Fr. Sajo Jacob (second from left) is heavily involved in the Relighting Lives Foundation. Here he is at the 2023 Scholarship Awards night. Photo from Fr. Sajo Jacob

Foundation shares ‘universal spirit of caring’

  • March 1, 2024

Fr. Sajo Jacob of St. Pius X Parish in Calgary said the Relighting Lives Foundation he supports is passionate about “empowering youth and outreach to the poorest of the poor.”

Contributions to the non-profit organization, formerly the Path to Peace Foundation, support families struggling to address their basic needs, equipping families to become self-sufficient “through education and proper training by NGOs,” according to its website. 

The charity also relights lives by providing scholarships to international students pursuing their professional and vocational dreams, students like Akhil John, an immigrant from India. John, who is studying for a supply chain management degree from George Brown College in Toronto, said the scholarship he received last fall was highly impactful. 

“It was very helpful for me because initially I was struggling due to lack of funds,” said John. “The rent and cost of groceries are very high. This scholarship is helping me to pursue my dream.”

The 23-year-old’s scholarship profile suggests that just as the foundation has transformed his life, he intends to pay forward this spirit of generosity, leaving an uplifting imprint on the world through his professional talents. He wrote: “My aspirations are grounded in a commitment to making a positive impact, extending beyond the confines of my chosen career path.”

It is safe to state this declaration from John is music to the ears of Jacob. The pastor is driven to recruit young adults to the Relighting Lives Foundation. He said young leaders want to become involved because this charity exemplifies cherished Catholic values, particularly a “universal spirit of caring.” 

“Some of the children we sponsor are not connected with any faith, but with that universality of care, it does not matter because they are human beings,” said Jacob. “That universal love, mercy, care and the celebration of humanity and divinity, which are expressed in the charitable actions of the (foundation).”

Roman Stambene, 26, is one of the young adults Jacob has encouraged to become involved. He heard about the foundation’s mission during a meeting of St. Pius X’s young adult group, which Stambene leads. He said this foundation offers a pathway to answering the call of Ephesians 2:10,: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

“It is so easy to get lost as a young person, where it’s like ‘I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what I’m doing. Am I doing the best with what He has given me?’ ” Stambene said. “There is the parable where the person with one talent buries it. It is easy to be afraid of being that person.

“I found that being (at the foundation) is that the way you serve when you open yourself to a community is that God opens these doors for you.”

He identifies one of his roles as helping inspire other youth to participate in Relighting Lives. The potential for effective campus outreach is there, considering St. Pius X is only a five-minute walk to the University of Calgary.  

As for Jacob, he felt the call to serve an organization like Relighting Lives because of his deep respect and admiration for Mother Teresa, whom he met twice.

“These two occasions really touched me,” said Jacob. “The true face of the Church is sharing and caring with other people. It made a huge impact on my priestly life. I try to see the world through the eyes of the poor. Mother Teresa taught me many things, but the most important lesson was how to reach out to the poorest of the poor like she did.”

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