Bishop W. Shawn McKnight and his delegation processed down the lane connecting the main road and the sprawling plaza outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Kunkuri, India.
They walked past schools, convents, novitiates, a hospital, an orphanage and other unmistakable manifestations of God’s unfailing love for His people.
They could see and feel the Church being built-up all around them.
“And when we got back home a few weeks later, sure enough, the Church was being built-up all around us here, too,” stated Jake Seifert, director of development and missions for the Jefferson City diocese.
Such is the mutuality of mission.
Priests from faraway places that in previous generations were considered mission countries are now administering the sacraments and helping build-up the Church in dioceses all over Europe and the United States.
This includes the Jefferson City diocese, where 15 priests on mission from dioceses in Ghana, India, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda are helping care for the spiritual needs of the faithful.
They inject new kinds of energy and insight into their preaching and interaction with parishioners, fellow priests, and the public.
All the while, the diocesan Mission Office, with nearly 60 years of promoting and supporting overseas Catholic mission work, is helping to build churches, schools, roads, clean-water wells and other essentials in these priests’ home dioceses.
Mr. Seifert emphasized the importance for Catholic Christians not only to help people at home “but also the people of our sister dioceses in other nations.”
“We create partnerships rooted in gratitude and the things that unite us,” he said. “For instance, we are comparably rich in terms of our earthly resources, which we are willing to share and invest in growing churches beyond our national borders.”
They are comparably rich in priestly resources that they are willing to share in order to help spiritually sustain the people here.
“We give to each other,” said Mr. Seifert, “which is what makes us mission partners!”
As mission director, Mr. Seifert sees his role as helping others recognize Christ at work with them and in them whenever they help people in need — at home and around the world.
“Whenever we help the missions, we are helping the Church grow as a whole,” he said.
It’s essentially about building relationships and strengthening unity throughout the Church — “one Body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one God Who is Father of us all,” he said, paraphrasing Ephesians 5.
“Sharing our faith”
Mr. Seifert holds a degree in marketing from Lincoln University in Jefferson City and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from William Woods College in Fulton.
He worked in the diocesan Stewardship Office from August 2008 to June 2012, then provided administrative and development support for Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri before becoming development director there.
Mr. Seifert has been serving as diocesan development director since July 2018. He accepted additional responsibilities of promoting the missions upon the retirement of longtime mission director Mark Saucier this February.
“When we help people beyond our own backyards, we are helping fulfill Jesus’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations,” said Mr. Seifert.
“We are sharing our faith when we give in faith,” he added. “It is evangelization. We are spreading the Word of God and making Christ’s presence known among the poorest of the poor.”
Mr. Seifert is grateful for Mr. Saucier’s years of service and dedication in making the Mission Office what it is today.
“Mark had a great passion for working with our mission partners to help empower those living in poverty around the globe,” said Mr. Seifert.
Mr. Seifert will always remember the time he spent in India, seeing firsthand the stratospheric growth the Church has experienced in the area in and around Jashpur since Catholic missionaries first visited there just over a century ago.
He’ll also never forget seeing firsthand the tremendous needs that still exist there.
“One thing that will always remain in my mind is how grateful and happy the local people were, even though they had very little,” he stated.
Similar stories permeate all of the places touched by the diocesan missions — from Father Dandi Bermejo’s mission to the sugar plantation workers in Negros Occidental in the Philippines to Father César Anicama’s ministry in poor neighborhoods in Lima, Peru.
Mr. Seifert asked for continued prayerful and material support for the missions.
“Without prayer and without money, our ability to help is very limited,” he said. “Only with a combination of prayers and donations will we be able to keep growing our mission partnerships and help spread the Good News to the ends of the earth.”