I am slowly consenting to this 'posting a blog without pictures' business. It frustrates me because there are stories to be told that need immages, and I do have the immages...just not the computer to process them so well. At the same time, my own experience of Wiki is not limited to a few good stories! And so, on I blog!
Some reflections on how my ministry's been shaped by one man's misfortunes: In a nutshell, Fr Doug is rather ill these days, and I've had to step up to the plate to help others in the community making sure this parish continues to function as beautifully as ever. Sometimes, this simply involves answering the phone, helping people obtain certain documents, or just practicing a ministry of presence by being in the office as much as I can to deal with the people that walk in here. However the challenge in the past week has been Communion Service. I actually did not expect this would be one of the tasks I'd be required to do in Wiki, and was a little uncomfortable around having to do it at first. However, since last week, that all changed. I presided over a few services during the week -always with a homily improvised on the spot, another task I never thought I'd be comfortable doing that I have now excelled at according to parishioners!- and was surprise to see how much I enjoyed the experience. It's prayerful (kind of like this blog!); it's a wonderful act of communion with the community;and it gives me a tremendous sense of peace to contribute something to the community, while receiving something from them at the same time.
Then end result of all these spiritual gifts that I receive everytime I celebrate a communion service is that many of the fears, trepeditations, and reluctances that I had around this aspect of the ministry have slowly faded away and have been replaced by a genuine confidence and a joy at being able to add this very beautiful layer to the ministry of presence I try to live in Wiki.
Now some of you may be thinking "Haha...so you DO have a desire to celebrate the Sacraments and are therefore more open to the option of becoming a Priest?" Ok, maybe most of you reading this blog respect my vocation enough to not say stuff like that, but I will still adress the question, since I find it's a valid point, and in a way, there is some truth to it. I am saying that this experience has taught me that I'm not as closed minded to the possibility of celebrating the Sacraments as I once thought. And I have indeed been absolutely honored that this community would trust me enough to fill in for Fr Doug during his (as of today, still ongoing) period of convalescence, and have been downright extatic about all the compliments I've received from parishioners(" Great Homilies...you'd make a good priest!!" was not my favorit, but there were countless others!).
There is however, one thing that has not changed: As I've mentioned earlier, what is essential to me is the ministry of presence. That is not to say that Priests can't live that presence -I know many do!- but I feel that not being attached to pastoral duties in this parish, has given me that freedom to be even more present to the community in a very personal way...and that is a freedom that I've always understood as being a fundemental part of my own ministry. I've tried to phrase this as diplomatically as I could...I expect those who read these blogs to be brutally honest with me and tell me I'm out of line if I am or whatever...but I stand by what I've said. I know I'd make a great priest....and I'd probably make a great husband and father too..doesn't mean I'll give up all the work I've been doing thus far just to prove that to myself or anyone else!! The only thing I have to prove is that God's love is growing in me everyday as a brother, and I like the direction this is taking. Why change it!!?
But to come back to my original point: What's been exciting is that my own concept of a brother's vocation has been growing beautifully here. And my work with the kids continues for better or worse. I don't always feel like I am in the best position to be teaching these kids about the Faith, but I always seem to connect with them in a very genuine way that makes me want to finish what I've started with great love for them -even the ones who don't pay attention to me!-. I'll even come out and say it: I can see myself doing ministry in Wiki in the future because this is a marginalized community. There is much hardship and hopelessness here, which means that there is a need for God's light and wisdom in this community, but I feel that there also much room for God's love in the hearts of many people here, even if there is a shortage of people willing to spend the time with them to help cultivate that love. I can see myself doing that and being good at it...just...not yet. For now, I give them all that I can offer. I hope it's enough...and I hope to continue to receive as much as I have both from this community, and from the Holy Spirit who tirelessly nudges me on and give me joy in this place.
On that note...praise be to God!