It was about 30 years ago, and the esteemed Columban Father Ned Kelly asked for someone to accompany him on a visit to China.
Thinking it would be a good chance to travel and learn from the China expert since Fr. Kelly held a Ph.D., I traveled to Hong Kong to pick up a visa and enter China. It was a huge disappointment to learn that the Columban China expert was unable to travel due to illness!
Tickets and bookings were all confirmed and non-refundable. Would I consider going to China alone? The foolish part of me decided to go alone.
It was an exciting adventure which eventually led back to the areas where Columbans had worked. Yet, I was poorly prepared for this journey and missed the companionship and knowledge of Fr. Ned Kelly.
Bouts of loneliness in the midst of one billion people and lack of information dogged my travels. What did I learn? Never, never to travel on mission in China alone!
Subsequently, I made many trips with other Columban Fathers and Sisters into this ancient civilization and had the honor to meet several leaders of the Catholic Church. However, the lesson from the first trip remains, and I only travel to China when I am with others and well-prepared.
A person never knows what unexpected turns may occur when on a mission journey to a new land.
Columban Fr. Tom Glennon lives and works in St. Columbans, Nebraska.