Imagine a huge city teeming with more than 16 million people, Dhaka, in a country of 165 million but only the size of Wisconsin with a Catholic population of less than one percent. That is Bangladesh, home to Holy Cross Family Ministries’ exciting, recently dedicated and blessed new ministry center.
Imagine a second huge city of more than 12 million people, Bangalore, the Garden City of India, home to the just completed, blessed, and dedicated Peyton Institute for Families. India is a country of one billion, 382 million people with a Catholic population of 1.7 %.
These two events represent major advances in Holy Cross Family Ministries pastoral outreach to families around the world with the message that families that pray together stay together. It is not surprising that in both Bangladesh and India, many people of other religions join in family prayer and public celebrations of the family. Muslims, Hindus, and other Christians feel welcome and benefit from family counseling and prayer services for the family.
In societies with so few Christians, Catholic hospitals of superior quality and schools of excellence at all levels are helping to build up a society that values the dignity of all persons, male and female, rich and poor, high born, and low born. While serving all peoples, the Catholic Church promotes its values of justice, integrity, solidarity, and the golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Children and parents of other religions, in Catholic schools, offer no resistance to praying Catholic prayers and joining in non-Eucharistic celebrations during the school day.
I was thinking about this reality in praying over the challenging gospel of today’s Lenten Mass. The unfaithful and cruel tenants of the vineyard beat some of the master’s servants, kill others and stone still others. The master sends even more servants, and the tenants repeat their assaults on the servants. Finally, he sends his own son thinking “they will at least respect my son.” We know the sad outcome!
Friends, I think there is a lesson for all of us in this parable. God has blessed us with so much in entrusting us with service in his vineyard, in the Kingdom of God. What if we are sometimes the unfaithful tenants, not doing all we can to build up the Kingdom of God in the small portion of the Vineyard entrusted to each of us? After visiting our fellow Christians in countries like India and Bangladesh, where they serve with such devotion and fidelity the Lord Jesus Christ and his Church, I am challenged to be more faithful in my own vocation and refreshed and inspired by what I observe to look for ways to be and do more, especially to help families pray and grow closer to God.
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About Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
Father Wilfred J. Raymond, C.S.C. (Father Willy), a native of Old Town, Maine, is the eighth of 12 children. He joined the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1964 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Stonehill College in 1967 and a master’s in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. He served in ministry at Stonehill College (1979-1992), Holy Cross leadership (1994-2000), National Director of Family Theater Productions, Hollywood (2000-2014), and President of Holy Cross Family Ministries (2014-2022). In addition to English, he is conversant in French and Spanish. He remains a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox, even though he has served as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers.