After the visit to St Benedict’s Church we went a little distance away and visited the graves of a few CICM missionaries. The scene that I saw moved me in a special way. A life well lived. A life surrendered to serve God. A life not wasted but well spent. So many thoughts crossed my mind. No words were uttered. We were all preoccupied. No explanation was necessary.
We had been informed by our Spiritual Director Fr Anthony CICM that they were expected to remain in the country they had been sent to evangelise. No one expected to go home until ten years later, but many died whilst on mission. There were priests as young as 27. They remained buried there. On this trip, we visited several sites and thanked God for the early missionaries including the numerous Jesuits and Franciscans who had surrendered their lives to the Lord.
How poignant it was! A few graves on a seemingly desolate piece of land. But the animals came and with them was a lone shepherd. My thoughts went to several passages in the Bible and I thought especially of that first Christmas night. The shepherds were the first to receive the message of the Incarnation.
I also thought of the fragility of life. The words of Job came to mind. . . yes, it was easy enough to be reflective and silent. My own thoughts kept me company. There was little I wished to say to anyone else. Surely my other companions had thoughts of their own.
The photo belows shows the young priest who was responsible for making all the connections in the five dioceses that we visited during our trip. He was instrumental in making our trip so memorable, and we all loved him. He was truly a servant, serving the Lord without reservation. We heard his vocation story and we thank God for the gift of Fr Matthew!