For most people, that kind of a journey would be inconceivable. My brother-in-law,for example, who lives in Chicago, thinks any trip beyond fifty miles is dangerous. Why leave home for the unknown?
But, that’s the reason I want to go, to experience the unknown. I like adventure and going to Africa fits well with my personality. The Lord seems to like to call me to the unknown. I’m not always comfortable with alien cultures but I’m asking Our Lord to give me courage to face what I do not completely understand.
I’m not going on a safari. I’m going to Africa to experience the work of Catholic Relief Services in Mali. The international outreach American Catholic Church or “CRS” extends a helping hand in over a hundred countries. In Mali I expect to see clinics, schools, and agricultural projects staffed and managed by CRS workers, many of whom are locals. Because Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world, CRS has several large food dispensaries there. It will be my first experience of that kind of destitution.
By the way, I am going to try to set foot in the province of Timbuktu. I remember that
name as a fabled desert city, isolated and remote. “Timbuktu,” a place where you could simply disappear and be lost forever. These days, Timbuktu in east central Mali is said to be decaying and somewhat abandoned, a far cry from its glory days as an ancient city at the crossroads of several trade routes. Truck and plane travel move more things faster than caravans of camels.
There are ten of us going, seven pre-theology students from Mundelein seminary outside of Chicago and three priests. The young men will bring energy and a sense of freshness to the experience. I hope some of that stuff rubs off on me. You’ve got to have “the right stuff” to
be a servant minister in the priesthood. And, now that I think about it,a version of today’s horoscope could be prayed over each man as he is ordained to the priesthood. “You are going on a long journey.”