We are happy to share the news that Fr. Gregory Semeniuk, C.M. has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the VSO.
Fr. Gregory is from the Eastern USA Province. Before coming to the VSO, he was serving as Vicar for Multicultural Ministries at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. (Fr. Gregory speaks four languages.) Earlier in his priesthood and for ten years, he served in Hispanic Ministry in New York. Fr. Semeniuk also previously taught theology in the major seminary of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Fr. Gregory resides at the Theologate house of the Eastern Province, where he also serves as a part-time formator.
Growing the Mission in Lombe, Angola
Five years ago this month, our Congregation started a mission in Angola. Getting the mission established has been a challenge. Angola is a troubled place. It only recently gained its independence in 1975. A 25-year civil war quickly followed, killing up to 1.5 million residents anddisplacing 4 million others. Like other African nations, Angola has lots of oil—a resource that promised socioeconomic development, but instead has led to great economic inequality, corruption, and lost opportunity for human progress.
Our mission in Angola is located in the town of Lombe, outside the city of Malange. The mission serves 40 communities, some as far as 40 kilometers away from the mission center. The VSO first assisted the mission by sending monies for our confreres there to purchase a vehicle to traverse the challenging roads. Recently, the VSO provided funding to help our confreres in Angola start a large vegetable garden and orchard, and build a wall to protect them from animals.
A Hostel in Oraifite, Nigeria
For some years, our confreres in Nigeria have operated St. Joseph’s Primary School and De Paul Secondary School in Oraifite, Nigeria.
These are special schools because they serve children who are deaf or have severe hearing impairments. Such children lack adequate access to schooling in Nigeria. But these two schools are also special in another way; they teach students with full hearing in classrooms alongside children who cannot hear. Such “inclusive” education is also uncommon in Nigeria.
The VSO assisted our Province of Nigeria in obtaining grant monies from Kindermissionswerk and the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, which it matched with monies from the Vincentian Solidarity Fund, to pay for the construction of the ground floor of the new hostel. At this time 99 students, including those with and without hearing, live together in the hostel. The VSO is now working to finance the construction a second floor to house more of the students.
What is the Vincentian Solidarity Office?
The Vincentian Solidarity Office (VSO) is a program of service of the General Curia of the Congregation of the Mission in Rome, Italy. The VSO was established by the Superior General and the General Council of the Congregation of the Mission on June 15, 2002, and opened for service on January 1, 2003. The goal of the VSO is:
To assist the Congregation of the Mission with obtaining funds for its evangelization and service of the poor.