After every atrocity in the global city there are days of discussion and debate as to why such acts are happening. Blame is thrown around at the individuals who perpetrated the atrocity and the organizations with which they are associated. Seldom is an overall critical analysis made of the causes of terrorism and its solution. There seems to be an assumption that what is happening at a distance should stay out there where the conflict is taking place.
Before sharing some memories of my experience as a lay missionary, I would like to thank the Columban Fathers for giving me the opportunity to live one of the greatest life experiences I have ever had. After having finished my time as a lay missionary, I can assure you that nothing is by chance, that God has a plan for each one of us, that every person we know teaches us something and contributes to our spiritual growth and to the profound knowledge of God in our own life.
I used to work with the prison ministry as a seminarian, visiting the national penitentiary called Bilibid, a place for the "rejected and discarded," both young and old men and women deemed "worthless" by society, their communities and even by their own families and friends. One young man, 17 years old, approached me and told me his story. He started young into drug use and eventually stealing and got caught by the police. He could spend a minimum of a few years.
One afternoon while walking from work to the house, I met some people I did not know, and one of them was very helpful. A local deputy asked me where I was going. At first, I was surprised with the question since I constantly walked along the same route and no one stopped to ask me where I am going, despite the fact that I went to a Catholic Church, where I lived.
Though she herself readily admitted that she couldn't sing, Gloria participated in the church choir every Sunday. When teased about it, she would laugh heartily and respond that if God wasn't pleased with the voice that He had given her, then He ought to do something to fix it!
Gloria worked the night shift at a family-owned convenience store. Generally, she worked six nights a week because she and her husband were determined to have the financial resources required to educate their four teenage daughters.
Over the course of several years, many of the store's customers came to know Gloria, not just as a courteous and efficient worker but also as a friend. At first, they were charmed by her warm greeting and bright
When I lived in Pakistan I was part of the 1.6 percent who are Christians in this predominantly Muslim country which has an estimated 203 million people. In Pakistan many Muslims have hardly ever met a Christian and certainly do not know anything about the Christian faith. Nor are most of them even interested, because it is not a major concern for them.
Every new beginning entails a risk and the possibility of change. Not all of us welcome risk or change; we may be fearful or lazy, reluctant to leave our comfort zone. But, we are invited to open ourselves to the gifts and graces – and they are without number – that each day holds for us. Our hope is not in ourselves, much less in the structures of society. We rest in the Lord, hidden and unseen, fortified by His strength.
In 2005 I went to work in the Yakatamachi parish where a group of Brothers and priests, inspired by Charles de Foucald, lived simply and worked among the homeless. They went to the public parks and other places where the homeless lived, looked after them and put pressure on the local government to play their part.
I was born in County Clare, Ireland, the eldest of seven children, four girls and three boys. I have thirteen nieces and nephews. As a young man I felt that God was calling me to be a missionary, and I entered the Columban seminary training program in 1965 at Dalgan Park, County Meath, Ireland. I was one of sixteen who were ordained priests on Easter Sunday, 1973, at Dalgan Park. Four of us were appointed to South Korea soon after.