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By Fr. Michael Tomaszewski, Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea
Ever since his years in the Divine Word Missionaries Overseas Training Program (while still several years away from ordination), I had wanted to return to Papua New Guinea and work with the many people I had come to know and love in this far-flung mission. The bike, a very thoughtful gift, would come in handy, facilitating getting around to my many parishioners.
It had been a long journey to arrive at the mission I love. I was born and raised in Poland and trained as a member of the Society in my native land, but I finished my college studies in the United States of America at Divine Word College in Epworth, Iowa. I completed the necessary class work in Scripture and Theology at the Theological Union in Chicago.
There have been many other gifts and blessings in my seminary life. There was always, of course the gift of God's grace and light and Spirit on the spiritual side. In helping me to become like a candle helping to light the darkness of a very troubled world. Yes, we have all received light and grace from God, and each of us are to respond to that light as the Spirit moves us. These are the daily gifts of God's motivating Spirit.
I reflect on one special gift I received at Christmas in 2019 at a party of SVD confreres in PNG – a small but powerful gift, a simple compliment.
After five years in parish work I had been appointed to serve as a formator in our seminary at Divine Word College in Bomana near Port Morsby, PNG, helping young men discern their calling to be missionary priests and brothers.
So what was the gift that meant so much?
At the party, each of us were to bring a small, wrapped gift for a "Secret Friend". On the package was to be written a few words describing the person for whom the gift was intended. The gift I received was small but the description for me was great. The last words on it were: "A MOTIVATOR!" I have kept that word not only in my heart but also that wrapping with its special words on display in my room as a reminder of what I must be as a Divine Word Missionary.
I am now the novice master for four young men who are learning what it means to be a Divine Word Missionary. These men, without realizing it have given me yet another gift, a gift of light and joy. For some reason early in their novitiate year they gave their group a nickname. They call themselves the Sunlights of Serenity. They want to become people who serve as priests and religious lights in the darkness of our world. It is true, each of us are constantly called to be instrument of God's light, of God's grace, of God's love. Yes, there is so much for which to be thankful, the many gifts and inspiration given to each of us.
My daily life is filled with gratitude for all that I have received from friends, benefactors and confreres – so many who have made my life as Divine Word Missionary so productive in bringing the light of God's grace to the darkness of sin and night unbelief to a world in need of healing and peace.
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