Lenten Project 2010:
Ascension to Nigeria: Measure the Distance in Love
Ten years ago, just after the start of the new Millennium, Ascension embarked on a project that would change the hearts and minds of its people. We call it our Lenten Project, and it has taken us around the globe to India, El Salvador, Haiti, Tanzania, the Philippines, Kenya, Bolivia, and Angola. The children of Ascension who built the well in India in 2000 are now in high school, college and beyond, yet the project continues. This year the invitation is ours (yours?). The country is Nigeria. The call is the same—to give alms out of gratitude, to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need and in the process to change our hearts.
In September 2006 the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus started a school, a Model College (equivalent to our high school) located at Ibonwon, an interior village in Lagos State of Nigeria. The inhabitants are mostly peasant farmers, youths, children, the aged and traders of small goods. In this country of 130 million people the sisters set for themselves a goal of providing quality education to the students and giving scholarships to the poorest among them. These good sisters see the potential of the children they serve. They want to provide the best education available, beyond just the basics. Their greatest hope is to be able to provide the children with science labs. With these they can open a whole new world of possibility.
And so they look to us. Deacon Roger Vandervest put us in touch with Sr. Theresa Ocloo, the Director of Economic and Development Office for the sisters. After consultation with the sisters at the school in Nigeria she presented us with a proposal. They are asking us to provide materials for a physics lab in the high school. They wrote “Since the wealth of the nations is not properly harnessed for the good of all, and the poor economic situation of the country makes it difficult for us to raise enough funds needed for this project, we depend mostly on the generosity of good people like you.”
The language of physics is foreign to me. I don’t know a galvanometer from a potentiometer. Physics formulas confuse me and the laws of physics befuddle me. However, I do find Newton’s laws of motion right in line with the goals of our project. I will present them as I understand them. “In the absence of a net force, a body either is at rest or moves in a straight line with constant speed.” We may be at rest now, but a force is building, fueled by our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. “A body experiencing a force experiences an acceleration.” Once we get moving, we have to keep moving and moving faster all the time. “Whenever a body exerts a force on a second body, the second body exerts a force on the first body and the force is equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.” Once the children of Nigeria ask us for help we must respond with assistance equal to their need, flowing from us back to them.”
Our goal for this campaign is $12,000. In difficult economic times this is asking a lot. But the laws of physics are not the only ones that guide our project this year. We also respond to the law of Love. “Love one another as I have loved you.” If I were to interpret this law it might say something like, “I have given you everything, now give generously, out of gratitude, to the ones you should love.”
Watch this page for updates on the project. And click Support Ascension Parish, just to the left of this story, to contribute!