Now out of Africa, this returned missioners’ family is still committed to mission and service
By Debbie Northern
After serving seven years with Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Mombasa, Kenya, Curt and Anita Klueg and their daughters, Rehema and Bethany, returned to the United States in 2015. The family has continued their call to mission and service in Detroit.
In Kenya, Anita prepared children and adults for the sacraments at a local parish, while also working with the HOPE (Helping Orphans Pursue Education) project that helps orphans and other children from families affected by HIV/AIDS receive education and other services. Curt created a prison ministry that helped prisoners and their families.
Today Curt is a high school campus minister and Anita is director of university ministry at the University of Detroit Mercy. Anita is also a member of the Board of Directors of Maryknoll Lay Missioners.
“Being a family in mission was everything to me,” says Curt, “I so deeply loved raising children in mission, and think it was the greatest gift we could have ever given them. I most miss raising children in mission as well as our daily encounters with widows, orphans and prisoners. I felt so deeply that I was living my call as a Catholic Christian. I pray that I carry this passion for those on the margins to my current work in the faith formation of others.”
Anita adds, “I truly am grateful for the opportunity to have been in mission with our family. The children not only were exposed to another language and culture, but also to the harsh realities that many people around the world face due to sickness, poverty and unjust circumstances. I think their generous spirits and kindness are not just a reflection of what we try to teach them in our family but due to what they experienced in mission.”
Rehema and Bethany, who were born in Kenya, say that what they remember most are the Saturdays tutoring kids from the HOPE project. The girls practiced reading and learning activities with the others and then played games and ate snacks together. Bethany misses the Indian Ocean and both girls miss their friends from Mombasa.
In Mombasa, Kenya, Anita was able to form friendships with people of other faiths, such as Muslims, Hindus and African traditionalists. The couple chose to live in Detroit because of its cultural and ethnic diversity, and Anita continues to pursue interfaith encounters through her job with the University of Detroit, which has a large population of Muslim students.
For Anita, “A key learning from mission has been learning the realities and stories of so many people around the world and constantly trying to figure out how I bridge those experiences with how we live in the U.S.”
Debbie Northern is the Always A Missioner manager for Maryknoll Lay Missioners.