I usually spend my summer break walking the sands and enjoying the beach but this time around I decided to walk the hills of Don Victoriano Chiongbian, a town of Misamis Occidental, the Philippines, and enjoy the cool river waters of Salug.
As part of the on-going formation and education of Columban lay missionaries, I was privileged to take a six-month course on facilitating retreats for young people. The course has given me an in-depth understanding on the psyche and culture of young people in this modern time.
It was a great joy for me to be invited, two years ago, to return to Santiago, Chile, to celebrate 40 years of the Columban Sisters' mission in that beautiful country.
As a teenager I browsed whatever reading materials were left around my home: Sunday newspapers that my father enjoyed; novels that my older brother and sisters considered worthwhile; and religious magazines that my mother read at the end of her busy days.
Fifty years ago I was pastor of an "old Christian" community on Amakusa Island in the far south of Japan. By "old Christian" I mean that a Jesuit missionary, Fr. Luis Almeida, founded the parish in 1566. Then the Tokugawa daimyo government expelled or executed all missionaries.
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.
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.
I still have vivid memories of my first awakening in Lima, Peru, on June 24, 1971. The population all around our mission was made up of thousands of Peruvians from the highlands, who had ventured to the coastal cities looking for a better life for their children.
In the history of human life suffering is what every person will encounter in their lifetime. Not even Jesus, the Son of God, was spared from pain as He too had to suffer to fulfill the plan of the Father for His people.