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Five Minutes with Mission: Brief Tales to Share

These very brief stories can be used for short amounts of classroom time, such as just before the lunch bell rings. In about five minutes, students can learn of diverse cultures and delightful cultural differences, hear how people relate to each other, explore their own feelings of empathy, learn bits of history and enjoy humor in mission situations.
  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • September 2008
  • Story: Father Doug Venne lived in a tiny hut in a village in Bangladesh. The monsoon rains had come, but he was blessed in that no flood waters had come close to his hut. From his doorway, he could see that the homes of some others had waist-high water in them. Those villagers had to sleep on the nearby higher roadside, along with their sheep, goats and cattle. All day the women worked to make meals by gathering greens,  looking for dry sticks, and laying out damp wood to dry in the sun. The men could not work in their flooded fields, so they played cards. The children leaped, splashed and laughed in the flood waters. These families knew how to survive!

  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • March 2009
  • Story: Fathers Michael Bassano and Michael Synder were visiting patients in a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. They stopped to see a woman named Melina, who was more than 80 years old. Father Mike explained that he was just learning her language of Swahili. Melina smiled as he tried to speak with her in Swahili. Then she asked if they would sit nearby and sing the “Our Father” with them. She grabbed their hands, holding them up as the three sang the prayer. Father Mike realized that it was not a problem that he and Melina did not speak the same language. They shared a language of the heart, which said they were of one family, the family of God.   


  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • March 2009
  • Story: At a village festival in Guatemala, there was music, food and people at many activities, including a man selling ice cream cones. Maryknoller Edward Moore noticed a family, a mother, father and a girl about 8 and a boy about 6 years old. They were quietly enjoying the festivities. He guessed that they lived a distance from the village, and by their clothing, were quite poor. He saw the father go over to the ice cream cone stand, where the cones sold for about 10 cents. The father bought one cone. He went back to his family, and all four of them shared that  cone.

  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • September 2009
  • Story: Lay Missioner Debbie Northern was teaching at a Catholic university in Tanzania. Sometimes students invited her to celebrate a birthday. Usually the cake was small and there were many guests. The birthday person would cut the cake into tiny pieces and go around to all the guests, placing a piece into the mouth of each guest. It reminded her when we share the  Eucharist, and also of the parable of the loaves and fishes.
  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • May/June 2009, p 6
  • Story: One day, at a primary school in South Sudan, Sister Mary Ellen Manz noticed a teacher talking to two first grade boys who had been fighting. Logelio was crying hard, and Marino, who was a bigger child, looked angry. His fists were clenched. The teacher talked about respecting each other and playing well together. Marino took a deep breath. He opened his hands, and extended one towards Logelio. "I'm sorry," he said. Instantly, the littler boy shook Marino's hand and said, "I forgive you." Then they ran off to play together. 

  • Based on "Paths to Prayer series: Namaste in the Hindu Kingdom" 
  • July/August 2009
  • Story: A war of 10 years In Nepal forced many people to leave their homes in the countryside. Now they work in brick factories. It is very hard and dirty work. Father Joseph Thaler who works in Nepal, helped at a one-day eye and dental camp for the workers. All day long, the workers, who are very poor, came to get exams and medical care. For hours they had to stand in the hot sun. Mothers carried babies, young people helped the elderly. After waiting and waiting, some people would notice others who needed even more medical help than they did. They then moved to the back of the long line so the more needy people could get in earlier.
 
  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • May/June 2010
  • Story: Lay Missioner Deborah Northern stopped in at a fast food restaurant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. When she sat down, the cashier asked if she could join Deborah. Thinking the cashier was on a break, Deborah welcomed her. Very soon, however, the cashier excused herself. Within seconds, another person asked to join Deborah. In Tanzanian culture, people do not want to be alone. So those in the restaurant were keeping her company, so she would not get lonely.


  • Based on a side story from "The Mission of Charity": The Miracle Dog"
  • May/June 2010
  • Story: Mei-Hua Charity Yang is the director of a school in Taiwan started by a Maryknoll priest. Many of the students need wheelchairs or braces on their arms or legs. One day, Charity read a newspaper story about a little dog whose back legs were hurt in an accident. He couldn't walk but a veterinarian made a kind of walker with a harness and 2 wheels so the dog could move around. Now all he needed was a home! "That dog should live here, at this school! He would fit right in with his walker!," she thought. And he did! Everyone soon loved Beagle. Beagle quickly learned to be patient and gentlwith children who had trouble controlling their muscles. He seemed to understand they loved him even if they were a little rough when giving him treats. Like the children. Beagle received therapy to make his muscles stronger. Beagle now can walk on all four legs. Each morning he sits in the school yard, waiting for the children to arrive and he greets each one.


  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • May/June 2009
  • In a village in Bolivia, there was no school. A man called Don* Ricardo decided to change that. Father Denis Browne tells that Don Ricardo was able to convince some villagers to help however they were able: some gave materials, others money, time, or muscle power. It took a lot of effort  and cleverness on Don Ricardo's part to create a school for the village children. At the school opening, a visiting official said, "The school is what we need! Now there will no longer be people who can't read and so cannot do anything to help our country!" Don Ricardo listened with dignity. He never said the he was unable to read.
  • *"don" is a term of respect
  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • October 2009
  • A man named Eufrasio, an elder in the community, came to see the Maryknoll priest  at his parish in Peru. "Could we please use a room here for a meeting? And would you come to it?" Eufrasio asked. They worked it out. When it was time for the meeting and people had gathered, it was obvious that something had happened that caused the people to be angry and hurt. Eufrasio stood. He asked one of the men to also stand and tell his side of the conflict. Everyone listened. He sat down and Eufrasio asked another person to stand and tell his side. Again, everyone listened. Then Eufrasio suggested a solution to the problem. All the people agreed. "Now, each of you give everyone a sign of peace," he said. After they had done so, Eufrasio said, "Now we will never speak of this again." Everyone left quietly and peacefully.
  • What is an "elder"?
  • Even though the people in the room were angry, what did they do to help solve the problem?
  • Could we do something like this when there are disagreements?

  • Based on  Missioner Tales
  • December 2010
  • Story: Working in the Philippines, Father Thomas Marti must travel to many  small villages  to say Mass, baptize children, etc. During one visit, he was invited to eat at a family's home, which was made of wood, straw and bamboo. Tired from his travels, and needing to leave soon for another place, he asked if he could take a short nap. Of course, he was told, but could he wait a moment? Knowing that most homes do not have mattresses, he was startled when two of the men left and returned quickly with a mattress, just for him! They placed it on the table! "You can rest now," he was told. Some people were still sitting at the table. Father Thomas was not very comfortable lying down right there, but he knew they had gotten the mattress out of kindness to him. He did lay down, but he didn't sleep very well!   

  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • March 2011
  • Story: For years, many people in China suffered greatly. For some, this was because of their Catholic beliefs. First it was the actions of soldiers from other countries, and later, some leaders in their own country treated the citizens badly. Sometime later, Maryknoll Father Henry Beninati took Communion to the home of Paulo, an elderly Catholic man. Paulo had trouble walking and his hands were misshapen. Some of his problems were from the bad treatment he had endured years before.Father Henry gave Paulo the Eucharist,and though it was difficult for Paulo to kneel, he closed his eyes and remained kneeling to pray. Later, sitting with Paulo’s family, Father Henry encouraged Paulo to talk about the bad years. Listening to these stories of pain, mistreatment and bravery, Father Henry cried. When it was time to leave, Paulo asked if the priest would bless his family. “Yes, but on the condition that you bless me!” Father Henry said. Slowly and with difficulty, Paulo stood. He put his gnarled hands on Father’s head. He too had tears in his eyes. “Please bless Father Henry and all missioners,” he prayed.

                Why do you think Father Henry asked for Paulo’s blessing?

                Why do you think Paulo cried at being asked to do a blessing?


  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • July/August 2011
  • Story: Father MaCahill, who works in Bangladesh, does not have his own cell phone, so he usually goes to a cellphone store to rent one for a short time. One day when he needed to make some calls, the phone store was not yet open, but the ticket office for the bus station was. He asked if  there was a phone he could rent for a few minutes. The clerk just handed Father McCahill his own phone. While the clerk worked nearby, Father McCahill made his calls: he was contacting hospitals and doctors about three children, all who needed medical care. They lived far from the city and their parents had no way of making the calls themselves. When he finished, he offered the clerk rent money, a 10-taka note (about 14 cents). The clerk wouldn't take it. "Count it as my contribution to helping the children," he said.  What good came that day from having to share a phone!

  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • July.August 2011
  • Story: Father Daniel Ohmann works in Tanzania. A second grader named Josephof the Watatulu tribe, is a very  intelligent boy. Father Ohmann helps Joseph go to a boarding school for a better education than he can get near home. Joseph is a child who seems to have a good understanding of his prayers, and Father Ohmann wonders if someday, Joseph might consider becoming a priest. One evening, when Joseph was home from school, Father Ohmann was helping him and other children with their studies. It was dark, so they were using the light from a car to be able to read. Father Ohmann keep feeling a  bug pestering him and he kept swapping at it to make it go away. Then some of the children began to snicker. When it tickled him again, Father Ohamnn acted as if he were going to swat at the bug again, but instead caught the arm of Joseph! In his hand was a feather--there had not been a pestering bug after all! All children roared with laughter. Joseph sat there with a sly grin on his face. 
  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • July/August 2011
  • Story: In El Salvador, a group of adults were in a meeting. Deborah Northern was helping out by entertaining the 20 children who had come with the adults. One of the activities she planned was a movie. While they were watching it, three of the older boys left the room, but Deborah didn't notice. Suddenly, there came crashing sound came from the bathroom. Deborah raced into that room to find that the boys had caused the sink to come off the wall. Water was gushing out of the pipe and one of the boys was pressing his hands over it, trying to stop the geyser of water. Should she yell or laugh? Deborah said, "It just shows that no matter where they are, kids will be kids."


  • Based on The Magician Priest
  • July/August 2011
  • Story: Father Denis Browne is in his nineties and he lived for 60 years in Bolivia, working with people who had very, very little. Yet, he says he never knew anyone who was poor. The richest of them all was Don Crecencio. Father Browne shows visitors a pair of pants. They are ragged and mended. There are patches upon patches. There was probably nothing left of the front of the original pants--it was now made up of just patches. These pants once belonged to Don Crecencio. When Father Browne brought him a gift of a new pair of pants, Don Crecenio gave him the patched pants in exchange. Why does Father Brown think of Don Crecenio as rich when these patches were probably his only pair of pants? Because Don Crecenio had great faith in God's love.
  • Based on Missioner Tales 
  • November 2008
  • Story: When Dr. Margrethe Juncker worked in Cambodia, her patients were very poor people who were also very sick. However, she saw that they could always find at least one thing to be happy for. If these patients found something hopeful, so could she and her family. They began what they called "the flower of the day." After saying night prayers, each child and parent shared one thing that made him or her especially happy that day--fun with a friend, a smile from a stranger, and good soccer match. What is your "flower" for today?
  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • July/August 2009
  • Lay Missioner Laura Brown and her family lived in Chile. Her youngest child, Ella was just 2, and neighbor girls enjoyed coming over to "mother" her. One day, one of these neighbor children saw Ella pick up a coin that had dropped to the floor. Quickly she took the coin into her own hand and called to Laura. Laura thanked the girl for little Ella could easily have put the coin into her mouth and choked. However, what the neighbor girl said was, "I knew you wouldn't want to lose track of this money!" The money was only worth 1/5 of one cent. Laura realized she would never have worried about loosing it. She said she was "deeply humbled" by this. What do you think she meant?
  • Based on Missioner Tales
  • April 2010
  • Many years ago, Father Donald Doherty worked in Tanzania. He met a young man named Andrew who could not afford to go to school. Father Doherty knew people he could ask to donate money and so Andrew went to school. He became a teacher and a headmaster of a school. He also married and had a son, Brian. Brian was able to go to college in the United States. What if all these people met? There would be Father Donald, Andrew, Brian, and the people who donated money. There would also be the teachers Andrew had and then all the students Andrew has affected in his work. And what about the people Brian's work will touch? Most of these people will never meet, but they will all have made the world a better place!