From the Director - There are heroes among us
In 1927 Max Ehrmann wrote ‘Desiderata’ which became a popular meditation in the 1970s. ‘Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence...’ In the middle of his text he also wrote,’ ...many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism...’
As I reflect on the stories in the June issue of The Far East magazine, I am conscious of the heroism of people, the known heroes who have a moment of fame and the unknown heroes who do not. The Fr Brian Gore story on Negros Island in the Philippines is a far cry from his days in prison on a charge of murder and the international media interest which followed.
Today he is working with poor uneducated farmers to keep their land. They cannot pay for fertilisers for their crops and have to use alternatives methods or leave the land for a worse life than what they have now.
Fr Donald Hornsey who lives 3481 metres above sea level in the Andes Mountains in Peru is on the same course. The people have farming knowledge but they do not have education. Together they are moving forward, battling forces that are beyond the control of these farming communities. An integral part of this work is that the priests live close to the people to understand what their needs and aspirations are. The battle to survive is a war the people know well.
Australian, Fr Philip Crosbie is recalled in this issue. A Columban priest who was caught up in the Korean War and endured a death march into North Korea where to fall behind was to be killed by the guards. He helped many a U.S. serviceman to keep going because he was strong physically, mentally and spiritually.
For this reason, he was more of a hero in the United States than in Australia. His book, March Till They Die or in Australia, Pencilling Prisoner, is a moving account of that ordeal. He never seemed interested in being a hero and after recuperating in Australia he returned to Korea. Fr Crosbie died in Melbourne on Holy Thursday night, 2005, the night that we celebrate the institution of the priesthood. He died with a Korean couple and a Columban priest by his bedside. It seemed appropriate.
Columban Frs Martin Ryan and Sean Conneely work in the ministry of alcoholic addiction and drug dependency. They are well qualified in the field as they are alcoholic priests. St Paul wrote famously about strength in weakness, that God often works powerfully through those who are weak but have learned to give their lives over to God, sometimes learning this on the edge of the abyss. Anyone who has stayed sober is a hero.
Life is full of heroism and I am reminded not only of these Columbans but of the unsung heroes that we know in our lives. The people who give life as Jesus did to others by what they do, and who, often enough, live quietly just down the street. They are all called by the Holy Spirit and have responded to that call by their lives lived in the pattern of Jesus Christ himself.
Fr Gary Walker
Read more articles From the Director
Read more articles from the current E-News