In So Many Words
During my sixth year in the Columban seminary in Sydney, Australia, my classmates and I were asked where we would like to work after ordination. Up to that time, the Columban seminarians were not asked that question. Rather it was the custom that the new priests be sent to the country where they were most needed. So, for the first time I started to think and pray about where God wanted me to go. And very soon I felt God’s reply: “Your mission is in Japan.” I knew nothing about Japan but I felt one thing: my character or spirit was similar to that of Japan. So, I asked to go to Japan. We knew that if the place we asked for was not possible, we would be sent to another country. As regards Japan, at that time the Columbans had not sent anyone to Japan from Australia for fifteen years, but I felt deeply that I would certainly go to Japan. A few months later we were informed that myself and one classmate were appointed to Japan. In May of the following year we were ordained and left the seminary in December. As the language school in Tokyo did not start till September, I worked for six months in parishes in Melbourne.
My classmate and I arrived at Tokyo Airport on September 3, 1973. By coincidence it was my mother’s birthday. Arriving at the Columban headquarters in Tokyo, I immediately felt “at home” in Japan. I knew this was where I was supposed to be. Except for one year of study in Sydney, I have been in Japan since then, working in twelve parishes of five dioceses. Although the language is still quite difficult, I experience God always helping me. I have learnt that all our problems are God’s problems.
So, for the first time I started to think and pray about where God wanted me to go. And very soon I felt God’s reply: “Your mission is in Japan.”
Sometimes, like everyone else, I have had times of suffering, but I always experience Jesus’ joy. To me, suffering is God’s gift that helps us surrender trust in God, grow more quickly, and helps God save others. It is one of God’s graces to understand and accept that mystery. I have experienced all different kinds of suffering, and so I can help people who have the same suffering. St. Paul explained one of the purposes of suffering when he said, “God helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help those who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor 1:4)
A few months before coming to Japan, I had a tremendous experience of God’s love through the prayer called “the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Since then I have been blessed to help others experience God’s love in the same way. I always ask God for the grace to be where He wants me to be. And if it is His will, I pray that my mission will be here in Japan until I go to meet Him.
Columban Fr. Frank McKay lives and works in Japan.