When I started working for the Irish Jesuit Missions (IJM) 12 years ago, I thought I would never be able to remember all the different people and the exotic sounding names of the places where they worked.
Communications were usually by email and I would get a friendly note asking me to arrange to send out medication or small domestic items they couldn’t get locally. In this way I got to know our missionary men abroad. It was always lovely to welcome them into the Mission office for tea and chat when they came back and to make sure all was arranged for their time home in Ireland.
Being in contact with our missionaries for so long has brought an extra dimension to my life and added to it in a very positive way. While it took a while to get to know some of the men, I found that beneath a serious and sometimes intimidating exterior was someone who was kind, highly intelligent and usually with a great sense of humour. I see at close quarters how willing they are to give their whole lives to others, not in an obvious way but in a gentle, matter of fact way. I have great respect for them because they practice what they preach. They have lived so closely with ordinary people and not in ivory towers. From my observations, missionaries are very much immersed in the real world.
No ““agenda” except to be of help to others
When I first came to work at the IJM it was just another job. But I soon found a very different ethos and feeling about the office and in the people I was working with. Over the years I have been privileged to meet some really wonderful people, those I work with and the missionaries who returned for holidays and sabbaticals.
The work of the IJM has changed over the last few years and has expanded with more focus on projects, communications and volunteers. Many of our men have passed away doing the work they loved or have come back to Ireland to retire.
In a world where bad news abounds and with the media constantly relaying negativity, it is wonderful to be in contact with people of amazing spirituality who have no ““agenda” except to be of help and who in turn inspire others to do good. I will always be glad that I found this very special place to work.