Why Rock Island parishioners recently walked 8,385 miles

Photo Caption: Among those taking part in the check presentation at St. Pius X in Rock Island were, from left, Bishop George Lungu of Chipata, Zambia; Mary Nilas, parish nurse; and Father Michael Schaab, pastor.

ROCK ISLAND — Villagers in Kalapuka, Zambia, must walk for two miles several times each day to get the water they need. It comes from a source they must share with the livestock, and they have been plagued by waterborne diseases and deaths.

By logging a few miles of their own, members of St. Pius X Parish here are hoping to change that.

They were able to raise the $6,000 needed to build a new well in Kalapuka by “Walking for WELLness.” Sponsored by the St. Pius X Wellness Committee, the program started last October and was intended to “Challenge Ourselves and Change the World.”

The goal was to walk 8,800 miles — the distance between Rock Island and the Zambian village — and seek pledges and donations for each mile. While they fell 414 miles short, they met their fundraising goal last month and were able to present a check to Father Mark Mwanza on Oct. 20.

A priest of the Diocese of Chipata, Zambia, Father Mwanza is from Kalapuka. He is in residence at St. Pius X while he completes his studies in chemistry and education at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and will serve as a teacher when he returns to his home diocese.

The check presentation coincided with a visit from Bishop George Lungu of the Diocese of Chipata, who was the special guest at a small reception hosted by Father Michael Schaab, pastor, and a group of “Walking for WELLness” participants.

Parish nurse Mary Milas said that even though parishioners didn’t meet their goal for mileage, “they will have succeeded in ‘changing the world’ in Kalapuka once the well is completed and they reaped the whole (body, mind, spirit) benefits of the 8,385.6 miles they walked in faith.”

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