Mission Column August 14, 2019
In October, we celebrate Extraordinary Mission Month. The theme is “Baptized and Sent: the Church of Christ on Mission in the World.” The Mission Office will feature columns written by religious and clergy reflecting on their work in the Mission Lands as they too, were baptized and sent.
A Missionary’s Journey: by Father Bill Edwards
Today I write this reflection as I am also preparing a homily which tells of Jesus appointing seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. Later he would say they returned to the Lord rejoicing.
This could also be said as the story of my life with Lord. In December of 1987 at Notre Dame Church in Malone, NY, Msgr. Anthony Melia presented me with the Missionary Cross from the Diocese of Ogdensburg. I was sent on the mission to represent our Diocese in Mollendo, Peru. I was so looking forward to this experience and the opportunity to share in our mission in Peru. After language preparation in Bolivia, I arrived in Mollendo in June of 1988 to begin my mission adventure. I remember my first Sunday Mass and my difficulty communicating in Spanish. I tried to find a telephone at the end of Mass and call somebody back here in the United States but was not able to make a connection. Yes, Worldwide communication has greatly improved since 1988. The next two years were spent in Mollendo before I could return back to my native country. I continued to struggle to enter into the customs of a new country and adjust to new ways of thinking. I cannot say just when it happened, but a tremendous experience came my way. I embraced the spirit of the Peruvian people and the wonderful spirit of the people became my joy. My experiences and the beautiful people have become a part of my heart and will always be there.
During the month of August of 1993, I boarded the airplane to begin the journey home to our beautiful North Country. As I was sitting on the airplane, with a tear in my eye, on board came a beautiful Peruvian friend with a rose in her hand for me. How she managed to get permission to enter the airplane to do this, I will never know. But there she was with a big smile and a hug.
I had no idea when I left the Diocese to share in the Mission of Jesus Christ that I would be the one who received so much in return. The seventy-two returned to the Lord rejoicing and I returned back to the Diocese of Ogdensburg rejoicing in all that I had seen and done. God Bless!
Remember to pray the World Mission Rosary….
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