It is part of our daily morning exercise routine for myself and my fellow lay missionary, Lenette Toledo, to pass by the busiest market in Bhamo. Bhamo is a city in the Kachin State in the northernmost part of Myanmar (formerly Burma).
The late art critic Sr.
Sharing my vocation story stirs up mixed feelings within me. On the one hand I think of a vocation as something personal and sacred, but I remember that such stories shared by priests, the religious, and lay people have helped me throughout my faith journey.
“Hope springs eternal” goes the phrase, even in the saddest of situations, and surely none can be sadder than the case of young Andrea Alvarez.
There are many days when I am at home in the tribal villages in Sindh, Pakistan.
Our mission partners and benefactors are very essential in the day-to-day life of the missionaries. They play a significant role in helping the Society proclaim the good news to the marginalized and the poor in the form of prayer, financial support or words of encouragement.
Every Saturday afternoon, Fr. Paul drove off faithfully in the car by himself. For several years, all I knew was that he was heading to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting somewhere in the local area. There was nothing more that he said, or that I said, about this weekly outing.
It is almost impossible to describe the appreciation and love that Catholic Kachins in Myanmar have for Columban missionaries, and at times, it can be almost embarrassing.
Myanmar is far behind in terms of education, compared to other countries, having been shut off from the outside world for 50 years by the military junta. Now, they are struggling to catch up with the rest of the world. I feel that the education system here can be so oppressive.
I had just arrived in the Philippines shortly after ordination. It was 1973 and something unprecedented was happening back home in Ireland. Limerick had made it to the all Ireland hurling final!
October with its blue skies and bright leaves is a time for appreciating the beauty of the earth. Appropriately, October 4 is the feast day of St. Francis.
For eight centuries, St. Francis has had a great influence on Christian spirituality and even on Western culture. But our present century with the tension between economic development and care for the planet, would benefit from still more of St. Francis’ wisdom. A genuine prophet, St. Francis was not fooled by the appearance of things but understood truly important things at a deep level. I think this makes his teachings particularly relevant for our times.
For example, consider if you will this quotation from St. Francis, “If you have people who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have those who will deal likewise with their fellow human beings.”
Many centuries after St. Francis made that observation, psychologists have arrived at the same conclusion. People to whom we now would give a diagnostic label as “sociopaths” display a lack of guilt when they make another living being suffer, whether a person or an animal. They appear to have little ability to take responsibility for their actions and especially little inclination or ability to imagine the suffering of the victim of their cruelty. I wonder if we who are heedlessly using up the earth’s resources and endangering other creatures are not, in some manner, unwilling or unable to take responsibility for the mess we are making.
In the Gospels, there are several accounts of feeding a large crowd from scant supplies. These accounts may be versions of one memorable event for which several accounts have survived.