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We wish peace, joy and love to you and your family during this coming Christmas season and throughout the New Year.
In the whirlwind of the holidays, I like to take a quiet moment and reflect on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Truly, His birth was the most joyful news ever announced! Much like Mary and Joseph journeyed to a foreign land, Columban missionaries leave their homes, families, friends and jobs to work with some of the most economically poor people in the world. And, they make this journey with joy – joy in a relationship with Jesus Christ, joy in answering their baptismal call to mission.
Originally from Ireland, Columban Fr. Sean Coyle is now living and working in the Philippines. His work with the girls at the Holy Family Home inspires me on a daily basis. The Holy Family Home houses between 40 and 50 girls, some as young as four, some in their early 20s, at any given time. Most of the girls have been abused, though some come simply from a background of poverty. Fr. Sean recently wrote to me about Holy Family Home:
At first I used to visit once or twice a month, usually on a Sunday afternoon, sometimes bringing treats from a doughnut store. Then I found myself celebrating Mass fairly regularly until finally I did so almost every Sunday and on special occasions. I often hear confessions, and some of the girls will remind me to do this.
I hardly ever ask a girl about her situation. They get professional care for that. Sometimes one of them tells me that she has a court hearing coming up and asks me to pray for her. I get angry when I learn that a hearing has been postponed, as so often happens, because one or other lawyer or the judge hasn’t turned up. I see this as a continuation of the abuse.
The girls know that I’m aware of their background as I often refer to it in my homilies. Even more often, I let them know how I see them welcoming a new girl and helping her through her initial difficulties. I’m aware too that for some, when they eventually leave Holy Family Home, it’s not a happily ever after!” But I see so many who have been healed, who have learned to forgive, who have lived in a loving environment, who have been enabled to go to school when otherwise they would never have the chance.
When Columban Fr. Michael Sinnott was kidnapped in 2009, I asked the girls to pray especially for him. They prayed their hearts out and jumped with joy when they heard of his release. One of them came over to me and said, “We are the miracle girls!” Indeed they are miracle girls. The miracle girls have brought great joy into my life, the kind of joy I imagine a father or grandfather has.
Thanks to you and others like you, this Christmas in the Philippines and in all countries where Columban missionaries serve, Christ will be born again on hundreds of altars, sometimes in small chapels as poor and barren as the stable of Bethlehem. Any gift that you could send at this time, large or small, will be your birthday gift to Christ in loving gratitude for His gift to you of His own life.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15
And thanks to you for your gift and for all you do for Columban missionaries worldwide. We will keep you and all of your intentions in our prayers and Masses this Christmas season. May God bless you abundantly and fill your heart and home with the joy of His loving presence.
Click here to donate to the Miracle Girls Project.