October 21st is the feast day for St. Gaspar, the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. When I was considering what type of priest I wanted to be, I reflected on going to a foreign land to spread the knowledge of God. There are different kinds of priests. Some minister to a local area (diocesan priests) or others have teaching as their focus (Jesuits), but I chose to be a missionary. A missionary doesn’t always mean going to a different country or culture but an attitude of active preaching, living and learning of our faith. Missionary is just as much learning God from the people you are living with as much as bringing your idea of God to others.
This past week I got to observe God Happenings right in front of me. During the tornado watch, the kindergarten through 5th grades came to the basement of St. Michael’s Church. It was a time of confusion and fear. For some, this was the first time they felt this fear without their parents being at their side. We gathered together to put ourselves in the Lord’s care as we prayed. It helped to pray together and be God’s arms for each other as siblings calmed each other or classmates assured each other with a hug. The kids were being missionary to me as I witnessed care, concern and love overcome fear and doubt. I was pretty proud of our young ones.
At the soccer games this week, the missionary spirit came forward. We prayed for a victory and placed the players in the Lord’s hands. Even though the victory was not won on the field of soccer, I saw students and parents hanging around to console, comfort and encourage the team and coaches. This strong sense of community is nice to behold. When this spirit reaches out from a local community to a world community or even a neighboring community, that is being missionary.
Our faith is played out on many fields and locations not necessarily in a church building. This week I was reminded what it means to be a missionary. Thanks to everyone who showed the face of God to me this week.
Have a blessed week. Fr. Mark