liberia

Back to School At Liberia Mission

St. Anthony Students Lining Up for Their First Lesson

St. Anthony Students Lining Up for Their First Lesson

A new school year has begun at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School! 

We are also welcoming back our residential students to Liberia Mission. They returned on Sunday, September 2, accompanied by their parents or guardians. With them, they brought various items, such as clothes, bowls, and soap. Bringing these items teaches them responsibility and appreciation for what they receive while also helping to contribute to Liberia Mission's communal life. Although these students may lament the end of their summer break, everybody was happy to be back--in their “super suits” no less! ("Super suit" is the nickname the students gave to the hospital scrub uniform that they wear while at the mission.)  

The first days of the week were filled with orientations and handbook reviews. Our Director, John Raymond Alpha, informed the residential students student that they will participate in activities such as Bible dramas and spelling bees this year, in addition to their agriculture time when they work on our farm and in our piggery. This will teach them a diverse set of valuable life skills. 

Two St. Anthony students ready for their first day!

Two St. Anthony students ready for their first day!

Our New Bathroom!

Our New Bathroom!

As all the students return, we tell God thank you for all the improvements our high school students made to the Mission over the summer. They built our new school bathroom, improved our piggery and farm, and even painted the school! The new bathroom is especially exciting for everyone. This will mean we have the necessary sanitation and wash rooms needed for our 450+ student body.  It is a wonderful facility that was envisioned by one of our B.W.I. students, Jacob. Jacob studied drafting and used those skills to design the bathrooms. Thanks to the hard work of many--and generosity of our donors--our students will now have clean, new bathrooms on campus.  Thank you!

We are grateful for our teachers who work very hard to provide excellent curriculum throughout the school year. 

We are grateful for our teachers who work very hard to provide excellent curriculum throughout the school year. 

Our teachers and school administration are also back in action, working harder than ever to help St. Anthony of Padua remain one of the best schools in the country.  Through weeks of training sessions and curriculum preparations, they too are working hard to break the cycle of poverty for youth in Liberia by being agents of quality, Catholic education.

On Friday, September 7, Fr. Yao, pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, came to celebrate Holy Mass for the first school Mass of the year.  There was a vibrant moment of Liberian style praise and worship singing before Fr. Yao arrived. The atmosphere was electric! In his homily, Fr. Yao preached to the students about the importance of doing well in school by looking ahead toward the future and leaving behind the shortcomings of our past actions. We are very grateful to Fr. Yao and Fr. Charles for the Spiritual Providence they bring us, despite their busy schedules!

Student bringing offerings during St. Anthony's first Mass of the year.

Student bringing offerings during St. Anthony's first Mass of the year.

It is yet another new beginning at Liberia Mission.  We are celebrating our 15th anniversary in November; as we contemplate the joys, sufferings, accomplishments, and setbacks of the past fifteen years, we can only give thanks to God.  Secondly, we thank our benefactors who have faithfully contributed to the prosperity of Liberia and its youth. If we all continue together with Jesus, there is no doubt we will celebrate countless anniversaries to come.  Thank you and God bless!

Liberia Mission's Summer Work Program

Students digging for irrigation on LMI grounds. 

Students digging for irrigation on LMI grounds. 

The Summer Work Program at Liberia Mission is an annual employment opportunity for some of our sponsored high school students.  We have different projects every summer which we hire students to do, giving them income and job experience while helping us beautify the campus. The money that the students earn helps them to purchase books and school supplies for the upcoming academic year.  They also learn valuable, practical work skills in the process. All of the funding for the projects comes from the generosity of our sponsors.

Students working on our cucumber crop. 

Students working on our cucumber crop. 

The students began the program this year with a general clean-up of the property.  They organized piles of old tin roofing and did a LOT of brushing (Liberian term for cutting the grass).  From there, some of the students began to clear and cultivate the land for planting new crops. Our goal is to drastically reduce money spent on produce at the local market by supplying our own fruits and vegetables through the agriculture program.  By God's grace, we will cut costs while also teaching the students valuable farming skills.

The St. Isidore Piggery, another vocational training program that teaches the students how to raise pigs and bring them to market, has also received some major renovations. The roof has been repaired and extended, giving better, much-needed protection to the pigs during the heavy downpours experienced in the Liberian rainy season. The walls have also been repaired with cement, scrubbed, and painted, so that the piggery upholds the standard of cleanliness that it is well known for.

This is St. Isadore's Piggery before its rennovations. 

This is St. Isadore's Piggery before its rennovations. 

Our capital work project this summer is the construction of new bathrooms for St. Anthony of Padua School.  We have 450 students, 20 school workers and only 4 toilets. The current bathroom was built when we only had an elementary school. It has 2 toilets for the girls, 1 for the boys, and 1 for the teachers.  

One of our students at Booker Washington Institute drafted the plans for the new facility. The girls’ bathroom will have 7 toilets and 5 sinks; the boys’ bathroom will have 4 urinals, 3 toilets, and 5 sinks.  There will also be running water throughout! The teachers will remain in the old bathroom, allowing the students to take full advantage of the new facilities.

Our student Jacob is seen here drawing up blueprints for our bathroom construction project. He is studying drafting at Booker Washington Institute and gains practical experience through our summer work program. 

Our student Jacob is seen here drawing up blueprints for our bathroom construction project. He is studying drafting at Booker Washington Institute and gains practical experience through our summer work program. 

We are still in the foundation-digging phase, but we are moving along at a swift pace. The rain has been constant and heavy this July, and we have not been able to receive truckloads of river sand to mix with cement because the rivers are too high. We have not let this stop us, though! The students have been digging sand from our very own soccer field just so the work can go forward. Please pray that the rain lets up enough for us to receive the materials we need and to be able to work at a pace that will get the job done in time.

Students working on the bathroom foundation.

Students working on the bathroom foundation.

All of these projects and renovations would not be possible without the gifts of our donors. YOU make our vocational program possible and are directly impacting the lives of our student workers. We are so grateful. If you would like to support our summer work program, you can make a gift and note that it is for our work program in the "Gift Note" box. Thank you to each person who shares in our lives and makes the work of LMI a reality everyday.

2018 Graduation

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Graduation ceremonies in Liberia are joyous, celebratory occasions.  Those at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School are no exception. Whether it be the graduation of kindergarteners or ninth-graders, the day is highlighted by inspirational speeches, special awards, and well-rehearsed songs that give thanks to God. The day is bright from the attendees colorful African lapas, the traditional clothes worn for celebrations.

Families and staff came together wearing colorful lapas, tradition African celebration wear, to honor the work os St. Anthony's students.

Families and staff came together wearing colorful lapas, tradition African celebration wear, to honor the work os St. Anthony's students.

Use the tools and knowledge you have acquired for a better future for Liberia.
— Father Charles Boyce

It was standing-room-only in a packed St. Michael the Archangel Chapel as many happy parents and family members came out in support of their children.  Staying true to our motto—“GOD-EDUCATION-WORK”—we began the day with Holy Mass, celebrated by our friend and spiritual benefactor, Father Charles Boyce, from Immaculate Conception Parish (the parish that we belong to).  Father inspired us during his homily as he urged the graduates to use the tools and knowledge they have acquired for a better future for Liberia.

Father Charles Boyce giving an inspiring homily to the graduates.

Father Charles Boyce giving an inspiring homily to the graduates.

After Mass we began the graduation program.  The principal, Mr. Joseph Kulah, welcomed all to the occasion before introducing Mr. Kweh Menyen, Vice Principal for Instruction.  Mr. Menyen gave a detailed report of the students’ academic performance at St. Anthony showing that our school performs at the highest level.  

Following Mr. Menyen was a solo vocal performance by one of the female students. All present were touched by her effort and the song’s lyrics, sung to God: “You are too good to us.” After the song came Mr. Mark Karley, Vice Principal for Student Affairs, who gave a behavioral assessment of the student body.  Various awards were given out for good behavior, and the top achiever was even given a one-year, full scholarship to St. Anthony’s! Following the awards was a skit performed by students from the eight-grade class. The overall message of the skit preached the values of honesty and transparency when interacting with friends and colleagues—an important message for Liberia!  

Discern exactly what kind of Liberia you want and work for it.
— Josephine Francise, Liberian Senatorial Candidate

Former Representative and current Senatorial Candidate, Mrs. Josephine Francise, was this year’s guest speaker.  During her time in the Liberian House of Representatives, she worked alongside President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and was an advocate for, among other things, education, agricultural development, and women’s rights.  Her speech focused on urging the students to discern exactly what kind of Liberia they wanted and were willing to work for. She was a very charismatic speaker and surely left a lasting impression on the student body.  

After the guest speaker, it was finally time to hand out the graduation certificates!  Mr. Kulah, Fr. Charles, and our beloved director, Mr. John Raymond Alpha, all took turns in shaking the hands of both the kindergarteners and ninth-graders alike.  Many happy parents looked on as their children received acknowledgment for an academic job well done!

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St. Anthony students pose with their certificate and flower bouquets in our chapel.

St. Anthony students pose with their certificate and flower bouquets in our chapel.

The teachers themselves then proceeded out from the back of the chapel while singing jubilantly.  Although they received a hearty round of applause from all in attendance, they did this more as a show of their own thanks to the school and of their passion for teaching- we have awesome teachers!

Nothing that just took place would have been possible without the generosity and hard work of Franciscan Works and its donors and sponsors.
— Alpha Raymond, Director of Liberia Mission

Finally, in closing, Mr. Alpha addressed all those in attendance. He began by sincerely thanking Franciscan Works, noting that nothing that just took place would have been possible without the generosity and hard work of the organization and its donors and sponsors. He then went on to encourage the students, saying it would be extremely regrettable if the students did not share with their countrymen (and humanity in general) the knowledge and values they had acquired while attending St. Anthony’s.  He noted that we give the greatest glory to God when serving our fellow brothers and sisters.

Students pose with family outside the chapel following the service.

Students pose with family outside the chapel following the service.

All in all, it was a day that marked success: success for the students, for Liberia Mission, and, most especially, for the Gospel message.  As the students and their families departed for various graduation parties, the teachers and school administration convened one more time to shake each other’s hands and congratulate each other on a job well done.  They would then leave for their one month vacation, a well-deserved break that would re-energize and prepare them for the upcoming school year, when the hard work would begin again!