In my early days as a missionary in Fiji, I worked mainly among the Hindu Indo-Fijians around the town of Labasa. I was often invited by head teachers of primary schools to explain to their students the meaning of Good Friday and Easter Monday, since both were public holidays.
When I was sixteen years old, my father was diagnosed with cancer and died ten weeks later. Soon afterwards, I dropped out of high school to manage the family farm in order to support my mother and four younger siblings.
My name is Sr. Young Mi Choi, and I live and work in the parish of Cristo Liberador, (Christ the Liberator), one of twelve parishes which comprise the district of San Juan de Lurigancho in the eastern part of Lima, Peru, in the foothills of the Andes.
It was about three in the afternoon on a Tuesday. I was seated at my desk in the parish office chatting with a young couple who had come to ask for baptism for their newborn baby.
Now that I'm home, I realized I do not have a room to call my own. My room is the bag I carry on my back every time I move from one mission to another. Right after high school I left home to pursue a childhood dream– to become a priest.
The Columban missionaries staffed the three parishes on Amakusa Island in Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan, from 1950 through 1997. The three parishes were in three different communities, each with its own history and personality.
The other day I walked out of the church after Mass. There is a group of beggars there at the gate of St. Peter’s Church. Sometimes they are hunted away by the authorities, but they tend to drift back. They have been around for years and know me quite well.
While at my age being the main celebrant at the Holy Week ceremonies can be very demanding on a worn out body, it is more than compensated by experiencing first hand the fervor and the enthusiasm of our people with special needs.
When I instructed catechumens in Japan, I spent the first year dealing with ordinary catechetical matters. After Baptism we studied St. Luke's Gospel and Acts. I chose Luke because he was a foreigner writing for foreigners, and also in Acts we have the history of the early church.