Thursday, October 3, 2013

Awesome Realization

On Wednesday, I had a meeting with the Jerusalem Patriarch, the Apostolic Nuncio, the Jordanian archbishop and twelve other Catholic leaders from the Middle East. They represented Jerusalem, Palestine, Cyprus, and were Orthodox, Armenian, Melkite, Maronite, and other representatives. I was called forward to speak about the status of Christian immigrants to the Middle East, which went well from the applause I received.

As I presented my report, I realized the weighty responsibility we have in the region and that I have in the parish. While my predecessors focused primarily on the Filipino population, I have brought a balance to the parish's demographics. The Filipino community has real concerns and they have a very well functioning embassy that tries to serve them in many aspects of life. Some of the other minority populations do not have the same embassy strength behind them.

While the Filipino are probably seventy-five percent of the population, the Arab community requires much care and attention. The Africans (Somali, Sudanese, Kenyan, Nigerian, and South African) do not get much pastoral care and they are a significant community. The Indians are another large group of parishioners who do not seem to have a cohesive strategy for pastoral care. Sri Lankans have their own priest, but many still come to the English-speaking parish. Many Europeans and North and South Americans attend the parish and they are active enough to ask for what they need. Asians that include Koreans, Japanese, Indonesians, and other groups need additional support. I wish I could find ways to represent them all better. Many of them need legal representation. The sweeping needs of the whole community is astonishing to me when I think of the great responsibility placed within my hands as I am responsible for the care of their souls.

However, as I watched, listened to, and learned from these Patriarchs, I realized that they are an impressive assemblage of Church leaders. They asked intelligent and compassionate questions and were truly concerned for the welfare of Christians in the area. They pointed out that many Arab Christians left the Holy Land, which we represent, but they have been replaced by new categories of Christians. The demographics are changing radically. The numbers are not necessarily shrinking, but they are changing, and a great deal of these immigrants are English-speaking.

I realized I am part of something very large and important. These men are working hard for their people and they have hearts of gold. I realized my mission to Jordan has greater weight than I realized in my first year. In the first year of pastorship, I looked inwards to bring order and structure to the parish; in this second year, I must look outwards because there are needs that I do not even know about yet. I am part of a worldwide team of Catholics and I feel emboldened to do my best at bringing our brothers and sisters together.



4 comments:

  1. John, it is so energizing to be part of a team of people from different backgrounds who are working together to help others. It would have been overwhelming, I expect, to hear of so many needs when you first arrived. You were able to focus on your own parish and now the Lord is calling you to move outside. How exciting for you! Blessings and prayers.

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    1. This is a great feeling. I have a new direction and renewed purpose. It is all good.

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  2. Very well done on your presentation- awesome task indeed, especially on the legal front and with language and cultural differences and expectations /barriers to boot. But you have already achieved so much good in such a short time- the excellent grounding and trust you are establishing between you and your fellow parishioners plus networks you are developing are all fertile ground for the future. You are a star !! Many prayers and blessings sent your way.

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    1. Many thanks, Phil. I'll take the prayers and your compliments feel good. Everything takes time, but all is going fairly well.

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