Ashes to Easter supports missionaries all over the world

By Catholic Spirit Staff

This year more than 51,000 little boxes have been distributed to parishes throughout the Austin Diocese so that families can take part in the Ashes to Easter campaign. During Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 13, families are asked to contribute coins to the boxes and to pray for the missionaries for whom the money is collected.

Christina Krueger, the diocesan Missions Coordinator, has taken the reigns of the Ashes to Easter project, which was operated by Father Tom Frank for more than 20 years.

"Father Frank lovingly ran this project for so long because he wanted to encourage and support local missionaries and raise awareness about missionary activities throughout the world," Krueger said.

Missionaries are committed to bringing Christ’s love to those who might not ever be offered the gift of faith, she said.

"Missionaries work for the universal church," Krueger said. "Many of them live and work and bring the faith to remote villages and people that the rest of us have forgotten about. It is in people such as these, that we always encounter the face of Christ."

The money collected through Ashes to Easter supports the efforts of several locally connected missionary efforts:

Friends of Los Niños in El Progreso, Honduras – A ministry dedicated to helping meet the nutritional, medical, spiritual and educational needs of children in a small community in Honduras. For information, visit www.friendsoflosninos.org.

International Foundation for Hope for Arul Ashram in India – Carol Collins, a parishioner of St. Theresa Parish in Austin, works with the Little Brothers of St. John to run an Indian orphanage and school for 40 children living with HIV/AIDS. For information, visit www.ifoundhope.org.

Kids to Kids Outreach Mission Hope in Guatemala – Norm and Maria Kaesberg of Round Rock are missionaries who serve malnourished and homeless children in Guatemala. They teach about the Catholic faith, and they bring in health care workers and medicines to help the sick. For information, visit k2kmissionhope.wordpress.com.

Nuestra Madre Santísima de la Luz in Guadalupe Nuevo Leon, Mexico – Holy Cross priests with Father John Herman as pastor serve the poor in a mission parish struggling with violence, kidnapping and killings perpetuated by Mexican drug cartels. The mission serves 50,000 people and offers food, medical care, school supplies and scholarships for teens. For information, visit www.holycrossusa.org/ministries/parish/mexico/.

New Hope for Cambodian Children in Cambodia – John and Kathy Tucker are originally from the Temple area and currently provide medical care and shelter to Cambodian children who have been abandoned and are living with HIV/AIDS. They are developing more educational programs and vocational trainings for the children. For information, visit www.newhopeforcambodianchildren.com.

Hope for Rio Dulce, Guatemala – Ryan Eckert serves the indigenous Q’eqchi villagers by promoting the Catholic faith and supporting four chapels, education and programs that help villagers develop sustainable incomes. For information, visit www.hopefortheriodulce.com.

Weavers of Hope – This is an Austin-based project that supports Catholics in the Village of Villa Garcia in Zacatecas, Mexico. Villagers make rugs and tapestries that are sold in the U.S. and the proceeds are returned to the villagers. The ministry also provides educational scholarships. For information, visit www.weaversofhope.org.

Wildflower Home in Thailand – Mike and Elizabeth Thaibinh, who have ties to St. Mary Parish in College Station, serve pregnant young mothers in crisis situations in Chiang Mai, Thailand. They provide food, shelter, counseling, health care, educational opportunities and vocational training for young women and their children. For information, visit www.wildflowerhome.net.