Fr Noel O’Neill is a Columban Missionary working in South Korea. He has written about his ‘Emmaus’ ministry with disabled people in Far East Magazine, September-October 2022, pp10-11. Here he tells about the sacramental faith of a group of women residents during challenging times.
‘My Jesus, Come spiritually into my soul’!
Throughout the pandemic we insisted that our people living in group homes refrain from going to the parish church because they were so vulnerable. They watched the Sunday Mass on TV.
There are four very fervent middle-aged women with Down’s Syndrome living in one of Emmaus’ group homes. I am sure that Jesus smiled when He saw them go up to the front of the TV and put out their hands to receive the host as the priest was giving out Holy Communion. Perhaps it was the same kind of smile he gave the two Emmaus disciples who recognised him in the breaking of bread.
Rugby was always a penitential activity for me! However, Fr Bobby Gilmore is a Columban missionary, ordained in 1963. His story ‘My Back Tooth’ goes back to his boyhood experience of being bullied on the rugby field. Follow the link to read the whole article in ‘Far East’ magazine for December 2020, pp16-17.
What really surprised me was the acceptance of the physical aspects of the game, the tolerance and the camaraderie during and after the game.
If our coach was aware of over aggressive physical play, he immediately took the player aside and privately cautioned him without a put down or embarrassment … However, that does not mean that it did not happen when unobserved …
Fr Gilmore refers to bullied people becoming ‘prisoners of anguish’ well after they lose contact with the bully; I felt it to be an appropriate reflection for Lent because we should be looking out and speaking out when we see bullying. The work of missionaries is often described as the Church’s good news story. Learn more about what the Columban missionary family is doing to create a better world for those on the margins. Subscribe to the Far East by calling the Columban Mission Office on 01564 772 096 with your credit or debit card details, or email your subscription request to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Two articles came before my eyes on the same day. In one, an English divorce lawyer said that the main cause of marriage breakdown was lack of communication: spouses not speaking to each other.
The other article was in the Columban Fathers’ Far East magazine for September 2018. Father Willie Lee, a Fijian missionary who has worked in Peru described how he was inspired by the missionaries who ‘were always there with the grassroots people, crossing boundaries and cultures and learning another language. It gave them a feeling of belonging.
‘The sacrifices they made in their calling, in their missionary life, amazed me. If these people can leave their family, come this far … and be happy on their mission, why can’t I do this?’
Learning another language is hard work, very few Pentecost morning experiences these days; if people are to hear us speaking their own language, we must first get close to them and learn to listen.
Let us pray for ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
To read the interview with Fr Lee by Mark Bowling see the message below from the Columbans’ Katie Howard:
We are so pleased to hear that you feature the Far East magazine in your blog. Please use link below and scroll down to ‘Past Issues’ where your readers can download the September/ October 2018 edition of the Far East: