By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer
Deacon Joseph Petrauskas, assigned to St. Columbkill, Boyertown, will embark on an immersion mission trip Jan. 7 to 17 as a global fellow for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). But rather than serving others, he hopes to be the one on the receiving end.
As part of a 10-member team travelling to Egypt, the CRS Global Fellows are priests and deacons who have been trained and vetted to represent CRS in dioceses across the United States. They are available to deliver homilies, give presentations and trainings at large community events, and speak during school assemblies or weekend liturgies.
During his trip to Egypt, he hopes to gain greater insight about the plight of Syrian refugees who have fled because of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war.
“The purpose of the trip is unlike any other mission trip I have been on – not in what we do, but what we receive, by listening to our CRS partners, CRS staff in Egypt, and of course our beneficiaries – the refugees,” said Deacon Petrauskas.
“Listening to what CRS is doing in Egypt and what the Catholic Church is doing to support CRS efforts is the focus of the trip. We will also hear of the struggles of the refugees and the host country, Egypt, who is providing a home for the many who have fled their homeland because of war and violence in Syria,” he said.
Although the itinerary for the immersion mission trip has not been finalized, Deacon Petrauskas said the goal of the trip is to be immersed among the refugees and listen to their stories and struggles.
“Our mission really starts when we return,” he said.
“We will provide firsthand knowledge and information of the good works being done by CRS, to the communities and organizations we serve within our diocese and beyond,” said Deacon Petrauskas.
In addition, Deacon Petrauskas said the team – comprised of two priests, six deacons and two CRS staff members – will enhance their own ministry by providing concrete examples of how others can help CRS end poverty around the world.
After the immersion trip, Deacon Petrauskas will be available to share his experience at parishes, schools and diocesan events. Global fellows do not charge a fee for their visits or presentations.