Tuesday, September 18, 2012

St. Gabriel Parish, Monrovia, Liberia

The newly constructed St. Gabriel's Church, Brewerville, Monrovia, Liberia.
Since September 6, I've been with Fr. Adrian Crowley - an Irish missionary priest - at St. Gabriel Parish in Brewerville on the western outskirts of the Liberian capitol city of Monrovia. It's the rainy season here and the water's been coming down in buckets, sometimes for as long as 12 hours straight, but still with a few hours of sunshine most days.

St. Mulumba Catechetists Center, located on the parish grounds.
Liberia was founded in the 1800s by former slaves from the United States. The first ten presidents or so were all American born. It has had a varied history since then, most notably an extended civil war overlapping with the presidency of Charles Taylor, recently convicted of crimes against humanity in the Intenational Criminal Court at the Hague for his role in the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Several of the Liberian women responsible for helping to end that conflict recently received the Nobel Peace Prize.

St. Gabriel's Rectory
The parish church has recently been reconstructed and much enlarged. There has been significant expansion in the congregation since Fr. Adrian arrived a few years ago. In addition to the church and the rectory (above), in the rear of the property are six small houses and several meeting rooms built for the formation of catechists. The meeting rooms are now used as part of the parish school, most of the buildings of which are located across and down the main road.

Fr. Adrian with John Tamba, principal of St. Gabriel School, and students painting desks for the new school year.
When I arrived the new school year was about to begin, so a lot of preparatory work was taking place at the school: the painting of classrooms and desks and organizing instructional materials.

While at St. Gabriel's I've been involved with a lot of different activities: Masses and Holy Hours, meeting with youth, the Pure in Heart chastity group, the Catholic Women's Organization, visits to outstations and other groups working in the area, as you'll see in the postings to follow.

Twice a month the Missionaries of Charity set up a mobile clinic at the parish for mothers and small children. Their presence has helped to save the lives of several very sick and malnourished children.
Missionaries of Charity mobile clinic for mothers and children.

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