Mac Bryant is familiar firsthand with the adage: Want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.
Last year due to dwindling funds, Bryant planned to shut down a nonprofit organization started by his parents, Frank and Patricia Bryant, in the early 1980s: The Sister Kathleen Mission.
They established the organization to support mission work in Zambia, Africa, following a trip to visit their daughter—Religious Sister of Charity Kathleen Bryant—who served in rural areas of the impoverished country for five years.
The Sister Kathleen Mission thrived for several years, providing a hospital, food, medical supplies and farming resources to the country. Bryant took over as president in 1995, after both of his parents had passed away.
“The last several years, it’s been really, really slow. I had pretty much made up my mind to close it (The Sister Kathleen Mission),” Bryant said. “Then we went to Ethiopia to get our little girl.”
In December 2009 Bryant and his wife Yolanda made a three-day journey from Denver to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to adopt their daughter Ruth from an orphanage.
“It was the beginning of a spiritual journey that would change our lives forever,” he said. “As always is the case, God had a plan for us on this trip and we didn’t know it.”
Toward the end of their visit in Ethiopia—a predominantly Christian country with more than 345,000 Catholics according to 2006 figures—they were inspired to contact the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa to see if there were some missionary projects they could visit.
The archdiocese put them in touch with Samuel Muse, project manager for the Angel’s Children’s Home, an orphanage that provides a home, education and life skills for boys age 12 and up.
“They’re boys considered too old for adoption, practically,” Bryant said. “(Without Angel’s Home) they’d end up right back in the cycle of poverty.”
Angel’s Children’s Home was founded in 2004 by lay Missionary of Charity Monica Tonna Barthet. After witnessing the suffering of orphans during a trip there, Barthet returned to her home in Gharghur, Malta; sold all of her possessions and used the proceeds to build the home.
Angel’s Home provides 24 young men room and board, a Catholic education, medical support, counseling, and skills such woodworking, farming and welding. Many of the residents come from the nearby Missionaries of Charity Sisters’ Home founded by Mother Teresa.
“They’re teaching them survival skills, so they can survive in their own country,” Bryant said.
During their visit Bryant—a certified public accountant and director of the internal audit office for the Denver Archdiocese—asked how the home was funded. Muse told them the primary source of support was the pension of “the wonderful lady who started this project”—76-year-old Barthet.
“What happens when that source of income runs out? Will these 24 boys be pushed out into the streets again?” Bryant asked.
“It struck me when I walked out, that if someone doesn’t support this place it’s going to go under,” he said. “There’s so much demand there; the poverty is unlike anything we’ve seen or experienced in the U.S.”
That’s when he responded to the call to revive the work started by his parents nearly 30 years earlier.
“It was a calling,” he said. “It was like God said, ‘Hey, you’ve already got this not-for-profit established; you know what to do. Continue the work, support this home.’”
In May 2010 he officially established a Colorado presence for The Sister Kathleen Mission. The volunteer-run 501(c)3 organization only supports ministries in adherence with Catholic teaching, including life issues. Their primary goal is to fund self-help programs overseas, primarily in Africa, such as the Angel’s Children’s Home.
“We ask you to keep the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves in your prayers,” Bryant said. “I’m sure that God is smiling at the efforts we make to take care of each other.”
For more information on the Sister Kathleen Mission or to donate, visit www.sisterkathleenmission.org.
Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.