One of the joys of my recent visit to the south of Spain with two colleagues was a trip we made into the region of Extremadura which lies to the west of Spain on the Portuguese border. It has two provinces – Cáceres and Badajoz.
Forty years ago this year I was despatched by Bishop Lucey to Badajoz to do part of my training for the priesthood there. That’s where my liking for Spain and my love of its people began! I was treated as one of their own by my fellow students and staff. During long weekends off, my classmates took me to their homes where their families opened their homes and hearts to me.
I enjoyed several visits to Hornachos, the hometown of one of my classmates and room-mate. His name is Nemesio and he now ministers in the mission fields of Zimbabwe as a priest.
While visiting his parents last week in the company of two of my colleagues who have served in Peru, our diocesan mission, I got a new appreciation of the hardship and sacrifice of the families of missionary priests and sisters. It is especially difficult as a parent gets older to not be sure when their son can come home again for a visit. But instead of complaining, Nemesio’s parents and sisters have become an extension of his missionary work fundraising in their community for badly needed equipment and services which they pay for in Zimbabwe.
I was blessed to be able to spent time with them again and to renew my gratitude for their kindnesses to me so many years ago.
El tiempo que pasé estudiando en España ha sido uno do los dones de Dios en mi vida. Gracias, también, a la gente que me aceptó como si fuera familia. Sí, somos todos familia de Dios.