Back to School!

Students gather every morning during devotion for prayer and announcements.

Students gather every morning during devotion for prayer and announcements.

It has only been a little over three weeks since classes resumed at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, but everyone is working hard to make sure that the academic year 2019-2020 is the best yet! Our students are feeling rejuvenated after their summer break, and our teachers are renewing their efforts to give quality education to all, from the youngest boy to the oldest girl.

I love coming to St. Anthony’s everyday because it is a healthy working environment. All of us employees show each other respect as we strive to provide a quality education for the students.
— Joseph S. Kulah, Principal of St. Anthony of Padua
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However, it is a difficult time in Liberia. The economic situation is complicated, and many families are finding it hard to provide the basic necessities, including education, for their children. The registration count for St. Anthony’s was low heading into September, so we decided to extend the deadline for those families that couldn’t make the payments. The extension proved to be successful, and many families were able to register their children because they had the opportunity to save a little bit of extra money. Praise God!

Students at St. Anthony’s receive a quality education in a nurturing environment.

Students at St. Anthony’s receive a quality education in a nurturing environment.

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I feel joyful when I’m teaching because the students respond positively to me, and I can feel the impact that education is having on their lives. I have a passion for teaching, and it makes me feel so good.”
— Yassah B. Korboi, 1st grade teacher

There are several more reasons to celebrate in this new school year: new school desks, freshly painted walls, and brand-new P.E. uniforms! Our B.W.I. and St. Kizito students worked hard to build new desks for their brothers and sisters during the Summer Work Program; they also painted the school and mission facilities. Also, all of the students at St. Anthony’s received brand-new, polyester P.E. uniforms. They will last much longer than the cotton ones of years past. Everyone is so happy for all of these developments, and we thank all who donated towards this possibility!

New school desks provide better surfaces to write on.

New school desks provide better surfaces to write on.

St. Anthony of Padua gives me a quality education. The teachers do everything in their effort to help students understand the lessons.
— Aaron, 9th grade
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Our students appreciate St. Anthony’s freshly painted walls.

Our students appreciate St. Anthony’s freshly painted walls.

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I love the emphasis on religious activities. I also appreciate the importance put on discipline because I see its benefit in my life outside of school.
— Veronica, 8th grade
One young student is happy to receive her brand-new P.E. uniform.

One young student is happy to receive her brand-new P.E. uniform.

Even though the year has just begun, so much has happened in the life of St. Anthony’s and Liberia Mission. There is also much to look forward to, such as quizzing competitions, our annual soccer league, and special “color days” with games and food.  Our ninth-graders will learn the value of serving others through their service project requirement while our youngest students begin the important journey of learning to read and write.  There is such a broad spectrum of achievement at St. Anthony’s and Liberia Mission; and with God’s help, we hope to continue to raise the bar for ourselves and our neighbor so that Liberia will have educated, faithful future leaders. Thank you for all of your support!

Our students are grateful for all of the support!

Our students are grateful for all of the support!

Liberia Mission's Summer Work Program

Nupuwo, one of our graduating high school students, is seen here as he makes renovations to the St. Isidore Piggery.

Nupuwo, one of our graduating high school students, is seen here as he makes renovations to the St. Isidore Piggery.

The Summer Work Program at Liberia Mission is an annual employment opportunity for some of our sponsored high school students.  We have different projects every summer which we hire students to do, giving them income and job experience while helping us beautify the campus. The money that the students earn helps them to purchase books and school supplies for the upcoming academic year.  They also learn valuable, practical work skills in the process. All of the funding for the projects comes from the generosity of our sponsors.

Olena and Ezekiel know that teamwork is the key to getting the job done well…and fast!

Olena and Ezekiel know that teamwork is the key to getting the job done well…and fast!

Summer Work is back in 2019, and as the Liberians say, “We nah make it lazy, O!”—in other words, we’re working hard!  We have various projects that are nearing completion this summer, namely the production of over 450 new desks for the students of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School and the painting of the school and mission buildings.  We are also making minor renovations to our piggery and maintaining the crops on our farm.  There are always many challenges, such as heavy rainfall (it is the heart of the rainy season), or a malfunctioning generator; but we know that if we work together, we will always pull through in the end.

Ben is seen here showing Kokulo and Alfred the correct way to use the planer.

Ben is seen here showing Kokulo and Alfred the correct way to use the planer.

            This past year, we noticed that many of our school desks were in disrepair.  Thanks to the generosity of our donors and benefactors, we were able to purchase good, quality wood and power tools necessary to get the job done well.  Our students who knew how to use the tools instructed those who did not on how to operate them.  It has been a fun, collaborative effort to plane, sand, and assemble the pieces of wood into what will soon become new desks for their brothers and sisters.

Precious is helping the others paint our library.

Precious is helping the others paint our library.

            Meanwhile, we have also begun painting our school and mission buildings.  The walls of St. Anthony can become quite dirty during the school year, so we make the effort every year to give them all a fresh coat of paint.  In addition to the school buildings, we have painted our security booth, library, and dining hall.  Again, our students have been working together toward a common goal; and in addition to the money they make and the service they provide, they also learn the benefits and joys of teamwork.

Matthew is “brushing” on the farm. Brushing is the Liberian term for cutting the grass.

Matthew is “brushing” on the farm. Brushing is the Liberian term for cutting the grass.

            There are always many other small jobs and maintenance tasks that are required to keep the mission operational, and our summer workers are called upon to fulfill these tasks as they arise.  In addition to minor electrical and plumbing work, our students also helped maintain our piggery and farm by brushing (Liberian term for cutting the grass) and feeding our pigs.  There is never a lack of work at Liberia Mission!

St. Anthony of Padua recently resumed classes, and the students are sooo happy with their new desks!

St. Anthony of Padua recently resumed classes, and the students are sooo happy with their new desks!

All of these projects and renovations would not be possible without the gifts of our donors. YOU make our vocational program possible and are directly impacting the lives of our student workers. We are so grateful. If you would like to support our summer work program, you can make a gift and note that it is for our work program in the "Gift Note" box. Thank you to each person who shares in our lives and makes the work of LMI a reality everyday.

Meet Our Graduates

We are so proud to announce 21 high school students will be graduating from our program in August and October. Their hard work and your support has made this milestone possible and we are grateful for both.

We want to highlight the stories of a few of our graduates so you could see first hand the amazing impact you are having in Liberia. Please enjoy the story of Willamena, Joseph and Emmanuel.

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Willamena’s Story

“Before entering the program at Liberia Mission, I was living with my mother, three brothers, and three sisters in a small village named Whiteplain.  My mother never completed her education, so we grew up very poor as she struggled to provide for us financially by doing various jobs in the bush, such as working on a farm or cutting down small trees for coal.  I can remember there were many holes in our roof during the rainy season.  

Most of the girls in my village already have children; and although I look forward to having a big family one day, I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on the future I am striving to create for myself.
— Willamena

I have been at Liberia Mission since 2008.  I began in 3rd grade. St. Anthony’s really built a good foundation for me and helped me focus on my lessons.  I was going to a small public school back in my village, but I wasn’t able to learn much there. The mission also built up my faith, and now I’m more dedicated than ever to worshiping God.  Most of the girls in my village already have children; and although I look forward to having a big family one day, I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on the future I am striving to create for myself.

I look forward to continuing my studies in the field of agriculture at the University of Liberia.  One day I would love to have my own farm with many employees. I want to help increase development in the agricultural sector in order to reduce poverty in Liberia.”

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Joseph’s Story

“Before coming to Liberia Mission, I was not in school.  I was helping my parents work on our small farm in a village near Gbarnga.  I would also fish and set traps in the bush for animals so that we could have some meat to eat.  One day representatives from Liberia Mission came to our village looking for potential candidates for the program.  My father was friends with our town chief, who recommended that I go to Liberia Mission.

Liberia Mission took me from a place where I had no hope for education and gave me the opportunity to develop my passion for agriculture. 
— Joseph

Liberia Mission took me from a place where I had no hope for education and gave me the opportunity to develop my passion for agriculture.  I have had many opportunities to gain experience by working on the mission’s large farm. We also have cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and donkeys.  I have discovered that I have a real passion for animals. Liberia Mission has also greatly increased the quality of my faith in God. Back at home I didn’t go to church, but now I look forward to it every week.  I even serve Mass as an altar server.

I want to study agriculture at the University of Liberia; because I have discovered a true passion for animals, I would like to focus on animal science and eventually become a veterinarian.  I hope to one day have a family and be able to give back to Liberia Mission.”

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Emmanuel’s Story

“When I was young, I used to go to a public school in Weala, a small village.  I had six brothers and one sister. My father used to work for SRC (Salala Rubber Company), and things were OK.  However, he became ill and was taken to a country doctor in the bush. He couldn’t go to work anymore, and I dropped out of school to work on my family’s small farm.  One day a group came from Liberia Mission, and our town chief, who I used to do small jobs for, told my father that I should enter the program.

I am fortunate to have had this opportunity for a good education and real-life work experience because none of my brothers or sisters have ever received this kind of possibility. 
— Emmanuel

I am fortunate to have had this opportunity for a good education and real-life work experience because none of my brothers or sisters have ever received this kind of possibility.  I didn’t go to church back at home, but Liberia Mission helped me to understand and appreciate my faith more.

I want to study agriculture at the University of Liberia.  One day I would like to have my own farm with crops and animals, like the mission.  Then I could come back to the mission and give back in various ways, either by giving donations or teaching work.”


It is your support that has made our students like Willamena, Joseph and Emmanuel have the financial support they needed to stay in school. Thank you for helping empower them with a high school diploma!

Why We Teach Girls

We believe all children should be in school, regardless of their gender. Unfortunately, many girls in Liberia and around the world still lack access to eduction.

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We work hard in Liberia to ensure girls not only enroll, but stay in school. In fact, fifty-three percent of the students at our St. Anthony of Padua School are girls! We support them by providing tuition subsidies and scholarships to make sure poverty does not prevent them from learning.

Check out the video below to learn why it is so important to teach girls:

To help us ensure the girls in our community have access to education, please give to our female student scholarship fundraiser!

"I've always believed that when you educate a girl, you empower a nation."

-Queen Rania of Jordan

Liberia Mission Celebrates Easter

From painting Easter eggs to performing in a drama, check out how our community celebrated the Easter Triduum this year.

Celebrating Holy Week

Our Easter celebration 2019 was a success!  All of the Liberia Mission family —students from university, B.W.I., St. Kizito, and St. Anthony of Padua — were represented on campus for Holy Week this year. Our activities prepared us for that moment when we could proclaim, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed, alleluia!” Enjoy this post sharing about each day in the Easter Triduum (the days from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday).

Holy Thursday

Student’s celebrating Seder meal on Holy Thursday.

Student’s celebrating Seder meal on Holy Thursday.

On Holy Thursday, we had a traditional Passover meal, complete with lamb, bitter herbs, and candles. The Passover meal is a long-standing tradition at Liberia Mission because it teaches us that the Mass was not an invention of the apostles or a meal Jesus created.  It was a transformation of a Jewish liturgy — the Seder.

Everyone in our community enjoyed taking part of this meal and it was a beautiful start to our Easter Triduum. That evening, Fr. Yao came to celebrate Mass with us and performed the washing of the feet on members of our faith community. At the end of the Mass, Fr. Yao took the Eucharist to the altar of repose the students had made earlier in the week. We stayed with Jesus until midnight, singing praise and worship songs and having moments of silent prayer.

Fr. Yao washing the feet of our community members.

Fr. Yao washing the feet of our community members.

Good Friday

On Good Friday we traveled down the road to join our brothers and sister from St. Francis Xavier outstation. Our students put on a Passion drama that showed all that Jesus did for us in His final hours on Earth. As Pilate handed Him over to be crucified, we began praying the Stations of the Cross in a procession, heading towards St. Francis Xavier. It was very powerful as we walked along the Kakata Highway (one of Liberia’s busiest roads). Everybody who was working, selling, or driving motorbike taxis stopped to take in our procession. It was as if the whole world stopped to witness Jesus’ story as we passed by.

The Passion Drama processing along Kakata Highway.

The Passion Drama processing along Kakata Highway.

When we reached St. Francis, we began our Good Friday service. Fr. Deepak talked about the importance of silence on Good Friday. Indeed, we had been observing silence at Liberia Mission on that day, not ringing bells for activities nor speaking loudly. After Fr. Deepak’s homily, we had the Veneration of the Holy Cross and communion. We then left St. Francis Xavier and headed back to Liberia Mission, pondering the price Jesus paid for all our sins.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday, we continued with a silent atmosphere as we prepared for the Easter Vigil Mass. We also prepared for Easter Sunday. We painted eggs for our Easter egg hunt, prepared food ahead of time for our Easter feast, decorated our chapel and prepared a bonfire for the Vigil Mass!  

Eggs waiting to be painted for the Sunday hunt!

Eggs waiting to be painted for the Sunday hunt!

Vigil Mass began around 9 p.m. as we all gathered around the bonfire outside the chapel. We celebrated Jesus as the light of the world and entered the chapel, each with a candle in his/her hand. The Vigil Mass is long but beautiful. It is also the time when people who want to become Catholic receive the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. One of our very own students, James, received both, along with six other members of our faith community!  After Mass our students remained in the chapel until midnight, singing, dancing, and proclaiming the risen Christ.

Our students gathered in our chapel for the Vigil Mass.

Our students gathered in our chapel for the Vigil Mass.

Easter Sunday

Students loved gathering Easter eggs during the Sunday Hunt.

Students loved gathering Easter eggs during the Sunday Hunt.

Easter Sunday began in the morning with the Holy Mass. Our chapel was packed with faithful dressed in their very best! After the Mass, all the children rushed out of the chapel to begin the Easter egg hunt. Everyone was searching for the golden egg, which comes with a reward. Many eggs were hidden, but only one would be golden! It was one of our B.W.I. students, Titus, who found the golden egg in the end. Our director, John Alpha, rewarded him with 5 U.S. dollars, a worthy reward, indeed!

Titus with the Golden Egg!

Titus with the Golden Egg!

As the Easter egg hunt was coming to an end, many preparations were still being made for our Easter feast. “We na’ make it lazy, O!”—which is the Liberian way of saying, “We didn’t cut any corners!” And we didn’t! We roasted a whole pig on our homemade, outdoor oven. There was also fried chicken, potato salad, rice and gravy, and soft drinks. Needless to say, a long nap followed our meal! It was a very beautiful day, filled with faith, friendship, and fun.

Preparation for our Easter feast!

Preparation for our Easter feast!

Our Easter Triduum this year was a very special one.  We upheld many long-standing traditions unique to Liberia Mission that allowed us to enter into the mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.  We look forward to next year, when we can do it all again! Alleluia!


St. Anthony's First Honors Program Ceremony

First Ever Honors Program Ceremony

Earlier this month, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School hosted its first ever Honors Program Ceremony in St. Michael the Archangel Chapel. The ceremony celebrated students whose grade average was 85 or above for the first semester. Additionally, high honors and special recognitions were given to those students with a grade average of 91 or above. The atmosphere in the chapel was electric, and we were also excited to see such a big turnout of parents, who occupied over half of the chapel!

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Recognizing Hard Work

At the beginning of the program, the school administration informed all in attendance that good grades would not go unnoticed at St. Anthony’s. At the end of the school year, anyone having a 91 or above cumulative average for the year 2018/2019 would receive a full tuition scholarship for the following academic year! Anyone having between 85-91 would receive a half-tuition scholarship. Also, any 9th grader having a 91 or above for the year would receive a full tuition scholarship to the Booker Washington Institute (Liberia’s premiere vocational high school, where most of our sponsored high school students go).

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Talent Presentations

Before certificates were handed out, a number of honorees showcased their knowledge and skills with poem recitations, song solos, and various speeches that highlighted different aspects of the education they have received at St. Anthony’s. All in attendance—especially the parents—were visibly impressed as the students displayed their gift for learning.  

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Certificate Ceremony

Finally, it was time to recognize the honors students. Proud parents rushed to embrace their children as they received their certificates. Many pictures were taken and many tears of joy were shed. We are grateful to God for the spirit of joy shared during the ceremony and all the hard work our students put in to get good grades!  

Our Lenten Retreat

On Saturday, March 30, we had a Lenten retreat and day of fun at the beach. We took all of our residential students, along with some of our high schoolers, house parents, and missionaries, to the Assunta House. This house belongs to some of our community friends from another Franciscan missionary order. They were so kind to let us use their compound for our retreat.

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We left early in the morning for the retreat. We we arrived at Assunta House, we joined together for morning prayers. Our theme for the retreat was, “God Speaks in the Silence of the Heart” because sometimes our lives are so noisy that we miss the opportunity to hear from God. We listened to missionaries share on the importance of silence based on their own personal experiences.

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Our main activity for the retreat was forty-five minutes of silence. Everyone found personal space on the property where they prayed and reflected on questions we were each given. When we joined back together, we shared our answers and were overwhelmed by the beauty and positivity in the responses shared. God filled us with peace and joy as we spent time with Him.

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After our closing prayer, we ate delicious plates of jollof rice and fried chicken. Then it was off to the beach! Everybody changed into beach clothes and we gathered on the shore for a walking rosary. When the rosary was finished, everybody enjoyed the beach and ice cream. We played soccer on the sand and swam in the ocean for hours.

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When we were all tired from a wonderful day, we decided to head back to the mission. We thanked the employees who worked extra hours at the Assunta House so we could have an amazing experience. It was such a rejuvenating day full of prayer, good food, and fun.

This Lent, we thank God for His goodness and His voice that speaks to us in the silence of our hearts!

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Moving to Liberia: A Volunteer's Reflection

Claire is a volunteer on Liberia Mission who joined the team last summer. Enjoy this reflection she wrote about her time in Liberia so far:

Claire helping prepare our grounds for our 15th anniversary celebration in November.

Claire helping prepare our grounds for our 15th anniversary celebration in November.

During my sophomore year of high school, the Caudle family who I knew from church, moved to Liberia Mission for 2 years (Greg Caudle was Liberia Mission’s former Director). They packed up their family of 6, left their jobs, and came to Liberia. They were so excited about coming to Liberia Mission, that they made the whole process seem easy.

I think that was the same time that God started working on me. By the time all of my peers were deciding where they were going to attend college, I had decided to take a year off. I graduated in May 2018 and left for Liberia in August. I have been in Liberia for 5 months now, and I’ll be here for one more month. My time here has been so exhilarating that it feels like I’ve only been here a month, and the sadness of my coming departure is slowly growing.

I’m often asked about what I like best about living here, but I never have an answer. There’s simply too much here to love.  If Liberia Mission had a marketing brochure, I’m sure it would provide the details of the residential program for the poorest of the poor, the school for 435 students, and the Catholic values that inform all that we do. But what’s far more difficult to describe is the excitement that fills this place, the community culture that cultivates personal growth, the energy of the students, and the unconditional love we have for one another.

Claire picking fruit on Liberia Mission’s farm.

Claire picking fruit on Liberia Mission’s farm.

My days here on the mission are spent in a wide variety of ways. I don’t have a specific job but I help kids with homework during study hall time, work on short term projects, and assist in the office. I sometimes “help” in the kitchen, where I’ve learned a lot about African cooking.

Then there are all the things that would have worried me if I had known about them before I came. From being awakened by a rooster or a donkey, to the persistent ant bites and the constant heat, I see that it’s these differences that make living here so special. When you add in Saturday water fights, volleyball, working in the community outside our walls, and quiet evening conversations, living here feels like paradise.

There were some routines I was not prepared for, like waking up at 5:00 for Morning Prayer, but the longer I am here, the more I love them. When our voices break the morning silence, God is present. Coming half way around the world has not been easy every step of the way, but it has given me the opportunity to see how people outside of where I have grown up live. I have seen a single motorbike carrying an entire family, gas stands selling fuel from old mayonnaise jars, and people living in houses made from corrugated zinc. I’ve also seen people filled with a joy so uncontrolled that they break into song and dance.

When our voices break the morning silence, God is present.
— Claire
Claire (on right) with Grace, our Financial Manager, celebrating graduation at Booker Washington Institute.

Claire (on right) with Grace, our Financial Manager, celebrating graduation at Booker Washington Institute.

There is so much more I could say about Liberia Mission and my experience here. I’ve learned to love all the pigs, cows, dogs and everything in between. I’ve felt God’s ever-present love through prayer and in worship. So when my day ends with three new ant bites and I’m longing to eat something other than rice, I think about how lucky I am to have had a day full of laughter, smiles, friends and unforgettable memories.

I don’t know of any place else like Liberia Mission; it’s truly special and will forever hold a special place in my heart.