Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Going where you don't expect

Saint Anthony found himself in places he never dreamed of. A Portuguese Augustinian, he joined the Franciscans and found himself in Morocco. But he got sick and they sent him back to Portugal, but the ship didn’t make it there. Anthony arrived in Italy just in time to join the Franciscan friars at a chapter in Assisi, meeting Saint Francis. He was sent to a remote friary. But one day he was asked to preach at an ordination and astounded the Dominicans and Franciscans present. He was then sent to preach. He ended up dying in Padua.

Eleven years ago, on June 13, 2007, the feast of Saint Anthony, I found myself in Honduras, beginning my missionary adventure. Met at the airport by my friend, a Dubuque Franciscan sister, Nancy Meyerhofer, we went to Santa Rosa de Copán where I ended up staying for a few weeks in the bishop’s large residence.

I never expected to be a lay missionary in Honduras.

I never expected that I’d be ordained the diocese’s first permanent deacon on July 14, 2016, the feast of Saint Bonaventure.

I never expected to be living in the countryside.

I did come here not expecting to return to the United States. When people asked me how long I would be in Honduras, I always answered, “until God calls me somewhere else” – and I consider dying here one way of being called somewhere else.

I do not regret bring here. It has brought me great joy, even though it has not always been easy. Accompanying the poor who suffer from injustice and impoverishment is not easy.

But I feel that I have been able to see the blessing of God in all that is here. Even in the midst of poverty and injustice, in the face of violence and civil strife,, I have found the presence of God  — at the side of people who are dying with a peace-filled faith I do not have, at the celebrations of baptisms, confirmations, first communions, and marriages, and even at funerals, at the joys of receiving small gifts of fruit from the poor.

God is good.

Yesterday, I came across this quote of Saint Anthony which helps me see more clearly what I am called to be here in Honduras:

“The creator of the heavens obeys a carpenter; the God of eternal glory listens to a poor virgin. Has anyone ever witnessed anything comparable to this? Let the philosopher no longer disdain from listening to the common laborer; the wise, to the simple; the educated, to the illiterate; a child of a prince, to a peasant.”

May I always listen to the poor and learn from them. 

No comments: