Redemptorists of Australia and New Zealand

Australia, New Zealand and Samoa

Province of Oceania

Bringing Good News to the World

Challenge and blessing

By Vincent Doherty C.Ss.R.

Coming out of the Australian winter of July 1966, and into the tropical heat of the Philippines, was a severe experience of climate change.Mother of Perpetual Help Shrine, Manila, Philippines

But that was only the start of it. There were many further changes to face:

  • a new language to learn;
  • new thought patterns to master;
  • new cultural expressions to understand and adopt;
  • new demands in the work of evangelisation                                 

I had stepped out of the every-day assumptions of Australian democracy and found myself knee-deep in martial law. How would I respond? As a foreigner, how could I respond?

New Gospel challenges opened up to me:

  • to conscientise the people in their daily experiences;
  • to take up the challenge of the Asian Bishops to build communities of faith and action among the people.

New questions arose for me:

  • How will Redemptorists, in these particular circumstances, proclaim the Good News of Christ?
  • How will we evangelise the people so that they would become agents for change in their own environment?

I found myself outside my comfort zone, yet energised for something far beyond it. It became a matter of listening more closely to the people and to the Lord.
When I began preaching missions in the Philippines I saw myself as giving to the people. Now I realise I am receiving from them, being evangelised by them.

I observe that the people:

  • live very frugally and yet remain joyful and hopeful;
  • share necessities and practice hospitality;
  • enjoy each others company in simple ways;
  • are willing to fight oppression at great personal risk and sacrifice.

My life on the foreign missions has faced me with these new experiences. They have been both a challenge and a blessing.