Missioner Tales September/October 2020

On Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, there was a special ceremony for the blessing of the first child of Emmanuel and his wife Angelina at their modest tent home. Emmanuel is a member of our Church choir at our U.N. camp in Malakal, South Sudan.

During the celebration, the choir sang and we prayed in thanksgiving to God for the gift of this newborn baby boy. When I asked the parents the name of their child, they told me his name is Bedjuok, which in the Shilluk language means “living for God.” What a beautiful name to give a child! It reminded me of what life is all about: to be living for God and making a difference in the lives of those around us. The celebration concluded by asking God to bless and protect Bedjuok as we look forward to the day of his baptism in our church.

Michael Bassano, M.M.

With the COVID-19 sheltering-in-place restriction, my ministries here in João Pessoa, Brazil, have moved online. Even though I miss being physically present with people, technology has opened up new possibilities.

Through a connection at my alma mater, St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., I was invited to participate in a virtual camp based in South Bend for at-risk adolescents. The camp focuses on lifting self-esteem and building healthy social skills for 10- to 13-year-olds around the world. Every day at noon for two weeks I have been offering a 20-minute session on mindfulness and yoga. Everyone including me needs to adjust to the limits of technology. On the first day after a short, silent meditation, a young girl from Trinidad and Tobago blurted out, “I couldn’t hear the teacher!”

Kathleen Bond, MKLM

Every Maryknoller dreams of going into the Superior General’s office and being told, “You are assigned to …” be it Japan or Tanzania or Chile, or wherever the missioner hoped to be posted.

Well, I got my assignment in the laundry room in the basement of the Maryknoll Seminary at Maryknoll, N.Y., in November 1965. I had just finished throwing my dirty laundry into the washing machine when Father Albert Nevins, the director of the Social Communications Department of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, came by. “Joe, you are being assigned to study journalism,” he said. “Make sure you send in your application to journalism school by Christmas.” And that was that. My missionary adventure began.

Joseph G. Healey, M.M.

The streets of Arequipa, Peru, were never made for the traffic they have supported in recent years. One day when I went to do an errand, I drove through the Plaza de Armas, where you could never find a place to park. Lo and behold, I found one! I eased our Volkswagen Beetle into the space and went on my way.

About 20 minutes later, I returned only to find a policeman putting some sort of notice on the windshield of the car.  “What’s that for?“ I asked.

He quickly answered, “You’re in a no parking zone.”

I responded, “There’s no sign here saying I can’t park in this space!”

He answered, “I didn’t put the sign out yet.”

With that, he nonchalantly went up behind one of the archways of the plaza walk, dragged out a NO PARKING sign on a roller, and placed it next to my car. Then he walked on, most likely to catch another poor offender who didn’t see an invisible sign!

When I went to pay the fine, I told the judge what had happened and he tore up my ticket.

Helen Phillips, M.M.

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Missioner Tales

Tales of life in the missions around the world.