Singles, couples and families are part of a growing lay missionary community around the world. Next Monday, the Maryknoll Mission Association of the Faithful, known as Maryknoll Lay Missioners, celebrate their tenth anniversary with a liturgy and special meal at their headquarters at Bethany House, in Ossining, NY. Lay people have been working with Maryknoll on an individual basis since the 1930's, but it wasn't until 1974 that the Maryknoll Lay Missioner program was formalized. In 1994 the Lay Missioners became an independent entity and now the largest, fastest-growing lay mission-sending organization in the Church. Maryknoll Lay Missioners co-director Gerry Lee, said: "The joy of being Maryknoll missioners is to have the privilege, each day, to come face-to-face with Christ in the poor with whom we live and work." "In these ten years we have been able to open new mission sites in East Timor, Nepal, Panama, Zimbabwe and Vietnam. We have grown to 133 missioners in 17 countries, including 30 families with 68 children. And over a third of us have served in mission for more than 10 years." Lee, who was a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Venezuela from 1985-1994 explains Lay Missioners go overseas with "our enthusiasm, our conviction to serve the Church we love, and our faith in the Risen Lord. We find, in turn, that we are as transformed in our own faith, as are the poor and the marginalized communities whom we serve in Asia, Latin America and Africa." The Lay Missioners are the third branch of the Maryknoll family that includes The Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America (Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers) and the Maryknoll Congregation (Sisters of St Dominic). Maryknoll Lay Missioner Dee Barlow, said: "No words can express my deep gratitude. Here in Thailand, a half world away, I can still feel that support. That too is Eucharist. That is thanksgiving. That is mission. "Mission is about touching one another's lives, accompanying one another on the journey. It is about our being present for one another, and having Christ present in our midst." For more information visit: www.maryknoll.org.
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