As part of a humanitarian effort to help children in need throughout the world, St. Mary Parish in Canaseraga has formed a committee to raise money to purchase a van for Sister Stan's Children Inc., to help Sister Stan Terese Mario Mumuni, of the Marian Sisters of Eucharistic Love, transport children to her orphanage in Ghana. Sister Stan has made it her life's goal to help "spirit children," infants born with birth defects who would otherwise have been rejected by their families.
According to some locals, children with birth defects, ranging from cleft lips or palates to disabilities, are to be left "in the bush," or abandoned. Even twins are considered to be abnormal and are not accepted by some members of the local community.
The committee, including pastor Father John Cullen, Jennifer Spoth, Jim Claire and Amy Mikołajczyk, has been on the lookout for a suitable 12- to 15-passenger vehicle, preferably one that is "under five years old with decent mileage, preferrably 25,000 or under," Spoth explained. It would be used to bring children to the Nazareth Home for God's Children, Sister Stan's orphanage in the village of Sang, Ghana.
In addition to St. Mary's, other local parishes involved in the effort include Our Lady of the Valley in Hornell and SS. Brendan and Jude in Alfred. Since October 2016, the community near Canaseraga has helped raise almost $10,000. St. Mary's is now reaching outside of its own vicariate.
"St. Mary's got involved because Sister Stan knew Father Peter Anglaaere from St. Ann's in Hornell. They're from the same village in Ghana," Spoth commented. "Through visiting him, she got over to our parish. She met Father John Cullen, our pastor, and she had a little girl, Precious, with her at the time. Precious was here because she needed some operations."
"Sister Stan had been over here a couple of times. I had met her and some of the kids. One day after Mass, she asked me for a van. She said she needed a van because she was driving the kids around in a pickup truck, and even the police over there told her that she can't be doing that," Father Cullen said. "I figured we could probably do something, and looked into it. I started asking and talking to people, and it's just the right thing to do."
Through Sister Stan's work, these children also are able to come to the United States to have corrective surgery performed on defects. Spoth called Sister Stan a "sweet, wonderful person with so much passion for the children and what she does," noting that Sister Stan has a great desire to get safe means of transportation for the children.
"We're not a rich parish by any means, but you can do what you can do, and by the grace of God, I think we'll get it done," Father Cullen concluded. "We are about halfway there, and we've done it within a year. We've gotten some really substantial contributions from people of modest income."
"It's a wonderful ministry she has. It's just a beautiful ministry, and we just want to support that all we can. So often, people will say that charity begins at home, but it doesn't end there."
Donations may be made out to St. Mary Parish, with a memo of "Sister Stan Van," to St. Mary's, P.O. Box 189, Canaseraga, NY 14822.
For more information, contact Jim Claire at 607-324-4348 or Jennifer Spoth at 607-295-8206, or visit Sister Stan online at sisterstanschildren.org.