Twenty-three of the thirty Vincentian Lay Missionaries from the United States met in Chicago on “All Saints / All Souls Weekend” (October 31-November 2, 2008) to deepen their bonds of community and mission as they participated in their annual retreat together. The accompanying video features a look at all thirty missionaries. The retreat was led by VLM Lay Coordinator Christy Leming with Vincentian advisers Sr. Mary Beth Kubera, D.C and Fr. Aidan R. Rooney, C.M. Members of the VLM-USA began in 2006 with three missionaries in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, and now work in two missions in Ethiopia (Bahir Dar and Jimma) and in Thigio, Kenya.
Begun after consulting with the Irish Vincentian Lay Missionaries, and invited to staff their original foundation in Bahir Dar, VLM-USA caught fire after its first year. The missionaries give a summer of mission work and pledge to carry on a life-long commitment to their fellow VLMs and to the communities in which they have served. That commitment has resulted in both practical assistance and consciousness-raising activities back in the USA. Over three years, VLMs have raised enough money and resources to join in outfitting a Daughter of Charity school library in Bahir Dar; to build two new classrooms in the Daughter of Charity school in the village of Ginjo in Jimma, where the Daughters serve a community of people afflicted by leprosy; to build a science classroom for the local Catholic school in Jimma, led by the Vincentian Community; to start a small business in Jimma; to provide scholarships for more than 100 children; to assist a school faculty member in publishing highly-acclaimed original Amharic (Ethiopian) poetry; to build a small sports and recreation program in Kenya; and sell locally produced crafts in the USA. Additionally, computers, books, and new clothing regular travel with the VLMs to their sites.
While there, the Missionaries teach English (in Ethiopia) and provide care and recreational activities for children (Kenya). You can find out much more and contact them at at http://www.vlmusa.org.