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God Loves Everyone

Columbans and others in a group
Columbans and others



Dear Columban Friends,

Columban lay missionary Nathalie Marytsch recently shared with me one of her mission experiences, and I wanted to share it with you also. As a faithful supporter, you make the work of dedicated Columban lay missionaries like Nathalie possible and fruitful. For that, we are extraordinarily grateful.

Most of us have had, at one time or another, an encounter with a homeless person. Those encounters can be challenging, but Nathalie reminds us that God loves everyone. As you will see, the story of her encounter is a lesson for all of us in living a Christ-like life.

Nathalie Marytsch and her husband Mauricio
Lay Missionary Nathalie Marytsch and her husband Mauricio

It was a sweltering afternoon when I was traveling back home. For those of you who have experienced traveling on buses in the West Midlands, Britain, you appreciate the small windows — which open only six inches at most — that keep you warm during the winter. However, when the weather gets hot, you think twice about the journey. On this particular afternoon the mercury had climbed to 81 degrees, and commuters were evidently uncomfortable due to the heat. To make matters more challenging, there was a homeless passenger whose evident lack of personal hygiene repelled everyone around him.

I was sitting a row behind the man and I considered moving seats or even getting off the bus, as some of my fellow passengers had done. However, I chose not to. It wasn’t because I wanted to be some sort of hero, but because I felt challenged. Instead, I tried to imagine what this man’s early days had been like: his childhood, his youth. What events led him to have that scruffy appearance, with all sorts of stains on his clothing? When I asked him to excuse me so I could get off the bus, the man tapped my shoulder and muttered, “sorry I smell ma’am … but I don’t have no one.”

Thinking about this encounter with the homeless man reminded me of Jesus’ encounter with the Syrophoenician woman. We know that she was a foreigner from a region known as Canaan. According to Matthew’s Gospel, she was seeking a cure for her daughter, who was thought to be possessed by a demon. The disciples’ reaction, “send her away, for she keeps crying after us,” followed by Jesus’ remark that He was only sent for the people of Israel, makes me wonder how we treat homeless people today. How often do we detach ourselves from these realities? Similarly, in Jesus’ initial words, we can observe a clear distinction regarding whom Jesus came to save and those whom He did not.

A painting of wildflowers

The woman’s daughter being possessed presents Jesus and the disciples with yet another challenge. She is seen as an impure soul who is not deserving of healing and grace. She is viewed as an outsider tainted by disease and shame. It is interesting that it is only because the woman persists and challenges Jesus that He changes His attitude, finally recognizing and praising this foreign mother for her great faith. The gist of this story, in my opinion, is that by journeying with others, we discover the gifts and blessings that God brings us.

As I journey with diverse communities, trying to live out my missionary call, I am reminded of the blessings and challenges I have experienced. Encounters like the one with the homeless man on the bus serve as a constant reminder that I need to be challenged to change my perceptions, to consider when I am not being welcoming and compassionate, and ultimately, to confront my prejudices that may hinder me from seeing God and sharing God’s love with even the seemingly least of my brothers and sisters.

Additionally, I feel challenged to explore the issue of homelessness in the broad sense, looking at the structures that cause people to fall out the safety nets. While compassion is at the core of the Christian message, justice and equal opportunities for all are just as central.

Thank you for your generous support of Columban missionaries like Nathalie. Together, we embrace the challenges of bringing God’s love to all during these challenging times. Please know that we remember you gratefully in our Masses and prayers.


Gratefully yours in Christ,

Fr. Chris Saenz, Director

Fr. Chris Saenz | Director, U.S. Region


The Missionary Society of St. Columban is entrusted by the Holy Father with part of the Church’s mission to spread the Faith and saving work of Christ.” (Vat.II) The Society works under the guidance of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and under the leadership of the bishops. We are listed in the U.S. Official Catholic Directory published annually by P.J. Kennedy and Sons. As such, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service recognizes us as a religious not-for-profit corporation, therefore contributions to our work are tax deductible. We employ no outside professional fund-raisers and pay no commissions.