Through the generosity of the people of Athlone area, The Knights of St Columbanus were able to afford approximately €4,500 to local charities including the Father PJ Hughes Mission Fund, before Christmas of last year.
The Knights raised the money through a successfully hosted quiz night and a members/friends Lotto Bonus draw.
Father PJ, who was a curate in St. Mary’s in Athlone for six years, joined the Missionary Society of St James the Apostle to undertake a five year mission in Guayaquil, Ecuador in January 2009. He remained in situ for eight and a half years before returning to Ireland.
He stated that it was not uncommon for a parish of 27,000 people to have just one priest. As a result, there is a much greater involvement by the laity in the day-to-day running of parishes. Discussing the level of development in the country, he stated that “you would have to go back maybe 50 or 60 years” to find the same conditions in Ireland.
Poverty was and remains a massive problem in most parts of Ecuador, people’s diet consists mainly of rice and bananas and some days chicken. They live from day to day, rarely knowing from where the next day’s meal is going to come.
Much of Fr PJ’s work was based initially around building infrastructure including a school and churches. The Knights was able to give in excess of €30,000 to these projects and so many poor families have benefited also from the generosity of the people of Athlone area receiving food, clothes and books for school.
After arriving home to Ireland following his extended work in Ecuador, Fr P J was assigned to Leamonaghan parish in Offaly where he spent two years before being relocated to become PP of Mullahoran in County Cavan and Diocesan Director of Missions for Ardagh and Clonmacnois. He has kept in touch with his parish in Guayaquil and gives support wherever he can.
The Knights of St Columbanus committed themselves to sponsor three children’s school education each year if money was available. As well as the Knights, children from Coosan Primary school and some private individuals have donated to support this cause. As a result, seven children have been helped this year with their annual fees.
Four children got a full grant of 320 dollars, while three got a half grant of 10 dollars. Their names are Keyler Emiliano Anapa Choillo, Kiara Noemi Urdanigo Montero, Eder Moises Anapa Chacon and Josue Alexander Indio Timaran, while three children received a half grant of 160 dollars. They are George Patricio Anapa Perdomo, Mayli Fernanda Moreira Andrade and Danna Emma Anapa Garcia.
Fr PJ is very appreciative of these donations.
“In this case it means that these children are getting a start in life which they might not otherwise have received. Sincere thanks to those who supported the draw and the quiz night, raising funds for worthwhile causes,” Fr PJ said.