Disciple – Out of God’s Love for the Poor
Praised be Jesus Christ. As part of the September episode of “The Disciple” section, we have prepared for you two testimonies of people who help the poor. These two testimonies are quite contrasting with each other. One of them was shot in Africa, where there is quite a lot of poverty and hunger, while the other one was shot in Denmark, where there is quite a lot of prosperity.
We invite you to listen to these two testimonies of those who collaborate with Redemptorists and learn about how they are helping the poor in their environment.
Missa’s and Gerard’s testimony
My name is Missies Messy Culisa and this is my husband Gerard Culisa. We’ve known the redemptorists from 22 years. Now we are the lay associates. I sit on the Redemptorists Development Trust board as secretary. The role of the redemptorists Trust is to fundrise to the all marginalized in our community.
The marginalized are the poor, the orphans, the elders.
How do we fundrise? We make candles from scratch, we sell paraffin, we sell pre-owned clothes. The money we get from all this we give to pay fees for the poor, to buy medications for the elders, we buy food for people. Our goal is to help people to have a better life.
Hello! My name is Mary Eleonore Christiansen. I’m 72 years old. I was born in Germany, so I grew up in Germany and then I got married to a Danish man in 1970 so we’ll soon have golden anniversary.
In all these 50 years I’ve been mostly a teacher in a German school – 25 years – and there I taught also religion. I explained the Bible in classes for children from 6 to 12 years old. I had religion lessons every week and I was very happy of that because I wanted to teach the children the main stories from the Bible.
After the German school I was a teacher for the unemployed people and also people on drugs. It was called Couferr School and, while I was there, I was more interested in social work in churches. I got an education as a kind of a protestant deacon in special school for protestants deacons (people responsible for social ministry). After that I could work in a protestant church for 16 years still being catholic. And there I was responsible for social work in a church, that means I helped people around the church, and I worked with people who wanted to do some voluntary work. I had about 25 groups.
When I was 67, I went to my pension and I thought to myself: “What can I do now?”. I started a kind of food waste project. Because our priest in a catholic church was Indian and his brother has a children home in India. He told us that these children home has financial problems and asked us if we could support it with our money, which was more valuable there in India. If we could give them 5000 coronas, they could use them like 50 000 coronas.
That was a very good idea because we have so much food wasted and we throw so much out and this is bad for the environment and for our country. So I went to the supermarket and asked if they would give me wasted food. Now, since 2011, I’ve picked up the food every morning. I asked also other supermarkets for help. I go and collect the food and other people can take it for donation or just buy it with 25 % discount. It’s a lot of money right now. Much more that we need to support those 5 children from India to become nurses. We support 5 girls going to nursing school and we pay for all stuff they need. And that’s about 1000 coronas a month, what is 120 €, for each student.
There is a lot of money left now, so right now we are planning to help children from Nairobi, Kenya, because my son lives in Nairobi. And the organization that helps me here has also a project in Nairobi’s slums.
And that’s it. I see that 4 minutes already gone but I have much more to say!
Every Monday I work in a prison. I do spiritual advising for the prisoners. It is catholic spiritual advising. I talk to prisoners mostly from catholic countries like Nigeria, Poland, Lithuania and from other countries, of course. But we have many prisoners from those countries. I organize one Mass a month with a catholic priest. It’s a good opportunity to get into contact with prisoners and asked them about their needs. It could be clothes, a call to their families, that could be books, that could be a soup… because coming from other countries they do not know how the prison works.
There is a lot I can do for them every Monday. I go and sing “Happy birthday” for those prisoners who have their birthday. They would get a cake. That is always a nice way to be on mission, because I can also talk with Muslims and people from a lot of countries. And some of them are really interested in why I’m doing this voluntary work. And it’s because I love it. And that’s my motivation for all my work. It’s love. Because I know that God loves me so much that I have to give the love to the others. So I’m a kind of channel. I think I get so much love especially from adoration. I feel God filling my heart so it flows over and then I just have to do something. I just follow my heart. So that’s what I do. Thank you!
Authors: Mary Eleonore Christiansen,