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The Foundation

Mission Teaching Foundation is the wonderful result of one community's need and desire for a better way of life and one person's clear-sighted response to their request for help.

In 1974, Father Loren Riebe, an ordained diocesan priest of Los Angeles, California, volunteered to go on mission to Chiapas, Mexico. There, he served for 21 years as pastor of the parish in Yajalón. The parish covers an area of 42 square miles (108 square kilometers), and is the spiritual center for 7,000 people living in town and 25,000 Mayans living in 54 towns and villages.  In 1980 he began to offer scholarships for junior high to a few youth of the parish catechists. He encouraged the indigenous of Yajalón to form their own non-profit civil Association called Yashalúm. He formed the Mission Teaching Foundation in the US to partner with Yashalúm to expand the education program. Fr. Loren retired from MTF in 2008.

That same year, Fr. Loren´s brother assumed responsibility as president of Mission Teaching Foundation. Gary is also a Catholic priest and a member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). He did his seminary studies in various SVD institutions in the U.S. and obtained his doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of Salamanca in Spain. Gary has served in a variety of ministries which prepare seminarians and lay people for ministry. He has spent the past 13 years as the Vice President and Academic Dean of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, the largest Roman Catholic school of theology and ministry in the country. With his background in ministerial formation and in education, Gary is a perfect fit for MTF.

Partnership with Yashalúm for Mayan education

In 1990, 120 Mayan men and women from the area joined together to form a non-profit organization under Mexican law called the Yashalúm, Civil Association. The purpose of Yashalúm (Green Country in the Tzeltal Mayan language) was to continue the scholarship program for junior high and to expand it to cover the high school and university levels.

It was soon realized that with monetary support from stateside sponsors, the self-help Yashalúm organization would be able to provide opportunities to young Mayans at a much accelerated pace. Toward this end, the Mission Teaching Foundation was started in 1997, acting in partnership with Yashalúm for the purpose of funding the education program in Chiapas. The goal of MTF is to find sponsors for each of the students to help with school supplies, uniforms and, in some cases, room and board.

With MTF’s help, the program has grown over the past 15 years to include a young men's and a young women's residence for students who have finished elementary school in their own mountain villages and now need to live closer to the town to be able to continue their education. The scholarship program currently offers assistance to 250 young Mayans. Yashalúm has also been able to offer sustainable development programs to the Mayans of the parish in Yajalón thanks to the efforts of the university students returning to the area after graduation to give a year of service back to the community.

For more information about MTF, please access the various descriptive links in the right-hand column of this page. If more information is desired, please go to the “Contact Us” link. We will gladly answer any questions you may have.

Achievements

When Fr. Loren’s mission led him to Chiapas, Mexico in 1974 to serve as pastor of the parish in Yajalón, he quickly realized that education of its youth was the answer to a better life for the entire Mayan community. Therefore, in 1990, even though he had very limited funds available to him at the time, he helped the indigenous non-profit association in Yajalón, Yashalúm de Santiago Apostól, initiate an education program. Over the years, due mostly to Fr. Loren’s untiring pursuit of inspiring compassion and charitable giving, the program has continued to expand with the help of the many individuals and groups who believe in the mission of providing the Mayan indigenous with the tools needed to help themselves. morelink

Facts and Figures

Mission Teaching Foundation has provided an overview of the most recent years expenses. The program is primarily funded by sponsorships, church appeals, donations, and handicrafts. Below is an overview of the funds for the following years: 2015, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008. morelink

MTF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a tax exempt status from the IRS

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