Our Oblates of Mary Immaculate Chaplain, Fr John David provides the following monthly reflections for you. Fr John David has also kindly provided his first Report as our Oblate – Rosies’ Chaplain. Find out more about the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
- Do you have room?, Dec 2017
“There was no room for them in the inn” (Lk2:7). Even back then there was a lack of room for Jesus. This passage of the Gospel challenges us in two ways. First it refers to the material need of having access to a safe dwelling; how would we react if someone knocked at our door asking for help? It also challenges us to reflect on the room we personally allow Jesus to dwell within us on a daily basis. In this day and age, we are constantly absorbed by technology, social media, and consumerism. How much room are we allowing Jesus and others to be present in our lives? God speaks the language of love. He calls us to be present to others. We can do so by being physically present, through prayer, or material support. I invite each one of you to share a thought, a prayer for our fellow men and women. In the Church we refer to prayer intentions as we pray for each others. It means that we remember each other to bear in mind that we are part of the same human family. We are part of the same body and, although different, we serve the same goal.
So this Christmas and over the festive season let us welcome Jesus into our hearts, into our lives. Let us think of others. Let us be a presence to others and especially the lonely.
Fr John David OMI
- Bonded together in friendship, Sept 2017
In the Gospel of John [6: 5- 11] Jesus feeds the multitude from fives loaves of bread and two small fish given by a young boy. We do not know the boy’s name or what he intends to do with his fish and loaves. He may have brought them for himself. Perhaps he intends to sell them in order to make some money. Yet when asked to share what he has he does it willingly. He agrees to give the little he has for the sake of others. Anyone can contribute to the common good. Just like this boy did an act of kindness or generosity makes a difference regardless how small or big it is. Rosies gathers people from all walks of life. All gather to share friendship on the street. It might seem insignificant, just like two fish and five loaves. One might think how can this improve the lives of many? It might seem futile. Well, that is if we take for granted there will always be someone who will listen. Someone with whom a genuine conversation can start. Not everyone can enjoy a ‘presence’. How long can I remain in silence or alone? How do I feel when I am ignored or consciously put aside? Would it hurt me if people avoided eye contact with me? Loneliness lives in our world, in our cities, among us. As little as it sounds, Rosies volunteers put aside their differences and go out together as a team. No one being greater than another as we all need each other. We go on the street first of all to share friendship, to listen and to respect our neighbours. I see teams with strong bonds and it reflects on their time spent on the street.
Outreaches gather different people who share the desire to be together – patrons and volunteers alike. And together we make a difference.
- Bonded together in friendship, Sept 2017
Fr John David OMI
A life of giving and receiving is beautiful, Jun 2017
Each day, each hour, each single minute is unique. Time flows and will not repeat itself ever again. Life is precious. Avoid fights and anger, but speak with love to everyone. This is what Psalm 23.1 is telling us. Life is meaningful while spent in loving self, others, and God. Life is nourished by putting oneself at the service
Outreaches help me realise how much is achieved through love of neighbours while bringing the Good News to everyone. I believe love is the only way a person can change for the best. We all need love. Not that we love others to change them. But by loving others we are changed at the same time. Sometimes our own improvements can inspire others to follow a similar path. We are all constantly work in progress.
As it is said in the Bible ‘A person can have no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ As members of Rosies we play various roles to share our love on outreach. But have we considered how much we receive out of it? What do we see through the people we serve? There is something mystical in each and every encounter we make. We can see good in people. We can see Christ through them. We can feel humbled or astonished by people’s generosity and kindness despite the very little material possessions they own.
We experience the highest expression of power as a person when we give and receive ourselves in love. I believe that the mutual sharing of love could be time, talent, counsel, tears, a word, an embrace, coffee, tea, milo… What we share with each other in love on outreach is truly valuable and precious. By giving and receiving we recognise ourselves as valuable, worthwhile and good. When we give in love, we share a sense of dignity and personal worth. Love brings a sense of belonging to our communities, especially for those in most need.
Fr John David OMI
- 30 years ago…, Mar 2017
30 years ago the first Rosies mission to the Gold Coast was established. Since then the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Iona College have supported Rosies spiritually, financially, and practically. It is my privilege to have followed a line of dynamic and capable chaplains. I am inspired by the work of Rosies and the commitment and joy of its volunteers.
Having been on outreach a number of times per week across Queensland over the last two years, I am conscious of how God weaves his presence through the sharing of friendship that is the mission of Rosies. God’s presence is one of hope.
Last month I was alerted to the sad death of Steve, 47 years old, who had been a patron for some period of his life. Steve seems to have come into the Rosies family and then gone, without leaving a footprint, but as is always the case with our patrons, he made friends. Steve’s parents commented that he “regularly ‘turned up’ for meals … sometimes barbeques, tea and coffee, etc which were provided by Rosies in such a caring, non-judgmental way.”
In their sorrow Steve’s family and friends have reached out by supporting Rosies so that others may be assisted. We share in the hope of eternal life for Steve and pray for his family and friends.
Fr John David OMI
- A glass of milk, Dec 2016
One day, a boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one gold coin left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water! She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, How much do I owe you?” You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.” He said … “Then I thank you from my heart.”
As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man also increased.
Many years later that same young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Howard Kelly, now a doctor, was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he immediately rose and went down to her room. He recognised her immediately as the kind woman who gave him a glass of milk so long ago. and was determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to her case. After a long struggle, the battle was won.
Dr Kelly requested the business office pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, and then wrote something on the edge and sent the bill to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and read on the side of the bill: “Paid in full with one glass of milk” (Signed) Dr Howard Kelly.
Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed… ‘Thank You, God, that your love has spread broad through human hearts and hands’.
The good deed you do today may benefit you, or someone you love, at the least expected time. If you never see the deed again at least you will have made the world a better place – and, after all, isn’t that what life is all about?
Now you have a choice too, so please make a difference this Christmas. Bless you all.
- Bring sunshine into others’ lives, Oct 2016
Fr. James Keller, founder of the famous Christopher Letters, cites an incident in his book ‘You can change the World’.There was a young girl who was weakened by a series of epileptic attacks; her condition weakened to such an extent that she needed hospitalization. Lying on her bed hour upon weary hours, she had plenty of time to think about her future. She felt sorry for herself. But after sometime self-pity became tiresome. Looking around for something different to occupy her time, she got an idea. Perhaps, if she tried to forget about her own troubles and tried to help others first, then her own troubles might seem less important, less hopeless. She began to write articles in the town’s newspaper asking people to concentrate on the good things in life, instead of always doing just the opposite. Within three or four weeks after the column appeared, letters began pouring in, thanking her, giving her a mental ‘pat on the back’ for what she was trying to do. From that very first day on this same girl had rarely suffered another attack of epilepsy. In thinking about somebody’s problems, her own had vanished. In lighting candles in the lives of others, she found that her own darkness had disappeared.In the scripture, Jesus makes an amazingly paradoxical statement: “He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for my sake will find it(Mt: 10:39)”. Jesus always advocated that it is better to burn out than to rust out in life. Life is always enhanced and made meaningful when it is spent, and not when it is hoarded selfishly.By spending our lives for the others we enhance our own. In the Old Testament, the Shunammite woman, forgetting her own woes of not having a son, provided meals and shelter for the man of God prophet Elisha. Looking at her altruistic attitude, prophet Elisha blessed her with a child (2Kings: 4: 8-16). Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap…..(Lk: 6:38)”. Human generosity will always be rewarded with the divine superabundance.Hoarding anything selfishly is always counterproductive.
If water is hoarded, it soon breeds germs and diseases;
If clothes are hoarded, insects soon eat them;
If money is hoarded, it is soon lost or enjoyed by others;
If life is hoarded, it gets lost.There was a famous preacher called Christmas Evans, who was always on the move preaching Christ. He tirelessly went from place to place preaching the Good News of Christ. His continuous travelling began to take a toll on his health. His friends advised him to take things lightly, and a little easy. His answer always was: “it is better to burn out than to rust out”.Our beloved founder and father St. Eugene said, “Called by my vocation to be the servant and priest of humanity, especially of the poor, to whose service I would like to be able to devote my whole life” (Lenten Homily, March 28, 1813). Then we also recall his beautiful words from his retreat notes in 1816. “I must, above all, become really convinced that I am doing the will of God by devoting myself to the service of my neighbour….. and then I must do my best, without worrying if, in doing work of this kind, I am unable to do other things which I would perhaps find more to my taste and which would seem more adapted to my own sanctification. If, at some time when I feel attracted to contemplate the mercies of Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrament, and I am called upon to do a work of charity, I must, without murmur or regret, leave the presence of Our Lord to perform this duty imposed upon me by his will….”.Life lost for a good cause is life gained;
Life spent for a good purpose is life preserved.
We should put this question to ourselves: “Are we burning out or rusting out?”
- A light in the night , Sep 2016
At the recent World Youth Day in Krakow the Pope addressed young people asking them to become the ‘hope for the future’. He challenged them in two ways. Firstly, he asked them to engage with their elders by listening to their real or mythical stories. Parents and other older people have great wisdom to share. All we need is to spend time listening, and asking. The Pope then encouraged them to have the courage to make a difference in the world by getting actively involved in our society.
Let us reflect on our mission as we prepare for Schoolies. Rosies offers a presence, and gives an ear to our friends on the street. We listen with an open heart. Whether it is at Schoolies, on the street, in courts, or detention centre we engage with them. The people we meet have the courage to be who they are and brave enough to share their stories with us. Courage is also what it takes to commit. Our volunteers are committed to go out regularly and meet with our many friends on the street regardless of the temperature or the weather. Rosies has been committed to come and offer our presence to the many teenagers as part of the Safety Program at the Gold Coast Schoolies week for nearly thirty years. Persistence and patience are wonderful virtues, I witness on outreach.
- True humility, August 2016
“It is good to be always available to serve one’s neighbour, but this service has become a real slavery” (Retreat Notes, December 1814) St. Eugene de Mazenod
I realise that in every aspect of human life Spirituality is linked to the people with whom we share, serve, and live our lives. As for me, one of the best ways to be connected with people on the street is “TRUE HUMILITY”. Humility is the foundation of all other virtues as it enables us to see and judge correctly. It enables us to see the way God sees. I seize the importance of Humility in life as I meet with our volunteers and friends on the street across Queensland. It is truth in self-understanding and truth in action. Humility frees us to love and serve others willingly and selflessly, for their own sake rather that one’s. A truly humble person looks at oneself neither smaller nor bigger than he or she truly is. True humility allows us to be ourselves,. It leads us to be who we are in God’s eyes. It permits us to avoid falling into despair or pride. Yes, humility challenges me to be a person of “Daring to Love and Serve other” at any cost of my life.
- A Human heart, May 2016
I take part in as many Rosies outreaches as I possibly can. I am astonished to see so much generosity and goodwill from participants. How beautiful to see the warm hearts at work! How beautiful it is to see such willingness from everyone to set up a peaceful venue where all of us can meet, talk, and share our stories, challenges, and happiness in life. This is the face of mercy. People who gather at an outreach come from such a variety of backgrounds. I am actually amazed to even see how diverse our team of volunteers are. Some might be business owners, others bakers, cooks, or university students. It does not matter once they team up under the same Rosies T-shirt and equally support one other.The human heart is made to love and mercy is the expression of this love. Mercy reveals itself once the person disregards what sets him or her apart from a brother or sister and looks sincerely into the eyes of this other person. Mercy relies on understanding, patience, and compassion.
Rosies outreaches are a perfect way to put our mercy into practice. One can meet a perfect stranger, and yet give this person the time to listen; the time to talk. It is about acknowledging a person for who he or she is, a human being. This contributes to bringing one’s dignity back.
- A Human heart, May 2016
- 30 years ago…, Mar 2017
Fr John David OMI
- A time to renew our love for one another, March 2016
Domestic and family violence is most unfortunately a pervasive community issue that can affect anyone regardless of their social, economic, or cultural group – it does not discriminate. It often consumes families from the inside. St Eugene de Mazenod – our Oblate of Mary Immaculate founder – is in fact the patron saint of families in need. Rosies is a Ministry of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Originally part of the French nobility, St Eugene’s family fled France during the Revolution. Hit by financial distress and the instability of a refugee life the de Mazenod family was torn apart. As a result of his experience, St Eugene dedicated his life to those without the support of their families and especially the poorest of the poor.
The Oblates celebrate 200 years of St Eugene’s charism and daring this year. We invite you to celebrate too. Easter is also a time of renewal, a time of compassion and of understanding. We are invited at this time to reflect on our family lives. As Pope Francis asks us to ponder “In my home, do we yell, or do we speak with love and tenderness? This is a good way to recognise our love.”.
- Having new eyes, December 2015
We are invited over Christmas, more than ever, to spare a thought, a prayer, or even a visit to our neighbour who will spend Christmas alone. According to Marcel Proust ‘the real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscape but having new eyes’. Let us adopt a different attitude towards our brothers and sisters. Let us look at them beyond the surface and misleading appearances. Christmas is a time of hope and compassion. Let us value our neighbours for who they truly are and we will find Jesus Christ dwelling in them.I thank all of you who support Rosies. Whether you give time, money, or in-kind donations, you all make a difference. Rosies is a living community and you are part of it. I wish you all and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
- Let’s Open Our Heart, September 2015
We make assumptions based on our own knowledge. Yet, if we take the time to listen to people with our heart we can appreciate them for who they truly are. All of us are gifted, but our individual talents are not always obvious; most treasures are hidden. God’s creation is diverse and unique, which makes it beautiful and inspiring rather than monotone and dull. God values us for who we are and we are invited to imitate Him. We are encouraged to value each other for our uniqueness. Let us appreciate the diversity God put in His creation and go beyond our presumptions to discover who a person really is through understanding and charity.
Fr John David OMI