I recently began my new ministry in Our Lady of Remedies parish in Malate, Manila, Philippines. Although I am familiar with this parish, having visited it on many occasions, my feelings are different now that it has become the area for my mission. People who I used to greet casually before, now I ask how they are doing, and the places I used to pass by without a second thought before are now pause for a closer look. This is my first time to work in a Columban parish, and I am looking forward to it.
I went to the Adoration chapel not long after I arrived in Malate. I saw many people coming and going to the chapel for just a short period of time. For me, the Adoration chapel is a place to visit on purpose, to pray faithfully. However, the people who would come to the adoration chapel seemed to be familiar with this as if it is part of their normal routine and were comfortable with it.
In retrospect, the first time I got to know anything about an Adoration Chapel was as a middle school student in Korea when one was built in my parish for the first time. I was reminded repeatedly about the sanctity of this place and the proper etiquette to follow. A notice of the dress code, and what dress should be avoided when visiting the Adoration chapel was posted on the board in the parish. There were also strict visiting hours for security reasons. Perhaps I craved this in my memory without realizing it, and I thought it was important to keep it. That’s why the people I met that day at the Adoration chapel in Malate were quite a novelty to me, not only due to their familiarity, but also due to their natural appearance.
They met God in their own natural way during the course of their daily life regardless of social status, appearance, careers, and so on. I know that the Lord does not see our outer appearance but rather our inner selves. As simple and obvious as it may be, I often overlook it. In addition, sometimes I used to be negligent in my prayer life with the excuse of being busy. I have learned, however, from the people I have met in my ministry by observing their faith, which is a natural part of their everyday life that they consider serving God as their mission, they pray wherever they are (they do not separate the places for prayer and their daily life). Their devotion inspires me. By breaking perceptions inside me one by one through various experiences, I have become a little freer and more flexible since I became a missionary. Thankfully, I have been given opportunities to learn and grow. I look forward to seeing what is waiting for me in my new ministry. I believe it will be an inspiring and meaningful journey with good people.
My Lord, open my heart, Amen.
Kim Sunhee is a Columban lay missionary from Korea assigned to the Philippines since 2011.