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Ebola Virus Threatens Xaverian Missionary Ministry in Sierra Leone
Diocese of Makeni reports four victims succomb to deadly virus.
US Provincial Fr. Carl Chudy SX, who served in Sierra Leone from 1980 to 1982 and visited there in May 2013 to conduct a retreat for Xaverian priests, states: “The Xaverian Missionaries arrived in Sierra Leone in 1950. We started out in the north where the population is predominantly Muslim and therefore the Gospel finds it hard to make inroads. There we concentrated our attention on schools, cooperatives, health care, and the victims of leprosy. Today there are more than twenty Xaverians working in the northern part of the country, as well as the capital city of Freetown with its own diocese and local clergy, serving thriving parish communities in this predominately Muslim nation.”
An outbreak of Ebola has been ongoing in Sierra Leone since May 2014. This outbreak also affects Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria and is the largest outbreak of Ebola in history. Affected districts in Sierra Leone include Bo, Bombali, Bonthe, Kailahun, Kambia, Kenema, Kono, Moyamba, Port Loko, Pujehun, Tonkolili, and Western Area, including the capital of Freetown. Instances of civil unrest and violence against aid workers have been reported in West Africa as a result of the outbreak. The public health infrastructure in Sierra Leone is being severely strained as the outbreak grows.
Ebola virus disease (also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a rare and deadly disease. The disease is native to several African countries and is caused by infection with one of the ebolaviruses (Ebola, Sudan, Bundibugyo, or Taï Forest virus). It is spread by direct contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids. It is also spread by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals.
Eight hundred Xaverian missionaries currently serve in: Bangladesh, Burundi, Brazil, Cameroon, Chad, Columbia, Dem. Republic of Congo, Gr. Britain, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Mozambique, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, and USA
Mission: “We share the Love of Christ with people across different faiths and cultures, by proclaiming the Good News of Jesus in new Christian churches. Inspired by St. Francis Xavier and St. Guido M. Conforti, we are a Catholic religious community committed to serving God in the poor.”