U.S.A - Monroe, NC

History of the mission                                    

Through the invitation of His Excellency, Most Rev. Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte, MOP MONROE became the first international mission established by the Missionaries of the Poor in the United States of America. Together with fourBrothers assigned to set up the mission (Br.  William Samad, Br. Nowel Rebamonte, Br. Paulo Gudoy, and Br. Rodel D. Tabanao), the Very Rev. Fr. Richard Ho Lung, M.O.P., Founder and Superior General of the Institute traveled to the United States of America on the Feast of the Guardian Angels, October 2, 2008 to officially establish the Institute’s footing in MonroeNC.

Rev. Fr. James Cassidy, O.S.A., the then Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Monroe provided the rectory for the first two weeks of our infancy narrative. During this period we launched our new apostolic endeavor in cleaning and repairing an old house within the Church property, which was abandoned for nearly two years. This became our make shift “manger” while we continue searching our “Bethlehem” appropriate to the nature of our Institute in being contemplatives in action.

On the 1st of May 2009, the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker, the good Lord has blessed us with a beautiful piece of land acquired through the help of generous friends and benefactors under the leadership of Peter and Lucie Tonon.

Located in a densely populated Spanish speaking community we now live on a 2.5 acre property dedicated to the Guardian Angels at 1403 Griffith RoadMonroe,  North Carolina28112.

On the Feast of St. John Marie Vianney, August 4, 2009, Most Rev. Peter J. Jugis, Bishop of Charlotte, offered the Mass of Thanksgiving and formally blessed our Guardian Angels Monastery, with our Father Founder concelebrating.

 

Apostolate/Ministry

To date, God has blessed us with the glimpses of the future of our mission. While it is true that we do not have centers for the poor as yet, we do have a Monastery where they can come and feel at home. Here, the families we serve no longer feel “strangers and aliens, but are fellow citizens and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Week after week, friends, volunteers, and associates give us their time, treasure, and talents in helping us reach out to the least of our brothers and sisters through worship, prayers, seminars, catechesis, community activities, meals and food packages on regular basis that stimulate in them greater sense of faith and appreciation of God’s love and care.

Likewise, the elderly, the aged, and the sick residing at various hospices, nursing homes and in their own homes are being acquainted to us by our simple gesture of care. On Wednesdays and Sundays we visit these brothers and sisters of ours and bring to them the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. But our witness goes beyond this. The nurses, personnel’s and families have wondered of our presence and are now more receptive and respectful of our faith in Jesus Christ.

We also conduct house visitation on weekly basis. This is another eye opening for us to pray and discern how we can best serve the least of our brothers and sisters without putting into jeopardy the mission and the vision of our Institute. We also provide meals at Union County community shelter in Monroe every 4th Sunday of the month.

 

Ministry:

1. We are making home visitations and deliveries of food and necessities for poor families every Tuesday and Thursday.
2. Every Saturday these families come to our Monastery to pray with us and are given instruction in the Catechism, Bible studies and song. The Brothers serve them a meal, and each family is given a food package to take home.
3. We are also visiting 3 nursing homes.  We pray with and give Holy Communion to the Catholic residents every Wednesday and Sunday.
4. Every 4th Sunday of the month, Brothers and some volunteer friends sponsor and serve a meal at a homeless shelter.
5. Every Monday and Friday the Brothers and volunteers are working together in planting vegetables to be given to the poor families this spring and summer.

 

Laity Participation

At the appointed times, our monastic nature encourages that friends, volunteers, and associates together with the families we serve, may join in with our spiritual  exercises to promote holiness and build up greater sense of being one with God in fraternal spirit. 

In recent times, the mission has been able to organize prayer gatherings and fellowship among our poor, friends, and volunteers on regular basis. This way of evangelization and touching base with everyone who generously support our ministry through spiritual exercises and fellowship is a powerful witness in building up community spirit. 


The Monastery is also open to receiving friends who wishes to participate in our day to day spiritual exercises. Please contact us for more details. 

There also have been a number of individuals, youth groups and other related Church organizations who have come and offer their time and services in supported our developing mission through prayers and volunteer works.

 

Future plans

Since our arrival in 2008, the mission has also seen growth in volunteers wanting to pray and work alongside with the Brothers. Since the Monastery is primarily for the use of the Brothers in order to attend to their spiritual and formation exercises, the need for a center to sustain the ministry without disrupting the Monastery’s Order of the Day, is a must.

In this center, it is our aim to minister specifically to the least of our brothers and sisters. It is our desire to open and operate a night shelter where the homeless can come and feel at home when evening draws near. A common refectory will also be provided for soup kitchen. We also plan to have new and gently used clothes distribution center, food line, and medical missions. In addition, we desire  to provide a study area for the children attending school to do their homework, and English classes for Hispanic community through the assistance of friends and associates.

A section of this center will also be used as a general warehouse to gather food and necessary items needed in our mission overseas. We will do this by encouraging various individuals, groups, Churches, and communities to give and share their food, resources, and time in helping us reach out to the least of our brothers and sisters in all of our missions.

In a nutshell, it is our hope to make our center radiate both the active and the contemplative aspect of our lives. In other words, it is our aim to maintain and provide “Mary’s section” to attend to the spiritual needs of God’s people ----- the poor and the suffering, and “Martha’s section” in order to address the struggle of day to day living.

 

Projects:

1. WAREHOUSE:  Last May 1, we opened our new MOP warehouse for food storage and collection of various other supplies needed both in Monroe and by our other missions overseas.  As part of our work here in Monroe, we will be visiting a number of parishes in the Diocese and have food drives to collect supplies needed for all of our missions throughout the world.  We understand that many of the parishes here do not have the capacity to store large quantities of food. We hope that our assistance with promotion, collection and storage may relieve the parishes of this burden. We also plan to operate some of our ministry functions from this property.  This may include meals for some of the poor families but in the beginning we hope this property helps us expand our ministry and include more opportunities where many of our friends and associates can participate more directly in our ministry to the poor.  Ideally this will be like a drop- in center where many friends will be able to volunteer in packaging food, helping to prepare the shipping containers and food distribution to both our MOP missions and the poor in our immediate neighborhood. We began minor work to the property, including cleaning, painting and minor improvements after we had signed the lease contract. The address of this warehouse is at 203 - B Lee St. Monroe N.C. 28112. In this warehouse we receive bulk food items like canned goods, rice, cereals and other necessities like toothpaste, soup, shampoo, diapers etc...

We are in need of one or more people who could help sponsor the $900 monthly rental of the warehouse.

Our food pantry, for the local people, remains located at the monastery address at 1403 Griffith Road, Monroe.

2. ST. JOSEPH GARDEN PAVILLION:  We received the City’s approval for building a multi-purpose hall called “St. Joseph Pavilion Garden” in the area that is currently on the side of our monastery. This is going to be a very simple hall to accommodate larger groups for spiritual exercises, retreats, days of recollection, and Catechism classes for the children, youth, and their parents. We will also have songs practice and other functions for the poor and the laity.  If you know anyone who would like to donate their time, resources, building expertise or monetary donation (the cost of the hall will be $69,000.00 US dollars) to help in completing this project, please visit us or give us a call.

 

Challenges

Since the foundation of our mission, we have seen that the establishment of our typical apostolate, i.e. to conduct centers for the homeless, the abandoned and the poor, has met with difficulty. While we do not foreclose hope of eventually establishing similar works in the future, we now know that the United States, as a first world country, offers challenges that are completely diverse from our “typical backyard” – the third world. Some of these challenges are regulatory where governmental regulations has imposed much tougher standards and requirements that limits our ability to open a house for the poor where the least of our brothers and sisters can come for a warm home, a caring and loving atmosphere, fraternal fellowship and needless to say, moral and spiritual guidance. In addition, the nature of poverty we found here in the US differs from the nature of poverty in the third world. These and other considerations cause us to go to prayer for direction and to discern God’s will for our mission.

 

Your Help: Collection of Food

While being still in the midst of economic crisis, the Lord has not stopped asking us to give the poor something to eat lest they faint on the way (cf. Mt. 15:32-38).

An increasing number of families are seeking our assistance for food on regular basis. With our pantry shelves poorly stocked, our need for food in reaching out to the least of our brothers and sisters in the neighborhood is greatly needed.

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