My Days Are Over

Fr. Leo Donnelly
June 3, 2013

My days are over, but not quite finished. Before they are, I would like to thank all Columban benefactors. I have known an interesting life, and it is thanks to you generous people. As Columbans we are well aware that your support hasn´t been out of investment profits etc., but mostly out of salaries and pensions, which makes it all the more remarkable.

In Lima this year we are celebrating 60 years of Columban presence. Every day of those 60 years speaks of you good people. Almost 200 priests, Columbans and diocesan volunteer associates have spent at least six years of their lives here with us. Over one third of this number have been diocesan volunteer associates. Together we have established, nurtured, developed and then handed over to the three dioceses some twenty parishes. Each of these implies presbyteries, churches, halls and schools and medical posts in some, and also includes other projects in a few.

We are presently manning five parishes in Lima and three in the Andes. All of this in the poorest of poor areas, which just adds emphasis to the extent of what your support has meant. On top of all May 2013 19 of this you are looking at our own maintenance, mobility, health care and thousands upon thousands of dollars in social welfare to the more needy. You rightly deserve to take a bow.

I know of scores of working class people and pensioners, the everyday ordinary people who have made all of this possible. The parallel that comes to mind is the “widow’s mite,” and just today as I write I was told of a lady with three adopted children, all three with health problems, who has sent one of our men $50 for his project with invalided adults.

We are all conscious of our presence on mission being facilitated by the people who support us. Our relatives, our friends, our fellow Catholics acting through their support are really lay missionaries.

My own father was more than a bit anti-clerical and once, in anger, said to me, “Son, it is just as well you are going to be a priest, because boy, if you had to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, you´d (bloody ) starve to death.” That my fellow Columbans, me and the people we serve haven´t starved, but thrived, is thanks to you as our partners in mission.

“I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brother of mine, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Our presence on mission is your presence. I can only say many thanks and blessings upon you and yours, as we have been blessed by your presence.

We have had fascinating lives as missionaries and boast perhaps of “some miserable moments, but never a dull one.” I know that I am not writing simply as “Mrs. D´s little boy, Leo,” but also in the name of all of those men and women with whom I have shared my life as a pastoral priest. Sincerely then, may Abba bless you profoundly.

Originally seen in Columban Mission Magazine.