Mission teams commissioned for summer service in Peru

Monday, June 18, 2018 - Updated: 9:05 am

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

If we are to be serious about Jesus, said Bishop David Zubik, it is clear that we have to be more like Him. And that is just what those who serve on Chimbote Mission Teams strive to do.

“It’s about being the face, the hands, the heart of Jesus today,” he said.

The bishop spoke during a Mass and Commissioning for the 2018 Mission Teams June 4 at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton. Mission Team 5A was set to depart June 15 and return June 25, while Team 5B will depart June 29 and return July 9.

Team 5A will consist of Deacon Frank Szemanski, spiritual director; Dr. Mara Aloi, team leader; and Luke Aloi, John Beres, Eric Draper, Rachel McDowell, Linda Piso, Sharon Sparacino, Andy Thompson and Kimberly Thompson.

Members of Team 5B are Deacon Tim Noca, spiritual director; Linda Piso, team leader; and Joseph Auth, Mike Fitzgerald, Mary Morgan, Palma Reardon and Marina Topa.

As part of the commissioning, Bishop Zubik presented the team members with World Mission Rosaries. Each decade is a different color and calls to mind a particular area of service throughout the world. The “bridge of love and hope” to Chimbote is recognized with a red decade that celebrates missionaries in the Americas.

Deacon Noca spoke of how the trips are “life-changing.” He noted the importance of having young adults as part of the teams. It will allow them, he said, to take their message back to their peers.

Joseph Auth, a student at Robert Morris University, will make his second trip. He spoke of how his trip last year impacted him, adding, “It really transformed me.” It was an experience, he added, that has given him a new perspective of what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

Fellow student Marina Topa spoke of the stories she has heard from previous team members, adding, “I can’t wait to come home and share stories with all of you.”

A spaghetti dinner and program followed in the Cardinals’ Great Hall. The team members pay for the trip out of their own pockets (approx. $1,600), but professional translators are needed for the trip. Proceeds from the dinner help offset the cost.

Bishop Zubik told the gathering that the team members are powerful witnesses and will follow St. Teresa of Kolkata’s mission of meeting people “one person at a time.”

Dr. Patrick Joyce, diocesan director of the Office for Stewardship and a veteran of two teams, also serves as assistant executive director of the Chimbote Foundation. He explained how the teams are charged by Bishop Zubik to go to Chimbote, be witnesses and come back to tell the story.

Dr. Dennis Woytek, professor emeritus at Duquesne University, will make his third visit to Chimbote. He has documented the trips through his award-winning videography. He described his experience of holding a baby at the center’s orphanage, and how the trips put aside the experience of the outside world.

“You’re just concerned with people in Chimbote,” he said. “These people who have those constant smiles.”

Among the other experiences related at the program was the image of the late Msgr. Jules Roos, co-founder of the mission, holding a baby girl, whose twin had died. The girl grew up to be a dentist so that she could serve others. “That’s what your gifts help make possible,” Joyce said.

Suzan O’Keefe, of the Mission Office and a veteran of two teams, briefed the gathering on the Feb. 21-27, 2019 pilgrimage to Peru that will be led by Bishop Zubik. It will take participants from Lima to Chimbote, where they will greet the staff of the center and visit the grave of Msgr. Roos.

Space will be limited to 45 persons. More information is available by calling O’Keefe at 412-456-3065, or by e-mail at sokeefe@diopitt.org. It can also be found by calling 724-679-7450, or e-mail at: belinda@apilgrimsjourney.com.

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