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Answering God’s call in Nepal

BRISBANE lay evangelist Jan Heath has been travelling to the ends of the earth to follow’s God’s calling.

It has taken her to almost every continent.

Mrs Heath, who is a parishioner at Petrie, has just returned from Nepal where she helped conduct a religious retreat with Marist Father Jack Soulsby, also of Brisbane.

They also delivered clothing and support to orphans and AIDS victims.

Mrs Heath said her 16-day trip last month highlighted to her the lack of freedom for the Nepalese people.

“There is no freedom of choice in religion,” Mrs Heath said.

“The constitution of Nepal forbids conversion to another religion.”

The trip was Mrs Heath’s 23rd short-term mission to an overseas developing country since 1993.

“The main thing for baptised Catholics to do is to find out what God wants us to do,” she said.

“This is what God wants me to do.”

Mrs Heath’s trips are largely financed by her husband Graham, and she said without his “unending” support she could not be “an ambassador for Christ”.

“My husband works hard and he supports me to help spread the message of the Gospel,” she said.

Mrs Heath spread the Gospel message at a retreat she conducted with Fr Soulsby in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

“It was really interesting to actually conduct the retreat,” she said.

Mrs Heath said one of the religious on the retreat said, “I have come from monotony to magnificent change, I now have a renewed commitment to release the full potential of the Nepalese people”.

She said the major problems for the priests in Nepal were that their schools were being bombed at night by Maoist terrorists.

Mrs Heath said people were disappearing, there was torture, rape and illegal detentions, all designed to harass and intimidate civilians and the clergy.

She said to add to the woes of the people during the past 10 years the nation has been going through political turmoil and more than 12,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict.

Mrs Heath said since the Catholic Church entered Nepal in 1951 it had offered quality education for Nepalese children.

She said despite restrictions the Church has been actively involved in the promotion of social justice and development, especially in the education sector.

“There are 7500 Catholics in a population of 25 million,” she said.

Mrs Heath is hoping an Australian parish will assist a struggling young Church in Nepal and commit to pray for them and possibly supply financial help.

“I did promise that when I returned I would create awareness of the needs of the Church in Nepal and ask that we, the Church in Australia, would pray for them,” Mrs Heath said.

Any parish able to help Mrs Heath with her work in Nepal can phone her on (07) 3886 6718.

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