Hope and Gratitude
Life itself is a blessing. You will never know what it will bring, but you'll always be sure that whatever life may offer, it will be for the best. Life is easy because of the Love of our God. His Grace and guidance are constantly available for us. It is for this very reason why we are where we are right now and why we meet different people in our journey. I truly believe that God's ways will never lead us wrong in life. I am here in Chile, and I am blessed to experience being in the presence of Columban missionaries.
At an early age, I was already exposed to the Catholic Church. I know what the Church services are and all it encompasses. I've been a member of different religious organizations, and became a part of the Singles for Christ (SFC) Catholic Ministry group from which my faith grew. SFC also became the means of the Lord for me to encounter such wonderful people in Chile.
After almost six months of my soul hungering for service and English Mass, I was blessed to finally meet my angels. They were the ones who rekindled the fire of the Holy Spirit within me. And I am proud to say it was because of Columban missionaries.
I do volunteer work in the church like helping in maintaining the cleanliness of the cathedral, reading the Scripture readings during Mass, singing in the choir and do some technical work as well. I attend different church celebrations they organize which are opportunities for me to be active in the Church. I want to express my deep gratitude to the Columbans by sharing my experience of God's love through them. There are three reasons why I'm always touched by God because of them.
They Connect People to Church
I am amazed by the way they live their responsibility to bring Church to the people. They organize English Mass for us migrant workers here in Chile. Because of the Columbans, I'm able to attend Eucharistic celebrations every weekend. Every Mass is full of fun – a very interactive celebration with the Lord which is well participated by the attendees. They also lead us in the Sacraments. And they arrange baptisms and first communion for my friends. Apart from receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly with Columban priests, they also give time for counseling. The Columbans were also part of one of my companions' wedding in the parish.
They Build Bridges Among People
The Columban missionaries are the very living example of kindness, humility and compassion towards every person they encounter. They give support to people of different cultures, languages and religions. We are so blessed that there are Filipinos who are part of the Columban community. The cultural differences and language barriers were minimized and handled easily because of them.
I am inspired by how they built great relationships with others even if it can be hard to empathize with everybody. They've established strong camaraderie with us. They invited us to celebrate special occasions to encourage unity among us Filipinos. They teach us acceptance and admiration towards people with whom they have worked with through their exceptional reflections and teachings. They always have an open heart and consideration to the community they serve. At all times, they are ready to give a helping hand. They know how to reach out to the poor and those in need. We do volunteer work with them in one of the home care institutions in Santiago. I'm also blessed to meet loving and generous families in our community through them.
They showed me what Christian leadership is all about based on the love and obedience they have for God. They showed me how to lead a peaceful way of life. This helped me to rebuild my true self and worth, as well as have a better relationship with others. I am more loving, forgiving and considerate because of the words of wisdom I received from them.
The Columban missionaries are committed to work in righteousness, harmony and truth. They help us increase our knowledge on, and give support for, the rights of migrants. They have a high respect for human life, a concern for the environment; how they value the earth guides us to be one in keeping our planet clean and green.
Finally, and most important of all…
They Bring People to God
They let us experience their evangelizing works that reached and changed most of our lives. They lead me to a life of spirituality and prayer in a Christ-centerd neighborhood. We have Bible studies, prayer meetings and regular heart-to-heart talks for spiritual nourishment and for personal growth. They always encourage us to be part of their mission life by getting involved in their religious activities. They have opened again the desire of my heart to serve and do mission work, guiding me in discerning for what is most pleasing to God that is hard to find within the modern world today.
Truly, my life in Chile is more meaningful because of the Columban missionaries who became my friends, mentors and my family away from home. They will always be my inspiration. I may walk a different road in life or may choose other opportunities in the future, but a part of me will always be rejoicing, full of hope and gratitude because of the Columban missionaries' presence in my journey.
Maria Cieleen D. Lambampa is a migrant worker from the Philippines living in Chile. She is a member of the Filipino community Columban lay missionary Michael Javier works with in his ministry in Santiago, Chile.