August 7, 2009

Missions bazaar at Fatima Retreat House features fair-trade artwork

Father Todd Goodson, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, buys baked goods on Aug. 1 during the fourth annual “Missions Helping Missions Bazaar” at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

Father Todd Goodson, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, buys baked goods on Aug. 1 during the fourth annual “Missions Helping Missions Bazaar” at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

By Mary Ann Wyand

A midsummer opportunity to share faith, food and fellowship as well as help poor people in developing countries attracted a good-sized crowd on Aug. 1 to Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis.

The archdiocesan retreat house’s fourth annual international “Missions Helping Missions Bazaar” featured vendors who sell fair-trade priced artwork made by skilled artists in Caribbean, Central and South American, and African countries.

Connie Tellman of Indianapolis, representing Global Gifts in Indianapolis and Bloomington, said “buying handcrafted items from women and men in developing countries helps to provide them with dignity” as well as much-needed money.

Tellman said the artists “can be proud of their work and proud of trying to provide for their families, of trying to provide food and education for their children.”

Purchasing artwork, jewelry, pottery and clothing from talented artisans in poor countries feels good, she said, because it helps someone in need.

“The artwork [made in developing countries] is very individual,” Tellman said. “The people are very creative because they have to use what they have available, whether it’s nuts from trees or stones or paper to make recycled pots and jewelry. It’s very unique and colorful.”

She said artwork from more than 30 countries is for sale at two Global Gifts stores in Indianapolis and a new shop opening in Bloomington this month.

“It’s nice to share the mission of what the store does [at the bazaar] and to introduce people to the idea of fair trade,” she said. “Some people have never heard of it, and they’re not familiar with Global Gifts. Even if they don’t purchase something here, they may come to the store and maybe have a broader awareness of the people that are less fortunate than we are.”

St. Thomas Aquinas parishioner Joseph Zelenka of Indianapolis has made about 50 ministry trips to Haiti since 1990 with the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas to visit the people of St. Jean Marie Parish in Belle Riviere, a mountainous area of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

“The relationship between the two parishes has really been a blessed one,” Zelenka said. “For us here at St. Thomas, we’ve learned so much about the poorest of God’s poor. And for [the people of] St. Jean Marie Parish in the mountains of Belle Riviere, they have come to believe that there is a community here that loves them, prays for them and supports them in ways that are just unbelievable.”

Zelenka was selling wooden bowls handcrafted by artists in Haiti as well as crèches and intricate metalwork made from pieces of demolished cars.

“They find a [car] fender and pound it out,” he explained. “They’re very creative with very few materials to work with. The Haitians are a people who live on hope. They’re very artistic, and they’re very thorough in what they do. I’m always amazed when I go to Haiti to watch the women, especially at the market, selling whatever they can sell. They’re so patient. They will sit in the hot sun all day long hoping that they eke out enough money so they can feed their family for that day. They’re an amazing culture. Despite the poverty, they have great faith in God and great faith in each other, and somehow they manage to live.”

Sandy Pasotti, the guest services manager at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House, said the mission bazaar, Mass and hog roast were wonderful ways to welcome people to the archdiocesan retreat house.

“It was a beautiful day,” she said. “Our ‘Missions Helping Missions Bazaar’ was started as a community service event for vendors whose profits go to ministries and missions both locally and globally, all over the country and all over the world, especially to people in developing countries.”

Pasotti said families enjoyed the picnic and children had fun with their parents during a scavenger hunt on the scenic, wooded grounds.

“We wanted to have another event that would gather community and also raise awareness of Fatima’s programs,” she said. “We have several fall programs coming up. Our ‘Morning for Moms’ with Father Jim Farrell, which has been a successful retreat day for us, is Oct. 13.

“Father Michael McKinney, the pastor of All Saints Parish in Logansport, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, is coming back on Sept. 29 to do a reflection day for us on ‘What You Are Missing in Your Spiritual Life and How to Get It,’ which will help everybody,” Pasotti said. “He’s a very popular presenter. Father William Munshower, who now lives at the retreat house, will present our annual reflection day on the Psalms on Nov. 16. And we will continue our silent, non-guided reflection days this fall, which have been very fruitful.”

As director of the archdiocesan retreat house, Father Farrell said he is always looking for ways to evangelize and introduce new people to Fatima’s retreat ministry.

“There were people here who said they had often passed by and never came up the driveway, but always wanted to do that,” he said. “So this event really offered an opportunity to welcome folks who are curious about Fatima Retreat House, and what is up here on the hill and what we do. We’re very happy about this opportunity to further spread the message of Fatima’s ministry of spiritual renewal and retreats, and we’re happy with the good that we have accomplished for many charities through the ‘Missions Helping Missions Bazaar.’ As a day of service and fellowship, it served many purposes and I think we got a home run in every aspect of it.”

(For information about Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House programs, call 317-545-7681 or log on to

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