By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.


With Advent and the new liturgical year just underway and a New Year not far off, it’s a good tine to announce some changes at the Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute.

One is big and longer term. One is small and, we hope, much shorter term. Let’s start with the smaller one first.

A small change

On Dec. 10 I begin a 3-stage regimen with my eyes: a corneal scraping to be followed, after a healing period, with cataract surgery in both eyes, one after another, sometime early in the new year. Since I’m the editor of this publication and need my eyes to do that work, my short-term prospects are a bit more uncertain than is usually the case.

Depending on how my eye heals from the first surgery, I hope to publish another Catholic Leader as scheduled on Dec. 18. If not then, ideally before Christmas. But if there are complications, that may not be possible – in which case, please accept my warmest wishes that you enjoy a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

After the New Year, my prospects remain somewhat uncertain with cataract surgery looming. My friends tell me the surgery and recovery are pieces of cake, and I hope they are right. If so, we should be able to maintain our regular twice-a-month publication schedule in January and February. But if there are complications, publication could be a bit erratic in the early part of the year.

Yes, prayers are certainly welcome. And I look forward to continuing to publish The Catholic Leader more or less as scheduled for the foreseeable future.

A larger change

A change of greater note will, by design, be with us on a more enduring basis. This year we are not conducting our annual direct mail fund drive. Usually we send out an appeal letter just ahead of Thanksgiving (of course, just like virtually every other charitable organization in the universe).

This year we didn’t – and don’t plan to going forward.

There are several reasons for this change. The most basic is that our chief administrative assistant has retired and we haven’t found the time either to replace her or to do her work ourselves. But at least as important, our benefactors have been generous in years past – leaving us with sufficient funds to continue operations for two or three more years without a new infusion of donations.

And that gets us to the biggest reason for this change. When we launched the Yeshua Institute several years ago, my wife Jane, our CFO, and I decided we would do the work until we turned 70 and then hand it off. We turned 70 in 2017 and we haven’t handed off operations yet. That’s because we don’t have the huge resources needed to go out and hire a CEO and administrative assistant and set them up in an office.

We are well-resourced to continue our work so long as we remain a fully volunteer operation that operates out of our home rent-free. But to make a huge leap to a paid professional staff is well beyond our current means. And no matter what we might do in the next few years, making that big leap is not likely to happen.

We’ve decided that rather than use up our resources trying to make that happen, we’ll use our existing resources to extend our modest, all volunteer operation over the next few years. At that point, we will – Lord willing – both be 75 years of age and very ready to close the Institute’s doors and leave the rest to God. If any additional donations for the Institute’s operations come in, we’ll use them to continue operations as long as we are able.

(This strategy does not preclude a miracle – and as I’ve noted since the start, our history is nothing but a collection of miracles. If a qualified individual or organization steps forward that would like to take over our ministry and intellectual property, we are eager to get started making those arrangements.)   

A huge new effort for Uganda

Even as we lean toward winding down operations, a completely new effort is brewing. Our board members are acutely aware that our mission in Uganda, entrusted to the able and devout hands of Javis Mugagga and his wife Gladys, needs our help more than ever.

Meanwhile, Javis and Gladys are at a very different point in the cycle of life. They’re a young couple with two small children in the very early stages of their ministry. Their new Mission House is but a year old and bustling with activity – serving priests, seminarians, college and high school students, and young Catholic entrepreneurs.

They have already touched thousands of lives – and they are poised to touch thousands more in the years and decades ahead.

As the Archbishop of Kampala attests, they are doing dramatic, essential work building up the People of God in Uganda, a heavily Catholic country on the very continent that is home to the Catholic Church’s most dramatic growth in all the world.

All of us on the Yeshua Board of Directors find ourselves in our 70s and 80s, so we’d like to do all we can to help sustain the work Javis and Gladys are doing going forward. So we’ve decided to focus our fund-raising efforts on building an endowment to provide perpetual funding for our ministry in Uganda.

You’ll be hearing more about this in the days ahead. And we hope you will be as generous with that ministry as you have been with our own over the past decade.

If you’d like to assist us in our efforts – either our ongoing ministry or our Ugandan Endowment Fund, please click here and make your online donation. If you’d like your donation to be earmarked for our mission in Uganda, simply choose the option “HONOR” below the amount of your donation and answer the question “Whom do you want to recognize” by typing in the word “UGANDA.” We’ll see that your donation goes to the endowment fund for our ministry in Uganda.

Thank you so much for your support this past decade – and for any additional support you extend in the days ahead. I can assure you that we will serve your intentions and honor your generosity with our hearts, heads, hands and habits.

Blessings and gratitude … through these seasons of Advent and Christmas, and throughout the coming New Year.


(To earmark your donation for our Ugandan Endowment Fund, select “HONOR” below the amount of your gift and type in the word “UGANDA.”)