Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - Updated: 2:31 pm
When Pope Francis inaugurated October as Extraordinary Missionary Month on Oct. 1, he said the observance is meant to “jolt us and motivate us to be active in doing good. Not notaries of faith and guardians of grace, but missionaries.”
The job of Deacon Rick Tucek, who heads the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Mission Office, is to ensure that the good works of missionaries worldwide are supported prayerfully and financially.
He oversees collections for World Mission Sunday (see Bishop David Zubik’s letter on Page 4), Oct. 19-20; the Mission Co-op Plan, which arranges for foreign missionaries to speak at parishes and collect money; and the Missionary Childhood Association, urging local children to help youths at various missions around the world.
“We are actually an arm of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the national society,” Deacon Tucek said, explaining his job responsibilities. He also serves as a deacon in the five-parish grouping in Monroeville and Penn Hills.
“Another arm or piece of our work is for the Chimbote Foundation,” he said.
For more than 50 years the diocese has supported a mission in Chimbote, Peru, to help the “poorest of the poor” in the desert community. The 54th Annual Peru Mission Dinner is planned for Thursday, Oct. 24, in the Charles J. Dougherty Ballroom at Duquesne University. A reception will be at 6 p.m., with dinner at 7.
Other Chimbote Foundation fundraisers include an annual golf outing and projects in local Catholic schools.
Deacon Tucek, who was a Chimbote mission team member in 2016, is pleased that no administrative fees are deducted from donations to the diocesan mission.
“So, if somebody donates $100 to the Chimbote Foundation that night, $100 goes to the maternity hospital down there, the orphanage and taking care of people out in the barrios,” he said.
He especially enjoyed visiting people in the barrio, a poor residential area, accompanying nurses visiting patients who aren’t well enough to travel to the mission’s hospital.
Deacon Tucek prayed with Chimbote’s needy, gave away rosaries and played with children in the mission’s orphanage. He fell in love with the people of Chimbote and is planning to return there next summer.
This year nine college students received the inaugural Mike Clark-WTAE-TV Travel Award that provided $1,500 scholarships to allow the students to be part of summer mission teams to Peru.
“Their job is to go and see and work there, and then come back and spread the word,” Deacon Tucek said.
“Hopefully we create a missionary heart in them, that they realize that people are in desperate need out there all across the world, and we have to do what we can to help them.”
Anyone wishing to attend the annual Peru Mission Dinner can go to the Chimbote Foundation website at www.chimbotefoundation.org, call 412-456-3085 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of Deacon Tucek’s other tasks is meeting with people from other dioceses who are seeking money to support their projects. He follows the directives of Bishop Zubik that such projects must be focused on caring for the poor.
“So, if it’s something to do with feeding the poor, getting health care for the poor, taking care of the poor, we’re more than willing,” Deacon Tucek said. That’s part of what makes his job so satisfying.
“I love my job because I get to collect money and give it all to the poor,” he said. “I imagine what I saw in Chimbote is what a lot of areas are like throughout the world. Just the poorest of the poor.”