We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things. — 1 Cor. 4:10-13
Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien was here in Omaha to celebrate Mass for the Institute. At the end of Mass he shared with us two quotes that knocked my socks off. All of us here on faculty and staff pursued him until he shared them with us. Feast!
The first quote was from early 20th American century co-founder of the Maryknoll priests, Bishop James E. Walsh, who was later made a missionary bishop in China. Here he succinctly described the heart of an evangelizing Christian:
The task of a missioner is to go to the place where he is not wanted, to sell a pearl whose value, although of great price, is not recognized, to people who are determined not to accept it, even as a gift.
The second quote was taken from a note sent by Bishop Louis William Valentine Dubourg to seminaries throughout France. Bishop Dubourg, who was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Louisiana and the Two Floridas in 1812, was looking for men who were willing to come to America to serve as missionary priests. Their role would be to establish new parishes and serve the French speaking immigrant Catholics in the region. As you read this “job description” and “benefits package” for priests, I want you to imagine what kind of priestly-hearted men accepted this invitation to come to America. “The men who responded,” Cardinal O’Brien said, “are the men of character we need in the priesthood of Jesus Christ”:
We offer you: no salary, no recompense, no holidays, no pension. But much hard work, a poor dwelling, few consolations, many disappointments, frequent sickness, a violent or lonely death, an unknown grave.
And the Cardinal added, “And they came!”