Holy Cross Mission Center supports global outreach
Cate Von Dohlen | Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Housed in a small office on the edge of St. Joseph’s lake, the Holy Cross Mission Center’s web stretches across the globe.
Recently, center director Fr. Mike DeLaney attended World Youth Day in Panama where he and Holy Cross representatives from eight different countries held a vocations fair from Jan. 22 to 26. According to a release from the Congregation of Holy Cross, the fair, which centered on the theme “I am the Servant of the Lord,” was created to engage young people spiritually and help guide them in vocational discernment.
“It gave me the opportunity all day every day to meet with young people,” DeLaney said. “I personally talked with people from over 65 countries.”
The center is sponsored by the United States Province of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. According to its website, four main institutions of higher learning are affiliated with the religious order in the United States: Notre Dame, University of Portland, King’s College and Stonehill College. At each of its locations around the country and world, Holy Cross supports education, vocational discernment and community service. Holy Cross parishes, schools, social ministries — which include anything from youth programs to medical clinics — and other forms of outreach have been established in countries around the world, DeLaney said.
“We have many roles. One is to help support what was traditionally called missionary activity of the Church — over time the words have changed a bit — but what that does is it takes us to the places internationally where we serve: in Asia, primarily in Bangladesh; in Africa — Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana; and in Latin America, especially Chile and Peru. But we also do work with other countries such as Haiti, India, Brazil and Mexico,” DeLaney said.
Along with its missionary work, the Congregation of the Holy Cross has also established schools in the countries it serves.
“We have our donors and our benefactors — always a big part of it — but what we try to do here at the Mission Center is to raise the level of internationality across our province and at our ministries,” he said. “What we’ve striven to do at the [Holy Cross] universities [is] help them understand this connection that you’re at a Holy Cross school and [these missions are] also part of Holy Cross and there’s a way to link this.”
DeLaney, who has visited each country where Holy Cross missionaries serve, identified four main areas of focus for the mission center: advocacy for programs that benefit and support women and children, environmental efforts, work with immigrants, refugees and indigenous people and peace initiatives.
“Our common theme is seeking peace where we can and helping people to live that way,” he said.
Several Notre Dame organizations and residence halls have partnered with the center to support the Holy Cross’ global outreach. Among the many include Bengal Bouts and Baraka Bouts, which raise money for Holy Cross schools in Bangladesh and East Africa, respectively, and Howard Hall’s Totter for Water, which last fall helped fund new bathrooms for a school in Plaisance, Haiti.
The University of Portland in particular raises money for many of the Holy Cross missions, DeLaney said.
“Every single dorm at the University of Portland is doing at least one mission project,” he said. “At Notre Dame we’re not there yet, but the ones that are doing it are doing a great job.”
DeLaney said he hopes Notre Dame’s relationship with the Holy Cross will continue to grow in the future. He said he encourages students to attend events that fund Holy Cross initiatives.
He said events like Cavanaugh Hall’s annual “Cav Cornhole” and a 2K run-walk that supports a prenatal and neonatal center in Nairobi are other examples of on-campus Holy Cross fundraisers.
“They raise a lot of money, but most importantly, they raise awareness,” DeLaney said.
He encourages each residence hall to host a Holy Cross Mission Center project and for students to remember the important work the Holy Cross does.
“I don’t consider what we do charity work,” he said. “What we are doing is assisting our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.”
Aside from organizing events for residence halls and clubs, DeLaney said, a handful of Notre Dame students have done research on Holy Cross missions. Students interested in conducting research for Holy Cross may consult the center for resources or even travel to Holy Cross satellites to do research in other countries. He said one student is currently doing a project on environmental issues in Latin America and their effects on indigenous people.
“One of the things we really strive to do with our colleges, for example, is to look to support these projects so our students can do good work,” he said. “Maybe it pertains to their major but they also see that they are connected to something bigger by being a student at Notre Dame, or Holy Cross College or Saint Mary’s, or wherever they are that they are part of something bigger and that’s called Holy Cross and where we serve in the world.”