Deborah Bauer, Frank Olszyna and husband-and-wife Dorothy and Jeff Flint join more than 700 Catholic lay missionaries who have served communities in the United States and other parts of the world since 1955 when the Lay Mission-Helpers Association (LMH) was founded by Msgr. Anthony Brouwers. The new missionaries will start working as late as July in Catholic schools in Cameroon and a parish in Kenya.“God is still alive and no matter what, He is still in control,’” Divine Word Missionary Father Damian Kabot, St. John the Evangelist pastor, said in his homily after describing a painting where a grandfather is comforting his grandson who is holding on to a teady bear. A burned house appears in the background, he explained. “‘Hush! God ain’t dead’ are the words of the grandfather,” Father Kabot told the assembly. “Jesus is telling his disciples, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. If you have faith in God, have faith also in me. Hush! God ain’t dead!’”And he reiterated words of “comfort and hope” that the Church has been preaching to every generation since Christ’s resurrection. “Do not allow anything to take your peace,” he said. “Do not allow anxiety to control your life.”Lay Mission-Helpers board of directors’ president Deanna Bowers said that throughout their formation she encouraged the newly-commissioned to make prayer part of their everyday life so that God goes with them wherever they are. She also advised them to remain “open-minded” and to listen instead of talking, “especially the first year.”Bowers is a retired nurse who spent three years in Cameroon (2003-2006) in the Diocese of Kumbo, where Bauer — a parishioner at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pasadena — and Olszyna — a parishioner and choir member at St. Catherine Laboure Church in Torrance — have been assigned. Both will teach at Catholic schools in the African diocese, responding to the local needs and requests of Bishop George Nkuo, who in a recent visit to the Archdiocesan Catholic Center recalled the great lessons of sacrifice and commitment learned from his interaction with lay missionaries who taught him in school in the late 1960s.The Flints, parishioners of St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Church in the Bronx, where they were youth ministers for the last nine years, will spend the next three years in Kenya, working as pastoral associates. The pastor of the church they will assist grew up with lay mission helpers in his native Kenya; since being ordained, he requested the Lay Mission-Helpers Association to send missionaries to his parish.During last Sunday’s ceremony, the four missionaries were judged worthy for the task by LMH’s veterans, faculty and by a representative of St. John the Evangelist’s parishioners.“I have had the opportunity and pleasure to observe our candidates for missions the first week when we gathered and shared our life stories with each other to last week when we spent a week in retreat together,” said David Braun, a LMH veteran.“I have found they understood the word of the prophet saying, ‘Whom shall I send?’ They know who because God was talking to you,” he told them.Franciscan Brother John Kiesler, a theology teacher at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, who has been supporting the LMH for the last 10 years, described the new missionaries as “wonderful people who have a real sense of mission”.“I have no doubt that they will allow the spirit to work through them in Kenya and Cameroon,” he told the assembly.Having lived the missionary experience himself in Brazil and in a Native American reservation in Arizona, Brother Kiesler said the LMH program is “one of the jewels in the American Catholic Church.” He commended its great tradition of service, noting that the missions are the “incarnation” of God’s love and of what it means to be a Catholic. “When you’re in contact with real issues of poverty and post-colonialism,” he said, “it allows conversion; it allows God’s grace to free us from sin, fear and social blocks, recognizing we’re brothers and sisters with the other people. Mission is about crossing boundaries that keep us apart.”“It is normal to get homesick,” said Father Gerard O’Brien, pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who concelebrated. “Trust in God and make good friends,” he advised. He described the lay mission program as a “pearl,” a “unique gift to our church.” “It is a joy to have a lay person from our parish going on mission,” he told The Tidings. “We will continue encouraging our parish to join in missions.”Also happy were Bauer’s parents Rosemarie and Joe, visiting from Santa Barbara.“This is as close we can get to a religious life,” said Rosemarie Zea Bauer, who always dreamed of having one of her 13 children join the priesthood or follow a religious life. “We are very happy for her.”For more information about the Lay Mission-Helpers Association, call (213) 368-1873 or visit{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0527/missions/{/gallery}