Parishes join forces to provide Sudan with clean water - Catholic Courier

Parishes join forces to provide Sudan with clean water

ROCHESTER — A collaboration between the sister parishes of Our Lady of the Americas in the city and St. Joseph in Penfield raised more than enough money to build two wells and provide clean water for people in the war-torn African country of Sudan.

"It’s so amazing," said Salva Dut, one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan who now lives in Rochester and founded the international Water for Sudan project. "The way they worked together is what we need. … We are all people of God together."

Dut attended Mass at both parishes Sept. 7 and was presented with a check for more than $18,000. He said he will travel back to southern Sudan in December and will stay for six months to oversee construction of the new wells.

Water for Sudan is an interfaith project — which has included participation of churches from California to New Jersey and many in the Rochester area — and it has raised enough funds to build 29 wells since 2004, Dut said. The cost to build and maintain one well is $8,500, according to information from the parishes.

"You really care for people around the world," Dut said during the Sept. 7 Mass at Our Lady of the Americas, which comprises the former Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier and Corpus Christi churches. The parish is located at 864 E. Main St.

A newly formed group from the two parishes — called Sharing Hearts — took on the Water for Sudan project in the spring, said Lori Mahar, a parishioner from St. Joseph. The money raised included $300 from the students at St. Joseph School who held bake sales and placed a water-cooler jug for donations in front of the principal’s office, Mahar added. Other donations came from special collections during Masses and water jugs placed at church, she noted.

"People’s hearts were just so generous," Mahar remarked. "People thought this was such a wonderful cause."

Joanne Corcimiglia, chairperson of Our Lady of the America’s social-justice ministry, said working with the parishioners from St. Joseph also has been wonderful. She and Mahar said that the two groups will soon meet to discuss what their next joint project will be.

"We’re thrilled," Corcimiglia said of what the parishioners were able to do for Water for Sudan. "To help with water and help the Sudanese … has really been a blessing."

Father Vincent Panepinto, pastor of Our Lady of the Americas, said that the project was a perfect example of the interconnection between all peoples that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel.

"None of us stands alone in this world," he said.

Knowing about the need for clean water in his native country, Dut could not return to his life Rochester and do nothing, Father Panepinto said. Upon learning earlier this year of Sudan’s situation, Our Lady of the Americas and St. Joseph parishioners also could not stand by and just offer prayers for help for the Sudanese, Father Panepinto explained. They had to become the prayer, he said.

"What one man has done reverberates from generation to generation to generation," the priest said. "What (two) parishes do reverberates from generation to generation to generation. That’s what God means when he talks of our interconnectedness."

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