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January 27, 2005 Edition

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This week:
Thomas Awiapo: Catholic Relief Services changed his life
Curtis Martin: Next speaker in lecture series
• Front page: Catholic Schools Week proclamation
Nominate someone for "Profiles from the pew"
News Briefs

News Briefs:
First aid course
with adult CPR

MADISON -- "Heartsaver: First Aid Course with Adult CPR" provides basic first aid certification and CPR for individuals who would like training for job or personal reasons.

The course will be offered Saturday, Feb. 5, from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Dean West Clinic, lower level Health Works, 752 N. High Point Rd.

No prior first aid experience is required. Course fee is $55. Participants must preregister by calling 608-824-4400 or 1-800-368-5596.

Support groups
for divorced, separated

MADISON -- Peer support groups for those hurting from separation, divorce, or loss of a significant relationship are open to all ages/faiths.

New Directions will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, at St. Dennis Parish Center, 413 Dempsey Rd., top floor. For information, call 608-821-3170.

Friends on a Journey will meet from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, at Our Lady Queen of Peace nursery, 401 S. Owen Dr. For information, call Paul at 608-862-3613.

Culture camp
for children, families

MADISON -- The Post Adoption Resource Center is planning a culture camp for African American and biracial children and their families as a way to celebrate Black History Month on Saturday, Feb. 5, from noon to 4 p.m. at Warner Park.

There will be a speaker, African-American arts and crafts for the children, dancers, drumming by Atimevu Drum and Dance, and other activities.

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Thomas Awiapo: Catholic Relief Services changed his life

MADISON -- Born in Ghana, West Africa, Thomas Awiapo was orphaned by age 10 - and if it weren't for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), he wouldn't be who he is today.

Sharing his experiences as both a beneficiary of CRS and as a CRS staff member, Awiapo spoke recently with staff members of the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in Madison.

He visited Madison for meetings and discussions regarding the Global Solidarity Partnership project. The Diocese of Madison has a relationship with the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga in northern Ghana. Awiapo served as the guide and liaison for the Diocese of Madison's first delegation to Ghana.

Childhood survival

Awiapo grew up in a small town with no electricity. "In my village, the only water I saw was from the rivers," which they used to drink, bathe, and had to share with the animals, he said.

Some suffered from the germs in that water, others died, and others survived, he said, noting that doctors and hospitals were unknown entities.

His father died when he was eight and his mother died when he was nine, leaving four boys to survive on their own.

"The four of us used to fight over food," he said.

His two youngest brothers died of malnutrition and lack of care. His older brother disappeared from the village and Awiapo has not seen him for 27 years.

Interest in school

Awiapo stayed in the village, where CRS opened a school.

"Going to school was not on my agenda," he said, explaining that none of his family had gone to school. But CRS made sure there was a snack and lunch served to the children who came to school, "so I went to school because I was looking for food."

Today, thanks to the educational start he received from CRS, Awiapo holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of California at Hayward. He is a senior program officer for Catholic Relief Services and works in Tamale, Ghana.

Through CRS, we can see the power of providing food in school in Ghana, he said, noting that CRS has helped to change the lives of millions of children.

Touching lives

Awiapo spoke of the soybean/donkey project in which people in the Diocese of Madison raised money to provide 66 donkeys for 66 women in different villages in Ghana. The donkeys are used for farming and transportation.

"With a donkey, you can farm acres in a day," he said. With a donkey and a cart, women who are deprived and powerless will be able to provide food for their children.

So through the relationship between the two dioceses, lots of lives will be touched, he said.

CRS objectives

Talking about what he does as a CRS staff person, Awiapo discussed his objectives:

• Providing school lunch - because there are children who walk 10 miles to school and back on empty stomachs.

• Encouraging families to send their daughters to school. In the past, mostly boys were educated. Families are now provided incentives to educate girls.

• Providing infrastructure support such as classrooms and furniture for poor communities.

• Providing community mobilization and sensitization. Awiapo also tries to get people to ask questions and get involved in trying to solve the root causes of poverty.

People do a lot for CRS and "I'm an indication of all those sacrifices," he said. "CRS made me who I am."

Global Solidarity

J. Mark Brinkmoeller, director of the Diocese of Madison's Office for Justice and Peace, talked about the Global Solidarity Partnership between the Diocese of Madison and the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga. "We hope to have a delegation of 12 people from Ghana come to Madison in the fall of this year," he said.

Then, in 2006, the centennial year of the Diocese of Navrongo-Bolgatanga, another delegation from Madison may travel to Ghana.

For more information on the partnership program, contact the Office for Justice and Peace, 608-821-3086 or e-mail:

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Curtis Martin: Next speaker in lecture series

MADISON -- Curtis Martin, president and founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), will deliver the next address in the St. Thérèse of Lisieux Lecture Series on Thursday, March 3, at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in Madison.

His address is entitled "New Evangelization and 'the Saints' of the New Millennium."

FOCUS is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing movements in the Catholic Church.

Through humor, stories, and his own life experiences, Martin allows people to see how faith in God is lived out in everyday life. He aims to equip people with the tools to discover the fullness of life and happiness.

Martin has a master's degree in theology and is a co-author of Boys to Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue and Family Matters: A Scripture Study on Marriage and Family.

He and his wife Michaelann host the EWTN television series Family Matters. They live in Greeley, Colo., with their seven children.

Admission to the lecture is by ticket only. To request a free ticket, contact: Office of Pastoral Services, phone 608-821-3083, or e-mail

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Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
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