It is easy for me to write about what it means to be a missionary in the spirit of Philippine. I entered back in 1951 on November 17th for the feast of Blessed Philippine and felt a deep attraction to her spirit of prayer and austerity even then. Later in the 1950’s, after my vows, I heard an Egyptian Jesuit talk about his missionary vocation suddenly taking hold at God’s words to Abraham,” Quitte ton pays” (Leave your country). I felt on fire, as if they were also spoken to me. It took 20 years of nagging and the 1970 General Chapter to achieve it but in 1971 I was sent to Uganda.
There I have spent 27 of my 47 years in Africa here in Karamoja unable to master the local language because of deafness, and ministry in secondary school and age. I have learned to say ‘yes’ to reality as Philippine did and to be content and at peace with the limitations and conditions of my life. That contentment is fed by daily prayer and Eucharist which are central to me.
My advice to a person thinking of going to the missions would be: Don’t expect great success. Be ready to second others. Let God show you how to empower them to live prayerful, unselfish lives. Try to find a way to be close to the poor. Treasure prayer time. Treasure the Eucharist. Treasure community life and good friends. Don’t let difficulties upset you. Remember that, ultimately, God who is Love is the one in control and will not be vanquished.
- Margaret Conroy, rscj