Vienna (Agenzia Fides) - For the fourth time in a row, the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Austria awarded the bronze donkey “EMIL” last Friday evening to missionary personalities during the annual Austria On Mission Award.
Missio Austria has been awarding a bronze donkey “Emil” designed by the artist monk Father Raphael Statt every year in four categories to missionary personalities who have made an exemplary commitment to world mission or are committed to missionary work.
The donkey refers to the biblical symbolism according to which Jesus Christ consciously chose a humble beast of burden for his entry into Jerusalem. “In the countries of the South, the donkey is an animal that goes unnoticed and carries heavy burdens for people. This year's award winners work hard like donkeys, do a lot of good for society and their fellow human beings, but often go unnoticed. With the EMIL awards we are putting these heroes of charity in the spotlight,” says Missio National Director Father Karl Wallner. There are four categories awarded: Missionaries from Austria; Missionaries in Austria; Mission Star; Hero of Charity. This year the “Emil” in the “Missionary from Austria” category goes to Father Leopold Kropfreiter, SJM. Shortly after his ordination in 2008, PMS director in Khazakhstan and today at he head of one of the most important local schools. Father Kropfreiter is committed to ensuring a better future for young people through a solid education and helping the poorest families in his mission area in the north of the country.
This year, the couple Alexa and Christof Gaspari from Maria Enzersdorf were honored in the “Missionary in Austria” category for the missionary magazine “Vision2000”. Since 1988 they have published the bimonthly missionary magazine "Vision2000", which reaches tens of thousands of people in more than 30 countries. They were also among those who helped found Radio Maria Austria in 1998.
The “Mission Star” 2023 this year is awarded to the Sacred Heart Schools, which has been supporting a primary school in Jinja, Uganda for 17 years. Through the proceeds from flea markets, cookie buffets or other class projects, the students of the Sacred Heart Schools enable the children in Uganda to attend school and have a warm meal per day. The renovation of school rooms and general building expansion were also guaranteed thanks to the commitment of the Austrian students in Uganda. This year the “Emil” in the “Hero of Charity” category goes to the young social worker Rishma Patra from Calcutta, India. In the slums of Calcutta, the 25-year-old works with her colleagues from the local Caritas “Seva Kendra” to help the poorest of the poor. Rishma Patra is passionate about supporting local people to help them build a life of dignity. Specifically, this means providing courses for women so that they can receive training and learn the basics of hygiene. But health care for slum residents and the establishment of schools for poor children in the slum are also central concerns for them.
The “Austria On Mission” evening took place in the presence of the Councilor of the Nunciature in Austria, Msgr. Amaury Medina Blanco, the auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Msgr. Stefan Turnovszky, Vicar General and the bishop of the Diocese of St. Pölten, Msgr. Christoph Weiss and Msgr. Klaus Küng, and Mario Reichel, Blitzblank CEO and long-time supporter of the initiative.
The children and young people from the "KISI-God's Sing Kids" ensemble provided the musical accompaniment for the evening. They thrilled audiences with pieces from the family musical “Pauline – Courage Changes the World,” which has already toured throughout Austria this year. The musical shows excerpts from the eventful life of the blessed Missio foundress, Pauline Marie Jaricot. (see Fides, 28/9/2023). (EG) (Agenzia Fides, 7/11/2023)