TAKE 10 everyday folk, most of them from parishes across south-east Queensland and send them on a short mission to an Indonesian island.
They will spend 10 days sharing their joy, engaging in simple moments and having their eyes opened to the Gospel in action.
This is the scenario for parishioners who visit the Missionaries of the Poor monastery on Flores, eastern Indonesia, to take part in daily life, share stories and experiences, and support some of the impoverished and disabled children who are taken into care there.
The Missionaries of the Poor, founded in 1981, is an international institute of religious brothers and sisters dedicated to “Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross” to serve the poorest of the poor.
On their return to Queensland, the everyday missionaries are keen to share their stories, especially of witnessing a Mass during which 22 brothers of the Missionaries of the Poor undertook vows after living a life of poverty for 12 months.
The complete process towards final vows takes 10 years.
“For most of us, the highlight of the trip was the very moving ceremony on the Saturday evening,” Kay Corcoran, a parishioner from St Benedict’s, North Lakes, said.
“Family members of the brothers were invited to attend, and as each aspirant entered the chapel, he was accompanied by a parent or close family member.
“Each aspirant rose and stood in his place as the superior, Brother Prisca, called him by name.
“He responded with a loud, definite and clear, ‘Here I am’, before stepping forward to join with his brothers to make his commitment to the next stage of his formation.
“The new postulants were then vested in their white-hooded cassocks and wide, white belts, by their accompanying parent or family member.
“It was great to see everyone joining in with the brothers following the Mass and commitment ceremony where the celebrations included plenty of freshly cooked Indonesian food and uplifting music with lots of joy and laughter.”
Other highlights of the Indonesian mission included a trip to the neighbouring island of Komodo to see the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo Dragon.
“We watched in awe on the day we went by boat with some of the brothers, as we saw Brother Prisca walk up to a group of young adults who were playing on the beach,” she said.
“He quickly engaged with them as he had carried a soccer ball with him.
“It wasn’t long before the small group had gathered round Brother as he spoke with them.
“Later, we asked him what he had said to them, how he had got their attention to the point that they wanted to listen to him.
“We were all looking for ways in which we also could evangelise.
“Brother Prisca, from Haiti, and obviously not a local, said that the conversation followed the normal lines of ‘where are you from’ and ‘what are you doing here?’
“Brother Prisca took this opportunity to tell them about the Missionaries of the Poor and the work that they are doing.
“And in the words of Jesus, he invited them to ‘Come and See’.”
While on an overnight visit to Ruteng, a town about five hours away from the monastery, the Aussie missionaries stopped off at Cancar to talk with an elderly Holy Spirit nun, Sister Robertilde, to listen to her story.
“She had successfully opened and run a leprosy clinic in the area,” Mrs Corcoran said.
“Next to this facility, the sisters cared for forty children who had disabilities.
“These sisters were totally self-sufficient for their needs and grew their own vegetables as well as keeping a number of pigs.”
Others amongst the group shared their mission highlights on their return to Australia.
“Experiencing the prayer life of the brothers, the joyful service, love of God and strong faith of the Missionaries of the Poor (was a highlight),” one said.
“Praying the Stations of the Cross as we ascended a mountain,” another said.
The missionary group will gather to share memories of their Flores trip at Holy Family Parish, Indooroopilly, on Friday, September 13 at 6pm.
For more information, visit the main website www.missionariesofthepoor.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org