The summer mission appeals starts in June and finish by the end of August. In 2016, I felt so blessed that everyone was so accommodating and flexible in terms of the parish visiting schedule.
As early as April, I started in California, and it’s always a plus when the pastors are present in the parish to welcome the visiting missionary. Sometime in May, on my way to Bakersfield, I took the bus from Los Angeles; it was foggy and overcast. It was a good decision not to drive as I usually do, and this provided time for me to rest and to reflect at the same time.
When I arrived at the parish, I was scheduled to have two Masses in English and Spanish. I met the English speaking visiting Jesuits from the upper state of New York while the other one was a retired priest. The following day, I met the pastor for the second Mass. I had only a few minutes with him at the sacristy before the start of the Mass.
He was so graceful as he introduced me after the Gospel. As I finished my talk, I felt there was something wrong with the priest. Little did we imagine, that after praying the Our Father, he invited us for the second time to pray the Our Father. I raised my hands on top of my voice to help Father fearing that he had a stroke.
The parishioners were at standstill; everyone was shocked. We called 911, and the other priest continued the Mass. After my last evening Mass that day, I asked a family to accompany me to visit the priest who was in the hospital. The mother and her children went with me to visit the priest.
Later one of the daughters handed me a piece of paper with a drawing on it. I was so touched by the gifts and the compassion of this little girl who can share her gifts of faith and love to the priest and visiting missionary.
Being with people in all walks of life is a gift from God that we receive when we share our faith and the loving care of God in our lives.
Sr. Virgie Mozo now lives and works in the Philippines.