Monday, January 14, 2013

The Restless Missionary

by Marley Dacanay
      Columban Lay Missionary, Taiwan, 2003 - 2006

 Over a month now in Brasilia. I arrived in the afternoon of  10 October 2012.
It was a consolation to be travelling with Julie from Montreal to Toronto in Canada then Sao Paulo and finally Brasilia as our first mission assignment. First mission assignment since we will be studying the Portuguese language   for 2 whole months in the Centro Cultural Missionario.
Being late for almost a month in the Portuguese class, we had to start our class right away the next day. Portuguese is my third foreign language to learn. At 45 years old this is no joke.
 I have never ever dreamed of being on the other side of the globe. My first mission country was Taiwan and second was Cambodia . It had been even very  difficult for me to leave the Philippines for the first time. But then, I was able to accept the reality and felt comfortable with the fact that I was just in Asia.
In the truest sense… “I am now living each day as it comes…” here in Brasilia. So thankful at the end of each day and even more grateful at the start of another new day!

There are times that I would terribly miss my family, relatives  and friends and the familiar and comfortable things  that I have been used to … but then, I can always  reminisce and thank God for them. There are also times when I would experience fear and uncertainty for the future… but then, I can always pray and ask God to liberate me from those unhappy feelings.
 Centro Cultural Missionario (CCM)  is not only a venue for Portuguese class for foreign missionaries but is also a venue for all other Church and Parish formations and conferences. Few days after I arrived, CCM had a conference for all priests Brazil-wide. A week later, it had a conference for all bishops Brazil-wide… and I  even told one of my friends… maybe the next conference will be for cardinals. And this week CCM has a conference for the local church lay persons, priests and sisters all-together. The frequent conferences here in the CCM  have been a source of inspiration and friendship since I get to know and meet other people.

Since the day I arrived in Brasilia, all our community prayers and celebrations of the Holy Eucharist have been in Portuguese. If there is one thing that I terribly miss, it is the celebration of the mass in English, Cebuano or Tagalog. I have never ever understood a single homily since the day I arrived Brasilia.
 My first significant contact with the local culture and  Catholic faith was when I had my family immersion with a Brazilian family for six days. My foster family was a couple about my age  with two daughters who are both in the university. The main purpose of the immersion was to practice my Portuguese language and at the same time be acquainted with the culture new to me. During my stay with the family, I had the opportunity to join them in all church and parish activities. The couple was more involved with the youth program in the parish. To name a few activities I experienced with them are youth encounter activity, mass celebration for all souls day, confirmation rite and the regular Sunday masses. And just like in the Philippines … the church was full with people all the time.
The holy mass celebrations were animated and attended by many people of all ages. They would wave their missal sheets during the entrance song and during the singing of the alleluia. They would even clap their hands to applaud the gospel after it has been read. In the parish where my family lived, people would get so emotional and teary eyed during the homily… but I had no clue what the homily was all about.
 At one point , I asked myself what else do I have to share to the Brazilian people when  they are so expressive and strong in their faith. Incidentally, my two previous mission experiences were both in a country where Catholicism or Christianity is not their major religion. My expression of mission was by being present with the people, sharing in their normal and ordinary lives and making and building friendship with them while doing some small projects and activities with my missionary group.
Coming to Brazil, I feel that  it is God’s way of renewing and strengthening my Catholic faith. At this point in my life, I feel so blessed and privileged that God allowed me to take part in His works of mission through my new group… The Foreign Mission Society of Quebec…
To God be the glory…
16 November 2012
 “ My heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee. “ - St. Augustine
Taiwan, 2005, Marley (3rd from left, front row) with members of the Taiwan Mission Unit
The author, from Pagadian City, Philippines, was a Columban Lay Missionary in  Taiwan for three years (2003-2006).   Recently, she joined the Foreign Mission Society of Quebec and now in Brazil for her mission assignment.   

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