While visiting Pontifical Mission Societies (TPMS) projects in the missions, I can always count on one thing -no matter how well planned the itinerary is, something will interrupt it. Because our TPMS family is worldwide, I have a very large safety net to call upon when it does.
In Uganda, Father Deo was my "shepherd." When he got news that his grandmother had passed away, he naturally wanted to go home to celebrate her funeral. How was I going to continue? The answer came easily. We called the local Diocesan Director of TPMS and within forty minutes I was a guest at his home. He served me dinner, provided a place to sleep, and arranged a ride to my next stop where Father Deo rejoined me.
In Papua New Guinea, a lovely man named Roderick drove me to TPMS-funded projects. When it came time for my trip to end, Roderick told me we needed to go a day early because the bishop needed the truck. A seminarian's mother had died and the truck we were using was needed to transport the body. It was the only large church-owned vehicle in the diocese. What to do?
The airport was in the same city as the TPMS National Director's house so, a call was made, and hospitality was instantly offered. Father Walenty Gryz, SVD also volunteered to get me to the airport the next day. I had dinner with five Divine Word Missionaries that night and we shared stories of priests from the order that we knew in common!
As I write this, I am travelling once again. This time, I am on vacation with my husband in Ireland. We have had a wonderful time relaxing in the "Wild West" of Connemara. Because our National TPMS conference dates were announced after we booked this trip, I found that it was less expensive to stay an extra two days and fly directly to the conference. Where would I stay for the extra time?
With the Divine Word Missionaries, of course. We know two priests from the Irish/British Province who had served in our TPMS Vatican office. They came to my rescue, gave me a room, and have delivered me to the airport, where I sit writing.
When missionaries visit the Archdiocese of Boston, my house is always open to them if needed. It's the least I can do as I have always bewelcomed me, far from home, more times than I can count.
This summer, as missionaries visit your parishes, please extend a hand of welcome. I promise, you'll be repaid many times over, somewhere along the road.
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.