I never thought that my photo would be on the front cover of a book – admittedly with fourteen others! All of us, in our 80s, are foreign missionaries still working in Japan.
Part of life while growing up was the occasional phone call I would receive from my uncle, Columban Fr. Tomás King, who is a missionary priest in Pakistan. Every conversation I had with him over the phone would include the question, “When are you coming to Pakistan, Dáire?” While I knew he was usually joking, it still made the phone call a little awkward as I was unable to tell him I had never planned on going to Pakistan to see him. I would always answer
During the celebration of the Easter Vigil last year, this verse from the Exsultet resonated deeply within me. As the Paschal Candle, signifying the risen Christ, was raised high, I imagined the radiance of His glory dissolving the steel bars encircling the prison of death.
“Ever seen a mushroom grow? asked our gardener one morning in the grounds of the Columban Center House in Peru, as he pointed out to some of us a particularly fine example. “Sprouts up overnight. Incredible.” “Hmmm, just like Lima,” observed Fr. Dermot Carthy. He should know.
“Memories Are Made of This,” go the words of the old song.
Like many other Columban missionaries before me, I have devoted many years to trying to promote harmonious relations between Christians and Muslims in the Southern Philippines, a place that has witnessed much misunderstanding and conflict between adherents of these two world religions.
Razia is a Pakistani woman of small stature and big heart. She has known the Columbans since about 1985, and from that time, has been involved in bringing education to the women and children of brick kiln workers in the villages around her home in Jiunpura, Sheikhupura, Punjab Province.
We always hear the expression “Time flies!” and indeed that is true. In 2020, I suddenly realized that I was already celebrating my 10th anniversary as Columban Lay Missionary. Truly, it is amazing how by God’s grace I made it this long, which I myself did not expect.
Recently Pope Francis said, “Kindness frees us from the cruelty that at times infects human relationships, from the anxiety that prevents us from thinking of others, from the frantic flurry of activity that forgets that others also have a right to be happy.” Wow! Three or four good effects from one simple loving habit!
Recently I came across something I had been given many years (decades!) ago. It is a copy of a letter to a priest attributed to Mother Teresa. I decided to try to find out if it was authentic and went searching on the internet. I did not find that particular letter, but I found that she certainly did a lot of writing! And the letter that I had was in her writing style. Mother Teresa had a unique style that was at once simple and powerful. “look around and see – there are so many in the world who are lonely, unwanted, who have no one to call their own – maybe in our own home.” She encourages her correspondent to “be the sunshine of God’s love to your own – for this is where our love for each other must start.”
The village of Parola, Tondo, Philippines, is a shantytown where the Pasig River and Manila Bay waters meet. It has been five years since a huge fire completely gutted it.