The East African Vicariate (EAV) seeks to become a vice province within the next twenty years. It will require the vicariate to become financially independent. To this end, the Vicar and his Council recently established a vicariate development office headed by a director of development whose role is to coordinate fund raising for the vicariate. These experimental efforts involve sending African Dominicans from the vicariate to work in the US during the long break of the academic year. Those sent combine parochial ministry with fund raising efforts.
The experiment began last Fall when three African Dominicans from the vicariate worked in US parishes for one month. We extended the program this year to three months.
Preliminary results show that the program is promising. The African Dominicans had a wonderful experience working in the US parishes and were able to raise a significant amount of money for the vicariate. As well, Dominicans from the Province enjoyed working with the African Dominicans, and they hope to continue this cooperation.
Fr. Greg Maturi, OP, the development director for the vicariate, coordinated these efforts, as well as do some fund raising of his own. This past Summer he worked in the Tidewater area of southeastern Virginia (Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach). He also did some fund raising at three of the naval bases there (Little Creek Amphibious Base, Fort Story, and the Norfolk Naval Station), as well as in New York City and in Ohio. His efforts were very successful both in terms of the money raised and the connections established for future fund raising. We hope that in the future African Dominicans will be able to serve in these places, as well.
Fr. Greg’s fund raising is Dominican in nature. It involves going from Church to Church, preaching at Mass and getting to know the people. Typically it involves spending two weeks in a parish, preaching at Mass for three weekends, as well as the intervening two weeks of daily Masses. This time frame gives the parishioner’s time to hear him preach, learn about the mission, and get to know him personally. It also gives the pastor a two week vacation. After each Mass Fr. Greg offers self-addressed envelopes that people may use to make donations to the Dominican Mission in Kenya. He invites them to take one home, pray about it and think about, and if they choose to make a donation they can either mail in their donation or bring it to the church. This method of fund raising has a number of advantages over a one-time collection, and it seems to be more comfortable for the people. It also allows Dominicans to have an on-going relationship with those who donate.
Asking for money is very humbling but it is part of our life as mendicants. It requires us to live simply, for we have a fiduciary responsibility to those who give us money to use it frugally. After all, they made a sacrifice in giving it to us, so we have to make sacrifices in how we use it.
The Dominican mission in East Africa is a worthy cause, and Americans happily give to it. They are very generous. They love their Catholic faith and so wish to see the Church in Africa grow. Moreover, they benefit from giving, because only when we spend our money in a way that pleases God may it make us happy.