Church of St. Maurice
Helping the Hungry of the World
The family of St. Maurice Parish was born in a stable. This family, inspired by the words of Mother Teresa, "God gave us the poor for our benefit," is dedicated to helping the hungry of the world.
In 1970, Smith's Stables was renamed St. Maurice Catholic Church by the Archdiocese of Miami, Florida. After much hard labor, the first parishioners assembled and the initial bonding of the family of St. Maurice began. The parish believes in reaching out in love to your neighbors near and far through the many service projects they support. They have a simple philosophy of caring for others, regardless of circumstance, heritage or religion, especially the poor and hungry.
About 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. Three-fourths of the deaths are children under the age of five. It is estimated that some 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
Such realities brought Father Sean Mulcahy and a group of St. Maurice parishioners together in the fall of 1976 to discuss this human tragedy. As a result of those discussions, the St. Maurice Hunger Program was launched to help in the eradication of world hunger, a program generously supporting the Presentation Bolivian mission since 1999.
When Father Sean left in 1998, the Hunger Program had grown, providing missions across the world with funds to help feed the hungry. In order to ensure the continuity of the program, Father established a Hunger Board made up of parishioners who are responsible for the administration of the monies generated. The present pastor of St. Maurice, Father Roger Holoubek, is deeply committed to justice and continues to support the Hunger Program's 32 initiatives around the world.
"The Hunger Program is one of the pillars of our parish and, with the grace of God, we will fulfill our gospel commitment to feed the hungry across the world," says Ramona Rung, St. Maurice parishioner and cousin to Presentation Sister Therese Marie Hawes, who missioned in Bolivia for 32 years. "Several years ago, I became part of the 'finding committee' and was delighted for the opportunity to research the Presentation Bolivian mission and propose it to our board as one of the projects we should fund," adds Ramona, currently the project director for the Bolivian mission who acts as liaison between the project and St. Maurice.
In Bolivia, many Guaraní children live in the mountains, more than ten miles from a school. Often these children will move to town so they can attend school and live with another poor family, usually in a dirt floor home. St. Maurice Hunger Program sends money to help feed both the "foster" children and the family who cares for them during the school year. Without this aid, the family could not afford to feed another child.
"My cousin, Sister Therese, went to Bolivia to be a missionary in 1974. How fascinated I was hearing how she took a crash course in Spanish and how difficult it would be for her to arrive at her destination, the last miles being by mule. When the opportunity came for me to use frequent flyer miles, I was elated to travel to Bolivia to visit the people my church had been helping for many years. My life will never be the same," remarks Ramona. "What a real blessing it is to truly touch base firsthand with God's poor; to learn their stories and feel a tiny bit of what they feel on a daily basis."
St. Maurice parishioners are very generous with donated items whenever a parishioner visits a Hunger Program mission. When Ramona visited the poor of Bolivia, she took many items to disperse. The Guaraní blessed her in every sense of the word. Often they did not understand her language, but never did she feel more welcomed than by people in Bolivia and the Presentation Sisters.
"My visit to Entre Ríos, Bolivia, will always be very memorable for me," Ramona continues. "I have been so blessed to help empower the Guaraní. Hopefully, they will be sustaining themselves by 2009. What an accomplishment for the Presentations and for the indigenous peoples themselves."
What an accomplishment for the family of St. Maurice Parish. The families in Bolivia have had their lives and homes touched by St. Maurice's willingness to live the gospel call to provide for the need of others.