Saturday, January 21, 2017

Final Day of Travel - Coming Home

            This day began very early as I arose at 1:00 a.m. to be ready at 2:30 a.m for Mother Consuelo, Sr. Mary Theresa and Sr. Mary Eugenia to take Father Fabio and I to the airport for our very early morning flight.  Most of the Sisters had not gone to bed since they were keeping an all-night/all-day vigil with the deceased body of Sr. Antonia.  In spite of their lack of sleep and our small amount of sleep, we had a great final trip through the dark, middle-of-the-night Colombian countryside, filled with pleasant and friendly conversation.

              One of the things that I have failed to mention is about the natural beauty of this part of God's beautiful world.  The terrain is mountainous with lush green growth everywhere

much of it forest area.  Because it is always springtime, flowers and trees are in bloom all year round.  In fact, the La Ceja area of Colombia, and many other parts of the Colombian countryside, are known for their flower industry.  All around are farms and nurseries which raise flowers of all kinds; greenhouses, mostly covered in plastic for protection can be as tall as a two story building and these greenhouses of a particular farm might cover many acres.  We were told that with St. Valentine's Day coming up, this is a very busy season because Colombia provides 70-80 percent of the flowers that will be sold in the U.S on Valentine's Day.   That's quite something.  Fr.Fabio has some beautiful photos of the natural beauty of the area that I hope we will get to post.

           Speaking of the flower industry, the Sisters said, and others verified, that the unemployment rate is so low that there is not a percentage given to it.  If what we saw during these days is any indication, we can certainly verify that because everyone on the streets and in the cities were constantly busy.  When we visited Medellin, we saw many signs of homelessness, but those who are homeless are not people from that area, but rather refugees who have been displaced or have escaped from the guerilla warfare going on in other parts of Colombia. 

           We arrived at the airport in plenty of time with very few people around. The Sisters insisted on going in with us and seeing us through check in and until we had to go through security.  Our farewells were tinged with sadness but sealed with the joyful reality that lasting relationships have been formed and that we are more than partners in ministry with the Missionary Servants of the Divine Spirit, but that we are truly brothers and sisters united in our shared faith and desire to advance God's Kingdom everywhere.
Bishop Bradley praying in the Panama City airport chapel. 

          While I don't mean this in any way to be a commercial of any sort, but I do want to say that these Sisters live the most modest lifestyle one can imagine, certainly worthy of those committed to following the simple Life of our Lord, but none of their resources goes to making their own lives more comfortable or enjoyable, but rather to help them send these joyful and loving Sisters to serve where they are needed in all parts of the world, including the Diocese of Kalamazoo in Michigan.  If you would want to send them a donation, or regularly adopt them as one of your worthy charities, you can send your donation directly to the Diocese of Kalamazoo with an indication on the Memo line of the check for the Missionary Servants of the Divine Spirit, and periodically, we will make the electronic transfer into their account.  You can be certain that these donations will truly be helping to do the work of Evangelization and bringing the Gospel of Joy to those who long to hear it. 

        All four of our flights were wonderfully boring, that is, nothing remarkable.  Each was smooth, safe, on-time, and best of all, our bags got to Kalamazoo at the same time we did.  Now it's back to doing our more normal, less exotic, but wonderfully important work of God. With thanks to God for blessing this 5,160 mile (round trip) Pastoral Visit with success and many graces for me and Fr. Fabio, with deep gratitude to the Catholic Extension Society who is funding this wonderful fuve-year program with the Sisters, including providing the funds for this pastoral visit for me and Fr. Fabio to have spent these days together with the Sisters, and assuring you  that your prayerful intentions accompanied us all along our way, I remain

Faithfully yours in Christ,

 + Bishop Paul J. Bradley, Bishop of Kalamazoo

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this visit with us! I have so enjoyed reading about all the blessings of this journey! Thanking God for you and your ministry!