I’ve heard a lot of stories about the missions. Different perspectives. Different stories. Different persons telling their own experiences. I have known and listened to many great missionaries in our province. They were so eager to tell their stories and they would usually end up inviting us to be part of the missions. They would usually say, “We are really needed in the missions!” Then, inspired by their stories, I would imagine the experience of being there in the missions. But now, thankful to God, I can now have my own experience of the missions although only for a couple of weeks. Now, I can at least tell something of my own experience about the missions.
After a half day of travel by bus, we were then welcomed by the splash of waves in our lampitaw. We arrived after a 5 hour trip from Aparri to the beautiful island of Calayan. We literally experienced a very warm welcome in Calayan! The weather was sweltering but of course the warm welcome of the people of Calayan was more fervent than the weather. The food was definitely overwhelming (as the brothers and fathers can witness with the effect on our summer bodies upon coming home from mission exposure!). The people, the food and definitely the place were all splendid! We roamed around the island and saw the beautiful sceneries and beaches! But of course, those things I have said earlier are just tips of the iceberg and are just the bonus part of being a missionary in Calayan. The true missionary experience is to see the Dominican Fathers doing their apostolate. It was really inspiring to a simple professed brother like me. As I saw the Fathers riding a kuliglig, motorcycle or a lampitaw just to celebrate Mass and the sacraments in the far areas of the island, I admired the life of our brothers and I remembered the call of Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel to all peoples. People were longing for the sacraments, they were longing for Christ in the Eucharist! Here, I also realized the need for more missionaries and for more priests! (PERSEVERE dear brothers!)
Besides the observation and seeing the apostolate of the Fathers, we also helped in giving Catecheses and talks to the Church groups in the Parish and every afternoon we talked about the Sacraments to the young members of the Legion of Mary. We gave a talk to the parish volunteers, Eucharistic ministers, lectors and CWL members. They were so eager to learn more about our faith that after we gave our prepared talk they asked us to extend and to give more talks about the Eucharist! These were the people that helped us in our mission in Calayan; they were the ones that helped us reach the areas that the Dominican Fathers could not regularly visit due to the difficulty of travel.
Indeed, missionary life is exciting! Of course, counting the perks of being a missionary in that beautiful island and also the experience of seeing the happiness and excitement of the people to attend Mass and to receive the sacraments, I can say it is worth the sacrifice of our missionaries in Calayan. Life in the mission seems to be fun and easy when you stay there for two weeks, just as we did, but thinking of it now as I write this article, it makes me realize how challenging the work of a missionary is! The life of a Dominican is a life of a missionary and we thank the people of Calayan and the Fathers there for helping us realize the beauty and fun of being a missionary of Christ! And I testify that visiting this mission station, during this early course of our formation, makes us appreciate and helps us mold our hearts into becoming a missionary. Slowly but surely, we aim to mold the heart of a missionary in us. And so, we pray for the missions and we pray for more missionaries!
By Br. Wilhelm Boñon, OP