FAR AWAY PLACES WITH STRANGE SOUNDING NAMES – EMAIL FROM INDIA #1
The Diocese is sponsoring a college junior in the summer internship program of Catholic Relief Services. Brendan J. Stack, with his parents and sister Caitlin, are long time members of the Cathedral of St. Jude parish in St. Petersburg. He is a graduate of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Class of 2007, and will begin his junior year at Loyola Baltimore this Fall, except that he will be spending the year abroad studying in Cork, Ireland. He approached me during his Freshman year and expressed an interest in doing something which might be of benefit to others, more thinking of something in the Baltimore area than internationally. I was just finishing my six years as Chairman of the Board of Catholic Relief Services and I immediately thought of them and possibly Africa for a summer. In consultation with CRS personnel who run this program, a small town in India was chosen and Brendan has just finished his first week. I asked him to send reports from time to time to share with us through inclusion on this blog and you can read his first report after arriving by clicking here. Here is a photo of Brendan taken at the Cathedral on the day before his departure, ten days ago.
I asked only that Brendan share his experience with the youth of the diocese when possible upon his return and he has graciously agreed to do this as often as possible. As he relates, he is residing in a social service center and is being supervised by a partner agency of CRS in India and this location which is approximately equivalent to our Catholic Charities. Service like this involves some risks and the living situation as he will describe is radically different from anything he is used to. He is serving in an area of some religious unrest in the past and all of India is an opportunity for malaria if one does not take the proper precautions. CRS staff suggested that he get his hair cur short as Indian barber shops in his part of the country can even be somewhat risky. So I admire Brendan and other young people who wish to learn more about the needs of humanity in other places. My wonderful associate, Andrea McSorley and her husband Spencer who is head of Faith Formation at Espiritu Santo will be leaving the diocese this summer to spend three years as missionaries with the Comboni Fathers in either the African nation of Malawi or in Guatemala. I will miss her and the parish will miss Spence, but there is something wonderful about a couple still willing to take those risks to share the Gospel in far away places with strange sounding names.
I hope you will enjoy Brendan’s occasional “E-mails from India” and share the experience through the eyes and mind of a twenty year old willing to take a risk to see if he might be able to serve the Church and others. He will be at his assignment for two months and hopes to take a train to Calcutta and spend a number of days working with the Missionaries of Charity at the motherhouse and final resting place of Blessed Mother Theresa. I guarantee you that working with the Missionaries and the poor of Calcutta will wear even the healthiest person out – prayer at four am, Mass at five am, and then the poor from six to six every day. He will have a lot to share with us upon his return and through these e-mails.