From the Director
“What is it that keeps you going?” is a question that I frequently ask other Columban missionaries who live and minister in very difficult circumstances. The response is almost always the same, “The faith of the people.” It is indeed surprising that we Columban missionaries, who go around the globe as messengers of Jesus, find that our own faith is nurtured and sustained by the very people with whom we share the Gospel.
Columban lay missionary Sainiana Tamatawale and Fr. Kevin Mullins minister in Corpus Christi parish on the edge of the city of Juarez in Mexico. Despite the fact that they continue to live in the midst of grinding poverty and frequent violence, both these missionaries have come to cherish the deep faith, daily persistence and spontaneous joy of the Mexican people. “These people have slowly converted me!” says Fr. Kevin, with a broad and radiant smile. Then he adds, “In the face of so much uncertainty, they have taught me during these past twelve years what it means to put my trust in God.” From his expression, I sense that this unsentimental Australian is still amazed by his discovery of a hidden treasure in Juarez.
Sainiana also seems surprised and grateful for what she has discovered in her ministry: “I am so impressed by the way people care for their family and others in their community. Even though many are carrying heavy crosses, they continue to reach out to anyone who is troubled or alone. I am the only Fijian person here in this city. However, the local people are so concerned for my well-being and always look out for me. Yes, there are some problems with drugs and violence, but ninety-five percent of the people are trying their best to live a good life. It’s a pity that their stories never makes the headline news.”
Through his ministry in Juarez, Fr. Kevin has come to realize that Jesus is fulfilling His promise to reward him a hundredfold for leaving his family and possessions behind in order to witness to the Gospel: “Many times people ask me why I prefer to live here in this dangerous city when I could enjoy a comfortable lifestyle among family and friends back home in Australia. My life as a Columban missionary makes no sense to many of them. However, when I discovered the pearl of great price among the Mexican people….their faith, their hospitality and their joy….it was no sacrifice to leave everything behind.”
God has indeed rewarded Sainiana and Fr. Kevin’s service to his mission in a most unexpected place, and in very surprising ways.