In July 2015, Brother Christian Klinefelter began our St. Martin de Tours roundtable in Afghanistan. Below are the groups the roundtable and council will support.
MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY: 5 Sisters engaged in caring for mentally and physically disabled children and for abandoned orphaned children. At present, they have 11 children in their house. They also care for 321 poor families with 2066 children. They accept any kind of donation.
PBK (Pro Bambini di Kabul): Intercongregational community with 3 Sisters (from the following Congregations: Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine of Siena; Sisters of St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo; Daughters of St. Mary of Divine Providence—Don Guanella) engaged in inclusive education for mentally disabled children. At present, they have 40 children. They especially need school supplies.
LITTLE SISTERS OF JESUS: The first catholic Sisters in Afghanistan (since 1955). 3 Sisters engaged in public health services. They need financial support, because they are not salaried.
Mother’s Teresa Missionaries of Charity: Their mission is to care for (in Mother Teresa's words) "the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." It began as a small community with 12 members in Calcutta, and today it has over 4,500 Sisters running orphanages, AIDS hospices, charity centres worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine in Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe and Australia.
Little Sisters of Jesus: Their mission is marked by the simple friendship that exists between persons of different religions and backgrounds. They live a contemplative religious life right in the midst of the world and in little communities. They mix into the ordinary life of the peoples who welcome them to help them, often in places of division and exclusion, they share the same living conditions, work, joys, sufferings, and struggles.
Pro Bambini di Kabul (PBK) Sisters: The association "Pro Children of Kabul" (PBK) NGO is actually formed by fourteen congregations. The PBK sisters mission here at Kabul is to support a day care center for mentally disabled children, severely discriminated against and segregated even in the home by the family. In this center the Sisters share and show the good news that God loves his creatures without discrimination of race, color, religion, physical or mental disability. That is the message they announce through the center to a company torn apart by prejudice and violence. The day care center only accommodates about 40 children, but for families and for children in this battered country it is a beacon of light and hope.
As the Christmas season is now in full celebration across the globe (With our brothers and sisters on the Julian calendar celebrating on January 7th), we take a look at this year's celebration in Afghanistan including the visit of a very special guest.
As we say farewell (and welcome home) to our St. Martin de Tours Roundtable Chairman - SK Christian Klinefelter, we welcome SK Todd Libby as our new Roundtable Chairman in Kabul.
Msgr. Giovani Scalese has also provided his quarterly newsletter which may be found here.
Below, members may find linked three parish newsletters from Monsignor Scalese, pastor of the Italian Embassy chapel and the senior pastoral authority in Afghanistan.
Two articles have recently been published covering the the Church in Afghanistan and the ongoing work of the St. Martin de Tours Roundtable of the Knights of Columbus in collaboration with the Catholic Chapel at the Italian Embassy.
The First article, Afghanistan, 'the heart of martyred Asia', consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima, explains the recent consecration of Afghanistan to the care of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in bringing peace and a resolution to the current situation in Afghanistan.
The second article, The Church in Afghanistan, is an interview with Fr. Giovanni Scalese, CRSP about his mission to serve and minister to Catholics, Christians, and the country of Afghanistan. It is a very interesting read into the on-the-ground realities for a Catholic Priest in a conflict zone.
The possibility to host a Catholic Chaplain within the Italian “legation” was provided by “The Agreement between Italy and Afghanistan to exchange permanent diplomatic missions” in 1921. King Amanullah, grateful to Italy for being the first western country to recognize formally the independence of Afghanistan, showed himself sensitive to the demand of the Catholics that were then present in the country and were asking for the spiritual assistance of a priest. Since the Arab conquest of Persia and Central Asia in the seventh century A.D., it was the first time that a Muslim government authorized the official establishment of a Catholic presence in Afghanistan, although prohibiting proselytism.
For this delicate task, Pope Pius XI chose the Barnabite Father EGIDIO CASPANI, a historian and a language scholar. After a month long adventurous journey, he arrived in Kabul on Christmas afternoon in 1932 to finally inaugurate the Chapel on the 1st of January 1933.
Since then, none of the various regimes or political-military upheavals that characterized the Afghan history (the monarchy in its diverse aspects, the republic established by Daoud, the communist regime, the soviet invasion, the Mujahideen’s reconquest, the civil war, the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban) has ever led to the expulsion of the Catholic Mission, which, furthermore, was praised by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its constant and tenacious presence during those difficult years.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II established the Independent Mission of Afghanistan (Missio sui iuris Afghanistaniensis), naming the Chaplain of the Italian Embassy as Ecclesiastical Superior of the Mission with the function of Local Ordinary for Catholics temporarily residing in the country.
The missionaries of Kabul were Father CASPANI (1933-1947), Father GIOVANNI BERNASCONI (1947-1957), Father RAFFAELE NANNETTI (1957-1965), Father ANGELO PANIGATI (1965-1990) and Father GIUSEPPE MORETTI (1990-2015). Currently, the Mission is led by Father GIOVANNI SCALESE.
Members of the Afghanistan Roundtable, sponsored by Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle Council #11302, continue their Charitable work in the name of the Order at Camp RS and in their surrounding community. Continuing their ministry for Knights and the Catholic community on base, the Roundtable has been collecting donated clothes, toys, food, toiletries, backpacks and school supplies which were donated to religious sisters of Saint Mother Theresa's Missionaries of Charity for their local mission.
May saw the departure of Sir Knight Jerry Farkas of Council at the end of his tour of duty. Jerry was the Roundtable's most active volunteer, organizing and driving our donations to the various nuns in Kabul, the Afghan Scouts, our shredded paper bricks for heating the homes of the poorest, our exemplifications, and our altar servers and readers. Fortunately, Jerry has named and trained five other volunteers to take up each of his key activities.
Recently, members of the Roundtable, including two of our newest Knights - John Harding and Patrick Flanagan, visited the Italian Embassy for a farewell Mass and party for the last two Sisters of the Poor to serve in Kabul.
They entered holy service in Aix-en-Provence France (Les Petites Soeurs des Pauvres) and Sister Mariam arrived in Kabul for the first time 45 years ago, serving over 37 years here, while Sister Katerina has served here for 32 years!
Their order was the first order to establish a presence with the Italian Embassy Chapel in 1955, and they have served here non-stop since then, even as the only Catholic presence during the entire civil war and Taliban occupation. Two of their sisters departed a couple weeks ago, and Mariam and Katerina will the last to depart.
The Afghan Roundtable spent the month of March busy doing charity.
"Early March - A Knights daughter, who works for Payless Shoes in the San Antonio, TX area, got her colleagues, employers, friends, family, neighbors, and church to donate in her shoe drive for Kabul children. We could not even show all of the donations in one photo, and the variety was stunning: everything from cowboy/girl boots to dancing slippers!
We loaded them all into the station wagon of Mother’s Teresa Missionaries of Charity, using up every available cubic inch of space. Once again, our two nuns had to share one front seat to go home.
On 28 March, we visited the Catholic Chapel on the Italian Embassy. The Knights presented Catholic nuns with a substantial cash donation."
Members of the Afghan Roundtable took time out of their busy day to load a large van for two of our nuns from the Italian Embassy who feed about 2,000 of the poorest in Kabul and support a number of orphanages.
O'Boyle council is proud of how the roundtable packed their van to full capacity. Stay safe and proclaim the gospel!
Brother John Borley has lead the way in connecting our Afghan roundtable with the local scout group. The roundtable spent the day with 21 Afghan Scouts and their 4 adult leaders. Eight of the 21 scouts are women. Great job!
The St. Martin de Torres Roundtable in Afghanistan went to the Italian Embassy to attend Mass and deliver some of The Rock Chapel donations to the Missionaries of Charity, the Little Sisters of Kabul, and the ro Bambini di Kabul sisters. Brother Christian reported the donations were the first delivery using the newly acquired armored Sprinter van last Sunday.
The increase in the carrying capacity was enormous relative to the previous use of only one up-armored Suburban. The most touching story was how COL Kelly’s 8-year-old daughter donated her entire collection of Barbie and Ken dolls for the orphans. They were a big hit with the nuns.
"Today, the Knights of Columbus is providentially positioned to play a key role in the new alliance between the Church and the family called for by Pope Francis … What is necessary now is our greater involvement in the renewal of parish and family life."
-Supreme Knight Carl Anderson