May 31, 2010


Last weekend, we had a big vigil for Pentecost. Vigils in Chile aren't like those we've attended in the US. When we first arrived to Chile, we were invited to attend a Pentecost vigil. We expected mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, for a couple of hours in a silent church. What we got was an all night slumber party. There was singing, dancing, games and food. By the time 8am rolled around, we were dead tired and ready to be home in bed. The kids were still going strong and immediately began asking when the next vigil would be.

The one we had in our parish this year was a compromise, since we are in a Chilean parish, but the two priests and two lay missionaries in charge of the event are all foreigners! Our multicultural version still involved singing, dancing and food. However, we won the battle of time, ending the event at midnight instead of 8am. The youth ministry here really just started when we arrived to the north a couple of years ago. So, this event, which was planned by the youth leaders, was a big success for us. We had a 130 people participate, of all ages, but with a majority of teens. The presence of teens is very attractive to other teens. Events like this serve as great motivators for kids just starting out in the youth groups. They see so many others their age participating - praising God and interested in their faith - that it takes away their own embarrassment and makes it more of a normal process.

We were feeling particularly proud of the kids in our own chapel, since they were participating so well and many of them are brand new to the church. So, last night we took them down to Iquique for a diocesan wide celebration of Pentecost. Again, lots of singing and dancing. However, this time, Anna caught a couple of the kids sneaking off to smoke cigarettes and another couple kissing in a corner, after they had gone off "looking for the bathroom." So, please be assured, our teens are real, with all the annoying things that teens do attached. We're happy to have such a normal bunch to be participating with us and are looking forward to see God transform their lives as they get more involved.

May 22, 2010

The Best Present EVER

Joshua is at a stage where he doesn't like anything, he only loves it or HATES it. Guitars are under the love category. But, being as he is so destructive and Anna is so crafty, she decided to forgoe buying him a cheap plastic guitar that would be crushed in a month and made him an even cheaper (but more love-filled) version out of old cereal boxes. He, of course, loved it. So much so that he continued pretend strumming while drinking his milk, and then screamed bloody murder when she tried to take it away at the end of the night. He fell asleep embracing it like his favorite teddy bear and when he awoke the next morning, his first sleepy words were, "ee-tah-uh," which you've probably figured out is baby Spanish for guitar. It was crushed within a week, but oh what a fun week it was.

The Introduction

His best Hendrix impression.

The nighttime embrace.

May 8, 2010

Would they know we are Christians by our love?

Todays gospel, Jn 15, 18-21:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;

but because you do not belong to the world,

and I have chosen you out of the world,

the world hates you.

Remember the word I spoke to you,

‘No slave is greater than his master.’

If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.

If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,

because they do not know the one who sent me.”

Last week we were trying to get this idea across to one of our youth groups - that being a Christian doesn't mean a life without pain or suffering. In fact, many Christians suffer more because of their beliefs. Often, it would be a lot easier to just forget Christ's teaching to love our neighbor and to ignore that homeless guy on the street, or not to respect God's creation by throwing that candy wrapper out the window. We introduced the youth to two Christians that most would agree, lived their lives for Christ and suffered greatly because of it: Mother Theresa and Archbishop Oscar Romero. It surprised us when they claimed to have never even heard of either of them! Who's never heard of Mother Theresa?! We hid our shock and reminded ourselves that these kids are 14 years old, that she died in 1997 when they were babies and that all of them are self-claimed haters of reading. Ask them about Daddy Yankee and we're sure that they could teach us a few things.... but back to the point.

After watching a short video on Romero, one youth stood in silence, mouth gaping... "Uncle David, what happened? They didn't kill him, did they?!". This led to the inevitable and necessary question, why?, which gave way to a great discussion on what it means to be a Christian today. We're pretty sure they understood the message. Now today, that same message is for us. We are forced to make a choice daily:

Do I belong to the world?

Or, do I belong to Christ?

May 3, 2010

Who are the Columbans?

Columban missionaries are Catholics called to share the gospel by crossing borders. We're a group of men and women, religious and lay, single and married, who come from all over the world. It may be interesting to know that most of our missionaries are coming from Asia at this time.

In 2009, the Columban family included 483 priests, 60 lay missionaries and 16 associate priests (diocesan priests "on loan" to the Columbans for a specific number of years). The "Misionary Sisters of Saint Columban," while forming a separate and autonomous society, also share our missionary journey. Columbans are currently working in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Chile, China, Fiji, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan and the U.S.A. If you are interested in learning more about our history, then we highly recommend reading The Red Lacquered Gate by William E. Barrett.

The point of this blog entry is to let you know that we're not alone. We are one family who has answered the call to mission, and we are accompanied by a fantastic group of people. Some of those people also like to blog. So, if you're interested in reading about their adventures, you can link to their sites on the side bar to the right under "Columban Blogs."

We especially recommend "Diamonds on a Mission", which is written by American couple Dan and Meri Diamond, who are on their first year of mission in Peru. Other links are from lay missionaries in the Philippines and Columbans in the U.S. We know there are more out there, but haven't been able to track them down yet.

"Columban Lay Mission Conference" held in Chile in 2005.