Following the Missionary Call, Hand in Hand - Maggie Banga

Mark began attending the Newman Centre when he moved to the city in 2001. He was a member of the enthusiastic and tireless team that helped bring Pope John Paul II and the World Youth Day to Toronto (2002). He and I met the following year, chopping potatoes across from one another at St Francis Table, a Newman outreach ministry. We became friends, continued our regular Tuesday commitment at St Francis Table and a year later began dating. In addition to Sunday Mass, we participated regularly in retreats, lectures, celebrations and spiritual direction offered through the Newman Centre. Those activities and the friendships we formed at Newman encouraged us in our faith journey and vocation discernment. In 2007,
Mark proposed to me during a coffee house at the Newman Centre and we were married at St Thomas Aquinas Chapel on July 20 of the same year. 
 
During the first months of our marriage, we felt God calling us to live mission more deeply, specifically cross culturally as a young couple. We discerned this call for one year. Then giving our “Yes”, we left our life in Toronto in 2009, joined the Comboni Lay Missionaries and were commissioned to serve in Ethiopia. St Daniel Comboni said “a missionary life is a combination of grief, enjoyment, exhaustion and hope, suffering and consolation….”. 
 
We experienced all of this, and at times simultaneously. We served 6.5 years in Ethiopia, sharing daily life with the poor and Ethiopia became home for us. We were no longer a couple but had become a family. God blessed us with three children,
Emebet, Isayas and Teibe (now 6, 5 and 4 years old) whom we legally adopted and welcomed into our family forever. Ethiopia truly became our “home” and our desire was to remain there, but we began to feel God calling us again - this
time to deepen our missionary work by focusing on the pastoral need of marriage and the family. It became clear that to minister effectively in this area, we needed a deeper formation. We gave again our “Yes” and you find us now in the capital of
the USA.
 
Mark is completing his Master’s degree in Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Washington. He will graduate this spring. I am being formed as a catechist for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd children faith formation program. In each chapter of our missionary life, we have sought to love God, love our neighbour and share our encounter with Jesus Christ with others. Our goal has been to live in the present moment, building
intentional relations with others. For us mission is: striving to say in both the big and small things “God, Your will be done” and to help others to do the same. We are in active prayerful discernment of our next step and pray to be able to give once again in joyful surrender our “Yes” to whatever is asked of us. 
 
Maggie Banga and her husband Mark, Newman alumni, seen below with their three children. 
 
 
 

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