On the 4th of January 2019, Fr Jude and I joined Fr Mario and parishioners of St John’s, Heidelberg for a Mission Immersion.
We were greeted warmly by the Paulist Missionaries and shared their hospitality, prayer life and ministry.
Initially, I was apprehensive about going with a growing fear of the unknown but this was quickly overcome by the strong bond and friendships developed during the Immersion experience and the deep desire to reach out to those in need.
The experience captured for me the inspiring ministry of the mssp community both in Manila and Bataan, other religious orders, the many lay volunteers and the Church’s outreach to the poor and marginalised.
The Immersion experience helped us understand and involve ourselves in Jesus’ mission where we came face to face with the local communities in need from Prison Ministry, visiting the squatter families in 13th Street, living in very poor conditions, engaging with the families, caring for disabled children at orphanages, assisting staff and volunteers with household and personal care, tasks such as feeding and interacting with toddlers and children.
At the Jose De Piro Centre in the mssp Parish of St Catherine of Alexandria we visited the many schools, visited parishioners and engaged in the life of the community.
Over all the experience was both challenging and confronting as well as uplifting and life-changing. So many amazing people that we met and I feel forever changed.
The value and support of the many debrief sessions and reflection day helped me to realise that we are all brothers and sisters, empathising with the people we met, sharing their daily joy and sorrows, celebrating their richness and gifts and feeling for their pain. I learnt as much from them, possibly more as they learned from me.
Supported throughout the experience by critical and prayerful sharing, we as a group recognised that we are all involved in taking responsibility for their reality in our global society.