A year ago, I was gearing up for my first Easter away from my family as I joined the Columban Missionaries Invitation to Mission programme travelling to the Philippines. This was part of my year as the Faith in Action Volunteer, a year which has undoubtedly changed the way I see the world and my place in it. In preparing for Invitation to Mission there is much emphasis on the point of the programme being a learning experience and one that should continue to have an impact and unravel its meaning beyond the experience itself. In other words it is an ‘opportunity for conversion’.
The Pope’s words from earlier this week strike me as I am asked to reflect upon this experience of Invitation to Mission a year on and to consider what this memory means for me now.
Community and hospitality were at the heart of the brief time I spent in the Philippines. I had the amazing opportunity to stay with a family in the Columban parish in Malate during Holy Week. This immersion into community life in preparing for the huge party of the Resurrection of Jesus was a real privilege.
On my return, much of my reflecting was about where I fitted into the places I’d been. Many of the Columban projects we visited were supporting really vulnerable people, and I had a certain amount of uneasiness having been a spectator with not a lot to offer. But I suppose in the time since, I have been learning to channel that feeling into new ways of thinking and recognising that maybe it is good to feel critical of my own position and circumstances. In attempting to recognise where I fit into something and what, if anything I have to offer, I can begin to work out where God is calling me to be a missionary disciple and continue to discern what this call looks like in my own life.