From the Director
Life begins at forty! That's what Fr. Tony Coney was about to discover as his plane touched down in Lima. As a newly ordained Columban priest he had said goodbye to his family and friends in Ireland and had traveled to Peru to begin his mission there on his fortieth birthday.
As a dedicated altar boy, this was a way of life Tony might have imagined for himself when he was ten years old, but by the time he had turned twenty, it no longer seemed even a remote possibility. By then, he had given up all religious practice, had no regular employment due to his failure to complete his high school education, and was drinking heavily. During the next several years his life continued on a downward spiral and he felt increasingly powerless to apply the brakes.
Then, one night Tony had a mysterious dream in which he was given a taste of a life that was peaceful and hopeful. Soon afterwards, he went along to a rehabilitation center to seek help to overcome his alcohol addiction. This meant cutting ties with many of his friends and avoiding the places where they used to hang out together. It also meant searching for a new purpose and direction, so he returned to the classroom in order to complete his high school education. During the following three years, step by step, and with the help and support of others, Tony regained control over his life.
There he found God waiting for him with open and forgiving arms.
One day he happened to pass by the church where he had been baptized and served as an altar boy. Even though he had not been to church for more than a decade, he was suddenly seized by a strong urge to go inside. There he found God waiting for him with open and forgiving arms. During the following months as he grew in awareness of God's incredible love for him, he also felt a desire to surrender everything to Him in return. A short time later he applied to enter the seminary to become a Columban missionary priest. To his astonishment, he was accepted.
Eight years later, after his ordination Fr. Tony was sent on mission to Peru. There, he has spent more than twenty years as a Columban priest ministering among the poor. For Fr. Tony, "Life is a series of new beginnings. One can set out on a new path at twenty or forty or eighty years...but why not set out today?"