr Edward organised the parish’s first Youth Picnic on Easter Monday. “It was a beautiful occasion to relax and celebrate our youthful joy in the Risen Christ,” he says. Despite the various challenges he is encountering, Edward says “I always let my light shine”. “To let my ‘light shine’ for me is to bloom where I am planted. So, my enthusiasm for mission is as high as the first day I arrived here, living among the people, learning their language and bringing them the light of the gospel. “I am especially enjoying my ministry with the parish youth. Indeed the future of Mother Church is so bright in view of the active youthful exuberance among the future leaders in our parish.” Fr Edward (second from left) with parish youth.

Volume 34 No. 2 | Winter 2024 8 Society Matters SVD General Chapter calls for faithful and creative disciples in a wounded world Two members of the SVD Australia Province will take part in the 19th SVD General Chapter getting underway in Nemi, near Rome in June. Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, will be joined by Fr Prakash Menezes SVD who is currently assigned as parish priest in Alice Springs. The theme for the General Chapter is: “Your light must shine before others: Faithful and creative disciples in a wounded world.” Each SVD province and mission around the world was asked to reflect on a range of questions on various aspects of the Chapter theme and provide responses within their own local missionary context. Fr Prakash was appointed to the Second International Preparatory Commission, which met in Rome in April and had the task of synthesising the reports from around the world into a working document, or Instrumentum Laboris, for the Chapter. The method was modelled on that used for Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality. Fr Rass said he was inspired by the theme of the General Chapter and by the synodal approach to its preparation and procedure. “I ask our confreres, friends and partners in mission to pray for us and with us as we participate in the Chapter and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the SVD so that we can indeed let our God-given light shine and be faithful and creative disciples in an increasingly wounded world,” he said. A Newsletter of the Divine Word Missionaries Inc - Australia Province Donations to the SVD AUS Province Overseas Aid Fund can be made online at or by mailing to Divine Word Missionary Appeal Office, Locked Bag 3, Epping NSW, 1710, Australia. +61 2 9868 9015 @svdaus Society Matters Mission Mass League - let us pray for you and your family Have you heard of The Mission Mass League? It is the prayer association of the Society of the Divine Word and it has been in operation around the world for more than 100 years. The Mission Mass League was canonically established by the Divine Word Missionaries in 1910. Its purpose is to help serve your spiritual needs and support the ministry of the Divine Word Missionaries. We invite our faithful mission partners to participate in the Mission Mass League by enrolling their loved ones, living or deceased, and their special needs. “Enrolment in the League is a spiritual gift,” says SVD AUS Province Mission Secretary, Fr Viet Nguyen SVD. “It expresses the donor’s thoughtfulness or their condolences. Enrolments are appropriate in illness or for a death. Enrolments may also be sent to Divine Word Missionaries in recognition of birthdays and anniversaries or other notable occasions. “In that way they are linked spiritually to the masses and prayers of more than 6,000 Divine Word priests, brothers and seminarians around the world, ensuring that your special intentions will be remembered.” Five masses in seven different countries are expressly celebrated each day for Mission Mass League members. The donor will receive a special membership certificate. Membership enrolments are available in four categories: One year or Perpetual for Individuals and One year or Perpetual for Families. Papal approval was given for the Mission Mass League by Pope Pius XII and has been confirmed by all succeeding pontiffs. “We highly recommend the Mission Mass League. It is our ardent desire and hope that it will be a source of support for the Church in her missionary work. To all who are enrolled and to those who spread the Mission Mass League I give my Apostolic Blessing” (Vatican, 3/11/1979) Prayer for the 19th General Chapter We thank You, O Triune God, You give light, you are light, you inspire light We contemplate with our Founder St. Arnold Janssen: “How merciful is God’s love that has opened the light of my eyes and now I should enlighten others as well.” Illumine us to recognize the wounds that need healing, inspire us to be faithful in our vocation and creative disciples in our mission. As we prepare for the next General Chapter, accompany us in our journey together. Bless every member of our Arnoldus family. Blessed Mary, Mother of the Word, help us to deepen our commitment to Jesus your Son who asks us: Your light must shine before others. Amen.