A Brief History of ROTA

Owar's Family, Chicago.JPGROTA: Reaching Out 2 Africa had its humble beginnings in 1995 in the spontaneous outreach ministry of Fr. Ron Sajdak and his involvement with African Refugees seeking shelter and safety in USA, moving into Buffalo, New York. “I didn’t even know where Sudan was on the African Continent,” Fr. Ron said. “The meeting of Owar Gally Ojwok, a young Sudanese gentleman waiting for his first job interview and later meeting his wife and his daughter changed my life forever.”

In the summer of 1997 Fr. Ron was transferred to St. Bernadette Parish in Orchard Park, NY. There he organized a group of persons interested in social justice who took the opportunity to meet monthly for a whole year in order to pray, share, and “brain storm” about how their particular suburban community may respond to the Gospel call of Justice & Peace.

It was June of 1998, after many months of prayer, meetings, and discussion, that a five-year plan of Justice Ministry for the Parish community was proposed to and accepted by the Saint Bernadette Parish Council. They had three goals at the time:

  1. Helping the parish community encounter and assist people from around the world through assistance in "Refugee Resettlement" in the Buffalo area.
  2. Developing a "Sister Parish" relationship with a Central City Catholic Church congregation.
  3. Developing a partnership with "Third World" Parish Community and/or Ministry.

By June of 2002, their three goals of the Justice & Peace Committee were accomplished.

In July of 2002, Fr. Ron Sajdak was named Pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish located in Buffalo's Central City. It was at this time of transition from one parish to another that the name, ROTA: Reaching Out 2 Africa came to be used to describe this ministry that Fr. Ron continued to accomplish. While continuing to sustain “Sister Parish” relationships, the first and third goals from the former St. Bernadette Parish Justice & Peace committee were adopted to this new ministry, the second goal was modified to: “assistance of African Clergy and Religious.” The Parish Pastoral Council of St. Martin de Porres also recognized and accepted ROTA as one of the parish outreach ministries. These three goals continue to ebb and flow in intensity as the years go on.  Currently the “hands on” work in Africa tends to take most of our time and attention and is the most challenging due to the costs, conditions and impact. Our rather limited resources seem to multiply and grow when used in the motherland. May God continue to bless our outreach and mission of ROTA: Reaching Out 2 Africa!