St Mary’s new PP, came to visit on Friday. I asked if I could share with you something of our chat and he said ‘yes’. Fr Anthony was educated in the seminary of the first missionary order in the continent of Africa, the Missionaries of St Paul. He served as a missionary in Cameroon and then was sent to Liberia, then very unstable. I asked him lots of questions about Liberia , knowing how violent it had been for a while. He had found himself having to rescue very brutalised child soldiers and got help to set up a secret rehab house but the militia wanted their ‘soldiers’ back and finally found the house. Fr Anthony was beaten nearly to death and was in a coma for three months in Germany. On recovering he was asked to serve in a parish with 3,500 parishioners, where he set up a lunch club with home cooked food and entertainment for people on their own. Fr Anthony told me when sent to a parish he is a great believer in continuity, letting everything and everybody continue as they are and building on what’s already there with everybody.
There is something amazing about the missionary priest or religious sister. I recall when I was a child my mum and others, even in a poor place like Govan, shelling out every penny they had when a missionary visited. People respected the generosity and love in which they give up everything for love of the Lord; the joy and warmth of your own marriage and children; the leaving home and family for a completely different culture