April 20th, 2021
In God’s Providence, the mission in Guyana has given me more than I have given it. It’s just another testament to the fact that God cannot be outdone in generosity. As I have mentioned before, my stay in Guyana was never meant to exceed two weeks; 117 days later I am finally preparing to say “farewell”.
The greatest gift that God’s Providence has given me in my time here is the rediscovery of my first love: the missions. It was the experience of the missions in my teenage years that first opened my eyes and my heart to the possibility that God was calling me to the missionary life. It was the desire to be a missionary priest that called me to look beyond my own diocese for a missionary order of priests. And here it has been the lived experience of the missionary life that has reignited my love for the priesthood and my own vocation within the Religious Family.
Yet, even in the midst to thanking God for the gift I have received, I must be honest in saying that my departure is itself a cross to bear. Faith and trust alone help me to understand that I must bear it with joy. It was God’s loving will that brought me here. It was His loving will that kept me here for longer than I expected. And it is His loving will that calls be away from here. Therefore, I must end this short chronicle as I began it, with a heartfelt “thank you” to the One who orders all things well.
Nevertheless, I do not want to end without saying this to those who are still on the fence about their vocations or to those whose responsibility it is to awaken vocations: Go to the missions! As I have experienced it at a young age and rediscovered it in my own priesthood, God uses the experience of the missions to capture the hearts of those He has prepared to serve Him.
Long live Christ!
Long live the priesthood!
Long live the missions!
Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE