Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Christmas in Uganda

Br Russell Ward is studying to be a missionary priest with the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, CT. He tells a touching story about his little brother, Nate, on the Regnum Christi website. The story resonates with me on several levels. When I was a child I wanted to be a missionary in Nigeria. I ended up serving as a Legionary in Mexico and, for a few years, in the United States. Before leaving the Legion, I went to Gabon in Central West Africa on a one-way ticket. During my twenty years in the Legion I visited with my parents for no more than twenty days. I am glad the Legion is easing the family-visitation restrictions. I wish Nate were around when I was a Legionary! I have paraphrased the original:

"My family came to visit me for a few days one summer. After Mass one morning, all the brothers were walking out of the chapel, and Nate was pointing at a few of them and asking me who they were. He pointed to the only African brother in our community, Br Otti Okello from Uganda, and asked me who he was. “That’s Br Otti Okello,” I said. “He’s from Africa.” “That’s far away isn’t it?” he asked. “Yeah, pretty far away.” “Does he ever get to go home like you?” “Well, he hasn’t been home for a long time. I think it costs a lot of money to fly to Africa.”

“I can get the money for him,” Nate replied.

“I don’t know, Nate. That is a lot of money.”

“How much?”

“Maybe around a thousand dollars.”

“I think I can get it.”

That was the end of our short discussion, and the visit with my family went on. By the time they left, I had forgotten entirely about the conversation with Nate.

After he had the money, my family asked me what to do; I had little clue what to do next. I told them to get in touch with Br Otti’s superiors since he had moved on to the center of philosophy in New York. That is what they did, and after a month or so Br Otti gave me a call. “Br Russell, I hear your little brother has done something amazing for me.”

“Yeah. Can you believe that? I don’t know how he did it, but are you going to be able to go home?”

“Of course. I will be visiting for a couple of weeks in December. You know, I always loved to study physics, but I wished I had studied better the art of practical physics which your Nate has mastered, that is, the physics of charity.”

Br Otti went home for his family visit before Christmas."

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