Your prayer has been heard. Luke 1:13
Those who read this column know that I went through a bit of disappointment last fall as my retirement plans were evolving. A major part fell apart.
I wrote that I believed that when plan A falls apart, it just means that God has a plan B that he is about to reveal that could be even better. Well, God’s plan B for me just may have been revealed. Indeed, we should be careful what we pray for because God is certainly capable of delivering some big surprises.
This last Holy Week, I went down to the Caribbean island countries of Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. I helped Bishop Jason Gordon with a prayer day for his priests prior to the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Kingstown on St. Vincent. That was followed by services that I led on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday at two parishes in the center of the island.
Before you think white sandy beaches and beautiful hotels, think poverty, heat, bad roads and foreign mission work. I am still reeling from one of the most challenging Holy Weeks I have ever been through.
The people were very poor, the water was risky, the roads were a mess and the whole island was lacking in beaches and
gorgeous hotels. However, the people were friendly; they welcomed me with open arms and they can put Catholics in this country to shame when it comes to singing in church.
I am going back. Bishop Gordon, himself a native of the island country of Trinidad, wants me to come back two or three times a year, mainly to do some ongoing formation for his handful of priests and deacons, as well as to help in parishes whenever possible. He wants me to do some of these things in both of his dioceses — Bridgetown (Barbados) and Kingstown (St. Vincent and the Grenadines).
Bishop Gordon is the only bishop in the world who is bishop of two dioceses in two different countries. He flies back and forth regularly and his priests and deacons catch boats routinely from one island to the next in a chain of islands as they
serve the small far-flung mission communities.
It’s tough, lonely, uncomfortable and demanding work. One has to have the heart of a missionary and a huge amount of God’s grace to serve down there.
I had no idea this opportunity would present itself. I don’t know how fast I can get involved, but I am certainly willing to explore these possibilities. I started out in the home missions of our diocese. Now it looks like I could end up, part of the year at least, working in the foreign missions. One toe at a time, I am willing to take the plunge.
I asked God for something “new and interesting” in my retirement. Should we be careful what we pray for? It seems so!