While at St. Michael's Parish in Ridgetown, Ontario, Father Sam wrote from time to time an article for the local newspaper. In this one, he shares about his trips to Columbia, and being with the poor. Unfortunately, I was unable to reproduce the pictures that form part of the article, as what I have is a photocopy. Father Sam describes them somewhat in what follows, and they are graphic images of poverty.
In 1972 Don and Bonnie Stucklees, missionaries in Columbia SA., although I had never met them before, invited me to visit with them in Bogota. Reluctantly, I accepted. Bonnie's mother and three others made that first pilgrimage to the poor, an experience I shall never forget. It has led to other visits for myself and about 200 others. On March 16th, two others and myself will leave for my 19th journey south. Through the Stucklees family I met Padre Fernando Umana, a friend of Don and Bonnie. Fernando has established a retreat centre outside Zipaquira, 8,500 feet above sea level on the plateau of the mountain. To describe Fernando and the work of God through him would require pages that are not possible within this column of the Independent News. I am thankful, for these weekly articles from the Ridgetown and District Ministerial Association.
Someone once asked me it I would like to travel to the Holy Land. My reply was, "Not really. I would rather go to where Jesus is rather than where He once was." GOD IS WITH THE POOR in a very special way, and He wants us to be with them as well. The accompanying pictures are tow of my favourite snaps from former visits to Columbia. Notice that the little girl's shoes are too small. The child in the box is resting in the median of a four-lane highway in Bogota. At the retreat centre Fernando is housing 26 orphan girls. They live in the school, which he wants to use for education. Group homes for them were started, but no work has been doen to finish them for lack of funds. Hopefully, many from St. Michael's will respond to my urgent requests for help. We won't refuse help from anyone. Our God loves the poor, and he loves us too. He has special blessings for those who minister to them. It should be no wonder then that we find so much fulfillment and joy because of our journey south.
In Matthew's gospel, chapter 25, Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you to unto me." May God be with us as we heed these words and take care of everyone at our home here on Planet Earth.
Father Sam is on his way there again shortly, not for the 19th time, but for about the 38th, I believe. God Bless You, Father Sam.