The war-ravaged Kinshasa (Congo) may be very distant from Australia, but a number of Sydney Catholics are supporting the education of its clergy. They have awarded the chaplain of the Kinshasa Legion of Mary a $15,000 scholarship to study in Rome.
Father Philemon Muaba Diop will be studying Marian theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, sent by Cardinal Frederic Etsou, of Kinshasa. Knowing the poverty of the Catholic Church in the Congo, the Sydney-based Pontifical University of the Holy Cross Foundation is helping to support him.
Father Philemon comes from a family of nine and has been a priest for 15 years. His youngest brother was ordained three years ago.
Father Philemon teaches at the Kinshasa seminary, but the focus of his work is the Legion. "It is thanks to the Legion of Mary that Catholics captured by sects return to the Catholic Church," he told the secretary of the foundation, Mr Frank Casadesus, of Roseville, Sydney. "It is also thanks to the Legion of Mary that many families approach the sacraments and receive the sacrament of Christian initiation for their children."
The Legion, says Father Philemon, does a "titanic work" in drawing people to the Catholic Church.
Mr Casadesus says that the foundation hopes to sponsor more clergy from Third World countries to study in Rome. Anyone interested in learning more about the work of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross Foundation can ring him on +61 (02) 9746-6360.