On Mission Sunday, 22 October, a group of us met in Dromantine and celebrated a wonderful intimate Mass to remember our Missionaries and their families and friends from the north of Ireland. As usual, Dromantine looked magnificent, the trees surrounding the lake glorious in their autumn shades and roses still growing which added superb colour.
Fr John Guiney SJ welcomed all, saying how great it was to see everyone again. He explained we were all there to remember Missionaries both living and deceased from the island of Ireland and to pray for them and to thank God for their work. We all sat together to share the Mass in the small Oratory chapel and John sat among us.
At the start of the Mass John told us of some of the many reasons he was thankful, which included a recent visit to Hong Kong to meet our men and also his visit to Cambodia. He especially mentioned the oldest living Irish Missionary Fr Joe Mallin, his love for the people he served and his wish never to leave Hong Kong. John also spoke of the smiles on the faces of the children at the school in Cambodia and their joy in being educated.
He asked us all to share what we were thankful for in the past year. Among those who spoke, Laura and Martin Burke told us how Laura has been through a very serious illness within the last year and was in a coma and close to death but somewhat miraculously recovered. She was of course very thankful to be back to health and Martin was also thankful for her recovery but had special mention also for the donor who gave him the heart he received as a transplant patient 39 years ago. Most of the rest of the group spoke of how much they were thankful for their families and friends, their health and for all they had been given in life.
John said that we were all Missionaries in our own way and that it is not necessary to travel on a plane to be a Missionary. He said there were many pictures in his head of people who are Missionaries, of Joe Mallin organising football matches for the children in Hong Kong, laughing and showing his love for the people he had worked with for most of his life.
He also spoke of Irish teacher Aoife Jenkins who is a volunteer teacher at the school in Cambodia and of the delight and excitement of the children as she showed them a microscope for the first time. He talked about Irishwoman Sr Orla Treacy, a nun in the Loreto school in Rumbek, South Sudan who has dedicated her life to educating girls so they would have a much better life and contribute to their communities and would not have instead of having to marry at such an early age. John also spoke of those who help homeless people and all of the people who supported and helped those in need at home in Ireland.
He emphasised that the relationship with Jesus and a care for others is what is important. As a farmer’s son, John intended to become a vet but during a retreat he heard a Jesuit speak and was drawn to change the world; to bring a bit of Heaven into a sometimes hellish world. His quote “I am because you are” explains how he sees his life. He reminded us to say thank you to God and to ask for forgiveness when we forget this.
During the Mass, Laura did the readings and Marie and Elenore helped with the offertory. Others read out the Prayers of the Faithful and Janice Gribben sang beautifully and encouraged all to join in. We ended the celebration with a lovely lunch and chat with our supporters, who are also our friends. It was a special day.
Author: Rosaleen Kenny, Irish Jesuit Missions. 22 October 2017