I visited the columbarium at the Church of the Holy Spirit one morning and experienced a deep sense of peace. I told myself that if I ever needed total physical silence, this would be a good place to stay for a while. I was all alone and all around me were the ashes of the faithful departed. I looked around and prayed for all the souls. Then I went round a second time and I stopped before certain niches to remember these special people. I went before my mother’s niche and thanked God for giving her eternal life. She was the first Catholic in my family. Praise God!
Then I went to a very exclusive area and there were the niches of a few CICM priests. They gave their lives to serve as missionaries. In a very special way I wish to remember them for the Scheut Missions was founded in 1862 for the conversion of China. This year marks the 150th year of the founding of the CICM – Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When the priests were expelled from China, they came to Singapore. Thank God for every one of them. Thank God for the priests who are still serving here.
Father Theophile Verbist, the Founder of CICM said: “The specific goal of the CICM is to commit itself entirely to the proclamation of the Good News wherever a missionary presence is most needed, especially among the peoples where the Gospel is not known or lived” I heard from a friend who had gone on several trips to evangelise in rural parts of China how difficult the circumstances were, but she is happy and will continue to go as she knows that the Good News is being proclaimed to people truly hungry for it. She is not the only one who longs to share the Good News. . . they need the support of our prayers to persevere and to remain faithful to their calling.
Fr Verbist is also known to have said: “To him who loves, nothing is difficult.” Yes, it is true. There is no labour where there is true love. My friend shared with me how poorly the people ate each day. She shared the same and for her that was tough as there were times when the meal was only a hard cold bun. (I remember having seen such buns when I went to a CICM mission house in Mongolia.) One day my friend was told that she would be visiting the bishop and so, jokingly she told her friends that she would probably have a better meal. To her surprise, she found that the Bishop lived under more miserable conditions, and the food that they had that day was even less palatable. She was deeply moved seeing how many sacrifices the shepherd of the flock was making.
So, it is true that where there is true love, there is no labour. My friend has many more trips planned and she wil continue to go where there are opportunities to share the Good News. This reminds me of what a priest from Sri Lanka said: evangelisation is really one beggar telling another where there is food. Yes, we need to share the food that will lead us to eternal life. May God bless all missionaries!