Ash Wednesday & Week 1
Feb. 22 - March 4

Finding water is a daily struggle for many poor families living in rural Ghana, Malawi and Zambia. It’s a necessary task, but it eats up so much precious time and energy. Even when a source can be found, the water it produces is often risky to drink. Given these hardships, it is easy to understand why these families find it hard to feel hopeful about a better future.

“The average day for a person without a reliable source of water is not always a pleasant one,” said Father John Bosco Edeli from the Diocese of Wa in Ghana, describing how many of the people he serves struggle to find hydration. “Some people may get up early morning, as early as 4 a.m. They will go in search of water and come back; some do come after 8 a.m. in some of the rural. In the end, the hours left for them to go to the farm to do their work are always reduced.”

A community in Zambia gathers to collect water from shallow holes on the banks of a local river.

Because most of these families rely on collecting dirty ground water, contamination is a serious problem too, but there are no alternatives. Water is necessary for survival.

Today’s scripture is the third reading from the first week of Lent, the temptation of Jesus in the desert. As we fast from a favorite food or some other blessing in our life for 40 days, we are commemorating the 40-day time period that Jesus fasted in the desert in preparation for his public ministry.

Jesus’ fasting had a purpose. Ours has a purpose too. Over the next 40 days, you will join other Catholics across the U.S. to pray, fast and give to support Catholic ministries that are providing the priceless gift of clean water to families in need.

Third Reading from the First Sunday of Lent

Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSVCE)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Take Action: Collection Cup

Families in developing countries collect water in jugs or buckets to carry back to their homes. To get into the spirit of the project, make a paper water cup with the origami pattern and instructions below. Use your cup to collect money that you plan on giving to help provide clean water.

1. Take a large, square piece of paper and turn it so that it looks like a diamond.

2. Fold the diamond in half to form a triangle.

3. With the long edge down, fold the left corner diagonally across the center so that the tip meets the right edge.

4. Repeat step 3 for the right corner, folding it diagonally across the center so that the tip meets the left edge of the triangle. It should overlap the side you folded in step 3.

5. Fold the front-top corner down toward you.

6. Fold the rear-top corner backwards away from you. Use your fingers to widen the opening at the top and complete your cup. Decorate the outside to represent Wells of Salvation.

Alternatively, you can use any wide-mouthed cup or water bottle to stay focused on the project’s central purpose: to provide water for those who have none!

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Learning Corner

Families in rural areas suffer from a lack of clean water more than those living in urban areas.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 16.2% of the rural population in Ghana, 9% in Malawi and 43.4% in Zambia are forced to rely on inadequate, often contaminated sources of drinking water. These families typically draw their water from murky streams, ponds or poorly constructed wells. Water from these sources is often tainted with animal waste, parasites, bacteria and chemicals that can cause serious illnesses.

Family Discussion

1. What does the blessing of clean water mean to you?

2. How does it make you feel that many families in Ghana, Malawi and Zambia don’t have clean water to drink?

3. How can we pray for people who are serving the poor, like Fr. John Bosco?

Prayer to Begin This Lenten Journey

God our Father, come to the rescue of families who live without clean water. May your Holy Spirit give them refreshment and empower us as a Catholic family to do what we can to meet this pressing needs. Be with your servant, Fr. John Bosco, as he serves your people in Ghana and works to bring clean water and the Gospel to families struggling to survive. You are their hope and salvation! In your holy name we pray, amen.

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2023, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.