Sharing the Graces of Reading
"They Come Back Singing"

Holy Week














































































































This holy week has been the most grace filled of my entire life! The faith and witness of these wonderful refugee people has given me a deep longing to imitate them. Their trust in God amidst the most deplorable conditions has encouraged me to trust God in a way that I couldn’t 6 weeks ago. I fasted during this week and each time I felt hunger pains, I remembered my new refugee friends. Though my temporary hunger couldn’t compare with their constant deprivation of food, I felt a solidarity with them.

I believe the Spirit is leading me to be with the bereaved members of my parish community. I have learned a great deal about suffering from these refugees and hope that I can be a healing presence of Christ to those around me who are suffering in spirit.

Rita, Allentown PA USA

These last six weeks have been a gift. Initially I spoke about the fact that I was retiring as a chaplain in our cancer center and would be a volunteer there. This is true for now but after spending these six weeks with the refugees in Uganda and the Sudan I would say I remain open to the surprises of the Lord.

I was touched by Gary's provincial coming all that distance to see him and going with him to visit the various camps and meeting the catechists. Listening to their statements of faith in the midst of exile. I know that Gary was proud of John and the sharing that went on. I was proud of both of them and so humbled by the faith of the refugees. Gary has certainly been enriched and humbled by his time with the refugees as have I in this journey with him. It has indeed changed me in ways I may not be aware of now but I will be in the months ahead.

Thank you Gary and Creighton for providing this spiritual journey for the group of us that had the privilege of this journey. I am sure each of us has been touched and changed by this experience. Again, thank you

Margaret, RSM from Fort Lauderdale

"You have been a wonderful companion..." during this Lenten season as I enter into the celebration of Easter. Not much has drastically changed - just the renewed sense that I am not alone on this journey. The suffering around me and in the world becomes a journey in which my God has chosen to live. This I MUST remember. Now all I need is the courage to continue to believe and live this TRUTH.

Ann Z. Philadelphia, PA

"We lived and ate together,we talked and prayed together,we laughed and wept together" wrote Fr. Gary.
I think that I did the same with all people who took part in this reading group. We lived our lives for six weeks united with refugees in the same spirit of company and unity in Jesus. I experienced what it means to be gathered in love. Also, I know that without your support, my friend-readers, your prayers, your constant presence, I will never reach these moments of entering Easter. Your company made me well.

And I think that I have to be grateful to St.Ignatius of Loyola for this unique gift. I prayed to him every time I opened this book to face things with courage and to endure my journey.

There were many points in this book where I found comfort, but when I look back I found myself cought by two - cross and love. It was revelation to me in Fr. Gary's book how cross and love perfectly go together, and I was attracted to that new image more and more.
It's not a problem to find beauty in love, but it seemed little harder for me to find the same beauty in sickness, rejection, suffering, injustice, to be helpless, in tears of pain, in agony, in loss. And I was graced to discover that all this fit with Jesus' way of accomplishing things. I found great intimacy of love in the cross of Jesus.
"The future will be a response to this truth," said Fr. Gary in "'Afterword." I agree. I will respond. And I'm not afraid anymore.

I have one decision now - to pray in my own words to St. Francis Xavier daily for Jesuits in missions and for all Jesuits around the world, or better to say "Those Damn Jesuits" ? ;-) as the title of chapter suggests.
Well,our 'mission' is ended. We read how Fr. Gary was struggling to say 'Goodbye' to Sudanese he loved and spent time. Once he wrote "God's Sweet Gift: My memories are like a sacred litany, like my own psalm that I can alwyas pray to God."

Of course, I will miss you. And I hope to fulfill many new missions with this new strength I got from you.
But, I also believe that one day, when we finish our work, we will find each other again in the place which
Jesus' cross and love made possible to be.

I love you and love you all,

Ivana K. ,Serbia

I do not belong to a brotherhood, such as the Jesuits. I am a mom, grandma, x-ray tech, singer, traveler and the list goes on. I have never lived in mission for longer than two months. I have only been able to taste the cultures of this world, but never simmer long enough in their juices. Yet my life has been colored by Africa, too.

There is so much life in the swaying and singing of a church procession. Mass is the highlight of the day, of the week, of the month. Any occasion is ripe for celebration. All come dressed in the brightest colors, a beautiful contrast to the golden landscape. Poverty, hunger, war and disease all fall away in the warm smiles. And each smile says welcome, we are so happy that you are here with us.

I am so happy to have shared my Africa with you. During my last trip to Africa, my daughter-in-law redid my bedroom in an entirely African motif. So I do rest in Africa each night. Amen

Nancy, Kimberly Wisconsin


Our enthusiastically, joyful "Hosanna" entrance into the Psalm Sunday service gave me a conscious feeling of connectedness with the Universal church, for the first time (although I have traveled widely and attended various services throughout the world) in my life. I know that Fr. Gary's descriptions of the people's joyously, active praise and my recent attendance at a concert given by a children's chorus from Africa heightened my awareness and sensitivity. It was a most blessed beginning of Holy Week for me!

As I travel through Holy Week; their long, patient, suffering; their trust in the Lord; their joyous, prayerful gratitude will knock on my mind and heart and cause me to pause -picture them, and hold them in my heart during our services and celebrations! I pray that this vision will remain with me for it gives me hope for the future of our church. " The Spirit leads wherever the children of God are in deeper need."(P219)

I have no idea where the Spirit will lead me, I only pray for the strength and courage to listen and trust.

Thank you for offering this lenten opportunity!

PGR, Green Cove Springs, FL. USA

If I had read a story like the confrontation between Julieta and Osura, in the context of contemporary U.S. society, I would not give them much of a chance of preserving their marriage. The rest of the story would read: Osura went on the wagon for a month, but started drinking again. Because he had been exposed in public, he was more angry with Julieta than ever. He beat her more often and more severely. Finally she fled, with the youngest children, to a shelter for battered women and got a “protection from abuse” decree from the police. My fellow North Americans, does that sound familiar?

But in the context in which these events actually occurred, I believe there is real hope that they can renew their love and “forgive forever.” The difference is the quality of the community that surrounds them, embodied in the elders to whom Julieta appeals. Their community does not come into existence at this moment, but is already there -- demonstrated by the immediate sense each participant has of his responsibility. The only person surprised by the honesty and depth of the encounter (besides me, the reader), is Gary Smith. I am challenged by this event. In my culture, I think we are encouraged to give up too easily on relationships and to run away from conflict.

I’m writing this on Holy Thursday, and the call to persevere through conflict and tension in loving those I have been given is quite apropos.

Betsy from Philadelphia, US

I was deeply moved by the honesty and forthrightousness of the woman confronting her husband within the community of the church. How they reaffirmed their love for one another. When we love another, we will forgive them anything precisely because we do love them. God forgives me because he loves me. I can not earn His love, I do not deserve His love. But I know that he is my Beloved and I am His.
These series of readings have awakened in me all of the good byes that I have said as I have traveled along this life's journey. Some good byes are forever, like Gary knowing that he will not come this way again. Those are sad moments but I know that he must, as I do, cherish those movements and events in my memory and heart. Although we will not cross paths in this life, they are always with me as gifts, whenever I chose to reflect and recall them.

The Sudanese also are on a journey, some for 15 years but their hope is that they will go back home in the future. Hope is hope in the future and a vision that it will become a living reality. Their hope of returning to Sudan is different from Gary's hope of returning to Africa. Both are returning from whence they came, their home, although on 2 different continents.

As I have come and gone through various events and places, I find that it is true that you can not go back to what was. Both have changed. The events and people that I left have changed without my being part of the experience and I too have lived different experiences that have made me a different person. I have come to realize that where I go from here can not be back to something familiar but must be a continuation of the journey. I have to have hope and faith that I am being led and that I will not be betrayed nor toil in vain.
I continue to pray for the grace of discernment.

Carol Burlington MA USA

I began this Lenten journey envying Fr. Gary who is clear on what God is calling him to do. I end envying him because he was able to do, with joy and love, what he needed to do. I am sure he will continue to do what needs to be done with the same zeal if not more.

God planned for me to have this opportunity to read Fr. Gary’s book and in particular, in this guided way. Truly, Genty and Pasqualina will forever be in my heart and in my prayers as I continue to pray for the many others now with them in the Lord’s bosom and still those they have left behind. Likewise, I will continue to pray for Osama Bin Ladin, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army. At the Easter Vigil this year, I look forward to specially remembering all of them as the minister says “The Body of Christ” and I say “Amen”…Yes, we are all part of Your Body, Lord, bruised and broken for each of us.

The refugees are all far from me that I can only be one with them through the Eucharist. Sending a check over to the Jesuit Refugee Service would be good too. But, beyond that, I am reminded that I am near to other parts of the Body of Christ. With the Spirit’s guidance, may I start Easter week discerning the place, the time and the means to “confront the heart of darkness with the heart of God.”

Menchie in California

I am so grateful for what has been a very deeply touching Lenten journey. Thanks to Andy and Maureen and Creighton for this invitation. I am grateful to all the others who have shared their response, too. Each person has brought something helpful thoughtful, and insightful. I was especially glad to see Ivana had received the book and that she is doing fine.

I love that Gary names many catechists and friends, each by name, as they celebrate him and his generosity and love. Way back before I got the book, I hesitated because unusual names seem to muddle my mind. I am grateful to have taken the time to read slowly and consistently over these weeks; not my usual speeding through a book when I do get the chance to read. I read each name slowly, aloud...a litany of amazing people who graced Gary, and me, too. My heart stirred at Gary's gracious acceptance of the love and the gifts from the people. I realize my lack in this area. I had lost my voice, these past few years, in a jumble of confusion and brokenness, I have not been able to see clearly, felt unmoored form the dock of faith and community. Entering Holy Week, I have a grace I wasn't fully aware I needed, that of accepting Christ's gift for me with an open heart.

This Lenten journey has been grueling for me in some surprising ways. My emotions have run deep at the devastation, from sadness to outrage at how the injustices, hunger, griefs that have been thrust upon my brothers and sisters. My perspectives have been widened, sometimes feeling guilt for taking much for granted, but more so feeling a call to be more responsible here, in my small corner of the world, to live more simply, to care for myself, so that perhaps what I have to offer will be given generously and freely.

As I review these Lenten weeks, I notice my own heart longing to be more generous. It is hard, and I overthink, trying to juggle the needs of five children, trying to figure how to set priorities on giving. I am learning it's a matter of heart and mind together; even more, a matter of trust in God's love. I have figuratively and humbly seen the widow give her coins many times throughout the journal. I have also been humbled by the joys I have witnessed - true joy has little to do with mere happiness. "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?" (Khalil Gibran) The joys of the refugees show the truth of this quote. The singing, dancing, ululating, the expression of finding a lost brother will remain in my heart, too, and I will hold them with praise and thanksgiving.

I can't go into every way this book has moved me. I have committed to organizing a group from my parish to go and learn about the local, inner city, invisible poor. And to working with some children to prepare for their First Eucharist. I trudge along in the mystery of my own life. A line phrase from the Eucharistic prayer has stood out for me each Mass: "We are filled with wonder and praise when we see what you do for us through your Son, Jesus Christ." I do know that I will be present with this Holy Week, and allow the mystery to encircle my soul, trusting that I, too, will follow the tug of my heart.

Blessings, Susan in KY

“She was present in a situation that would have broken most human beings and hurled them into a paroxysm of self-pity.” Pasqualina was about to die from AIDS, her husband, who infected her, and her two children have already died from it. Yet, “Her thoughts at that moment were on God, her mother, her daughter, and me.”

How I so pray for the grace to be like Pasqualina at my death bed. Oh, I am such a complainer. When I was told I probably had lymphoma way over a decade ago, I asked our Lord to spare me. In 2005, doctors took out some cells from my breast and I am fine now. Yet, I always profess how my threshold of pain is so low rather than being quiet and enduring everything in union with the suffering of our Lord on the cross!

God has given me so many chances. He has forgiven me time and again. As this Lenten journey nears its end, I have come to appreciate and recognize more deeply His love and mercy that have sustained me all these years. I notice I catch myself right away when I say or do something not pleasing to our Lord and immediately ask for His forgiveness. And, knowing that I am forgiven precisely because of what we will be celebrating this Holy Week is awesome. Yes, Lord, thank You! Thank You for being so patient with me!

Menchie in California

As Holy Week begins I find that I am full of different emotions. Lent seems to be drawing to a close more quickly this year than any other. I have found it difficult to put my feelings down on paper this week (in fact, this posting is late). I know from experience that life is full of "hellos" and "goodbyes" and no matter which side one is on (staying or leaving) there are deep feelings involved.
I feel as though I am present physically in each place that Gary visits for the last time and my tears flow along with his and those of his people.
As I read about the different final meetings with the catechists the one thing that stood out above all others is the amount of self-sacrificial giving that each of them brings to their daily activities. They know that the church in their villages is largely dependent on them and they know that the church in the "NEW" Sudan will grow and prosper only in proportion to their efforts and sacrifices. The Church has been taken over by the native people and will grow and prosper because of the training and relinquishment of their teachers - the Jesuits and other religious congregations who served with that goal in mind.

I read the sharing of the marital problems of Osura and Julieta with Fr Gary and Wurubi, Dima and Eyio with astonishment and admiration. Coming as I do from an Irish background I recall admonishments from my grandmother that "we do not wash our linens in public". What a lost opportunity for sharing in a larger community that mindset is! I wonder what trepidation Julieta felt as she waited for her opportunity to bring her concerns to the elders. By being able to do so ..... and by the assumption of the role of elders by the others one could see the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Rose Adoo represents all the students that received a secondary education through the assistance of Gary and the JRS. She also is representative of the deep gratitude and awareness of these students that their lives would be totally different if not for the help they received. When I see pictures of girls from Africa and other third world countries in brochures asking for help I feel as though I know what they are asking for ........... the price of a dinner and movie totally change their future.

This Lent has changed me and I pray that this change is permanent. I want to be always aware of the larger church and the interconnectedness of all of us. I want to pray as a member of this church always aware of the breath and depth of this larger church. I want to be on the side of those who saw Christ and served him in the thirsty and hungry and the widow and the orphan. I pray for all of us who undertook this journey because we wanted a "different" Lent ...that we make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters who just want to love and be loved and who have learned the basic truths of Eucharist and giving of self.
Peace and love to us all.

Mo, Mills River, NC

I was sorry when I reached the last chapter of "They Came Back Singing" but then I realized that I can add many new friends to my prayer list. At the top of the list is Father Gary. It was so inspiring to follow him from his arrival in Kenya to his work with the refugees and finally Father John's visit followed by the conclusion of his work in Uganda and then home. We learn so much from people of different cultures if we just open our minds and hearts to them. Father Gary seemed to communicate love and respect to the people he came in contact with and they responded in a like-manner. I began to look at my culture and way of life differently. Things that are "absolute necessities" are not available in other cultures and people survive and are happy as we are. When people do not have a lot of things, they are able to focus in what is important. Of course, they must have the basics. I would be happy to join the Jesuit plotters mentioned by Father Gary at the end of "Those Damn Jesuits".

It is not surprising that Father Gary sees his own culture in a different light. It must have been a shock to walk into an American supermarket again after his time in Africa. When we look of all that is wasted in this country and then think of those woh could use it. There are so many "gotta haves" in this country and there are so many unhappy people. We need to change our focus from having to listening to God's messages to us. What we are searching for is God and the people of They Came Back Singing seem to found Him.

Someone, a number of years ago said that if the Church survives, it will be theour the Church in Africa. From Father Gary's writings, I think the Holy Spirit has been stirring in Africa and the waves of that stirring will reach us in America soon, I pray.
Mary from Joliet, IL, USA

Psalm Sunday 2008

“In the presence of such fierce heart talk, words seemed superfluous and dumb” (199). Abuna Gary reacts here to Rose Adoo’s expression of gratitude for her education and chance of a good life. This sentence appeals so much to me as I try to assess how reading this book during Lent has affected me. Meeting the people to whom Gary ministered, and who ministered to him, is an overwhelming experience. It will take me much longer than forty days to integrate the wisdom in these pages into my own life vision. Maybe even “vision” is the wrong word, a “superfluous and dumb” word. I want to learn what Abuna Gary learned in my heart, not in my mind where I have always gone with words to resolve my human quandaries.
Most of us are not likely to embark on a heroic mission such as the call to work in JRS; almost certainly I am not. And yet, as pilgrims seeking spiritual union with God and our fellow travelers on this earth, we need to have something of similar experience. We need to be fluent in “fierce heart talk,” in both receptive and expressive language. I humbly pray that this Lenten journey with Abuna Gary will mean an opening of my heart to such talk. One of the ironic messages in this “African journal” may be that those in the “under-developed” world are more gifted in this language than those in the “developed” world. However, the Love that is so palpable in these pages attests to a Father who truly loves his children. He will surely give to all his sons and daughters the grace to encounter each other in ways that move them toward fulfillment of their human nature.

Christine in Massachusetts

"They Came Back Singing" has really changed my life. I was used to living in a materialistic culture where the size of your home, the cost of your clothes, the type of car you drive mark you as successful or unsuccessful. The refugees described in this book are truly "the beautiful people". They have so little of this world's goods but they are loving, spiritual people who are so close to God.

The resolution of Osura and Julieta's problem really impressed me. They had a number of serious problems in their marriage and instead of going to an outsider, they brought their problems to their fellow catechists and Father Gary for resolution rather to allow the problem to fester until the relationship is destroyed.

Father Gary writes of the many memories of his experiences that he will carry with him. I, too, will carry memories of the wonderful people he met. Their closeness to God is apparent and I want to be that close. They are not distracted by the world but have "their eye on the prize" - heaven and God. That is my goal - to try to see the world through their eyes.

Mary - Joliet, Illinois USA

Here we are at the end of Lent, the end of our reading and the "end" of the story. We all know it is not the end of the story. These people don't just all get up and go find other books to be in, like what happens we so many of the celebrities we are so enthralled with for some reason.

I don't want to refer to all the people Father Gary has introduced us to as "refugees". The word somehow diminishes their value as human beings. What they are, are children of God, making a daily struggle to live through the conditions and limitations others impose on them. Don't we all do that? One might say, "Well they've been removed from their homeland!" This is true, but what is a homeland other than a place you are most familiar with. After 15 years in a camp, haven't many of these people developed a new homeland, where their community is centered and they live among friends and loved ones. Don't get me wrong. These people are all much stronger than I am, and have lived through much more adversity than I am ever llikely to see, but at the same time, the things they are going through happen around me everyday, but until now my eyes haven't been opened to it.

Father Gary has shown me that the things I fear most in life are happening all around me; every day. Sometimes to me, sometimes to friends, sometimes to people on the other side of my "village", but they happen. I have the ability to make changes in my life that would benefit others, and that, in turn, may benefit still others. I've been likeing this to the lighting of the Paschal candle. One small seemingly insignificant light, begins to spread from candle to candle and soon the whole room is ablaze with the love of God, brought to us through Jesus. You might think , "That one light was not insignificant because it was brought by Jesus, the only son of God!", and thanks to 2,000 years of hindsight, you would be correct. However, at the time and except for those who knew him best, he was merely seen as the son of a carpenter. Father Gary carried the light Christ gave to him into the heart of darkness, yet his flame sparked another, half way around the world in California, in someone he's never met. My goal is to spread that light across the street or even next door. Who knows where it will go from there.

I would like to thank Father Andy, Maureen (especially Maureen) and everyone involved for giving me the opportunity to live this experience, and providing a forum to share my thoughts. The book gave me a better understanding of the situation, but the sharing gave me a better understanding of myself. Thanks so much, and I hope to have the opportunity again someday.

Larry -- California

Father Gary begins "The Tears of Rose Adoo" with Ezekiel 16:6-7. Verse 8 continues:

Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were
Old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you
And covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and
Entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord,
And you became mine.

An allegory, yet so much more. Two lives, Lillian and Rose, twisted and misshapened by a history of unimaginable suffering and pain, yet nonetheless graced by His shed Blood upon a hardened earth; only to yield a newly begotten, and rarest of flowers, whose Gardener labored not without tears, not without giving His eternal Best, that with each unique and fragile petal, His love would forever be reflected towards those attracted by His life-giving fragrance stemming from the Lilies in the Valley and the Roses of Sharon.

In His Eternal Love

Emmanuel USA

Dear Fr. Gary, the lessons you have learnt made you more human. And so you broke down, not once, but many times. I am trying to capture some of your primordial experiences and make it my own. 'We find our redemption by honouring our relationships with God, neighbours and nature... There is no way I can not reject the injustice and the madness of the unequal distribution of the world's resources… In the presence of such fierce heart talk, words seemed superfluous and dumb… The vulnerable were part of the Body of Christ… The best of the church is discovered among the poor… Pasqualina in her dying was gracious, personable, simple and direct. She would pray for me in this life and the next… The Sudanese refugees are poor but it is the abuse of money that they resist…'

Gary, you have received your reward for the hard work. It will not be an exaggeration to say that you have received more from the people than you have given. That is the grace I ask for: I do not have much to give but give me a humble heart to receive more from the poor.

Joe Xavier, Bangalore, India

The story of Julietta and Osura was really awesome. I had to read it several times as it really touched me deeply. The courage that Julietta exhibited by coming before the gathered catechists and Gary to talk about her husband's drinking and abusing her and moving out was truly a magnificent testimony. She truly loved him to be able to be that honest. She really "took him over the coals so to say". But in the end the honesty of Eiyo and longtime religious leader in her community was about the most direct and honest that I think I have ever read about much less heard. To read this story during the end of Lent was truly a lesson in what a community gathered in love can do to bring about reconciliation between husband and wife.

As Gary was being driven from Belameling to Adjumani he thought about the events of the day he realized that convictions were only solidified that we find redemption in our lives by honoring our relationships. This story was the highlight of the week for me. "In that intimate and loving confrontation he saw the love between two people, the love of the community for it's brother and sister, and the love of God for all. This story says it all. In the life death and resurrection of Jesus redemption has come to all of us. This was indeed the Sacrament of Reconciliation done in a communal setting. How Awesome!

As I move into Holy Week I do so with the memory of this story and what can take place in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Margaret, RSM Fort Lauderdale

Holy Week:

Palm Sunday is fast approaching as I write this reflection. You will probably not see this submission until after Palm Sunday. I really enjoyed the statements about the Jesuits. I grew up in an area that had diocesan priests, Sisters of Mercy, Notre Dame nuns, Franciscans, and Trappists but nary a Jesuit to be found. When I moved to Omaha, I met several Jesuits and also heard a few jokes which emphasized their great educational skills along with their sometimes controversial stands on social justice. The last two chapters on They Come Back Singing speak to how the Jesuits enjoy comradeship and teamwork and the term used is “companions.” This was an excellent word choice as Ignatius originally referred to the order as “companions of Jesus.”

The final chapter is bittersweet as vacations or work abroad can be. You are happy to be home among friends, coworkers, and family. You will miss the people you met and shared your life and vocation with especially is you probably will not ever see them again. It probably was felt by Christ’s apostles and disciples twice. Once when he was crucified and again when he left them at the Ascension.

In conclusion, I ask myself why the title? The people keep on with their faith and sing even when they are running for their lives in Sudan and Uganda. Fr. Gary learns a lot from the refugees. They do not see priests often and their catechists may have some training but probably not as rigorous as what priests and deacons go through. I comprehend this best when a child helps someone and I am slow to react. Maybe that is why Christ asked the apostles to let the children approach him instead of shooing them away. Their simple faith is a lot more genuine than mine. My journey is definitely not over!

Steve in Omaha

To say "yes" again and forgive. How difficult that must have been! From a human perspective so hard and yet not so hard for our God. That is the mystery that keeps my faith alive. To know I am part of that loving, creative power of a God who wants us all to share that eternal peace and holiness - now, that puts all my temporal struggles into perspective. Struggles do not go away, yet to be companioned by my God allows me to get up each morning and continue the journey even when I am not totally sure where this journey on earth will lead. Once again Gary talks of the people and their stories. Once again he gives "life" to their hopes, dreams, and continuous faith in a God, that I at some weak moments, I would think has abandoned them. With all they continue to suffer, they can with love and courage say "don't worry, we will pray for you!"

Lord - I wish to learn how to have that simplicity, that courage and that strength to PRAY! As I move into Holy Week I only want the strength to remove some of the human blinders that prevent me from seeing the grace God is offering through the "Sacrifice" Christ endured while here on earth.

Ann Z., Philadelphia, PA

I cried as I read "The Tears of Rose Adoo," and marveled at the depth of her gratitude. It made me see my education in a whole new light.

The weather has been wonderful and it gets harder and harder to sit in class, knowing that I could be reading outside instead, enjoying the sunshine. I read this and felt ashamed! At first I thought "if Rose were in my shoes, she would probably feel the same way," but then I realized that I could just as easily be in her shoes. I think it is part of honoring the mystery of God's grace to strive to be as thankful and humble as if you were standing in the shoes of the least fortunate person, even when walking on paths strewn with opportunity and wealth. This Lent and this book have given me so many moments of awakening to my role as a Catholic, and the way our faith changes how we approach situations. I pray going into this final week of Lent that we will stay always willing to learn from our brothers and sisters and seek out their voices tirelessly.

Elena C. Chicago, IL

Say Yes Again and Forgive Forever

It's difficult to articulate the impact of this chapter for me. In the evening, I read about Julieta's appearance at the meeting of the catechists, her testimony against her husband, Osura, and his response. This isn't the first time Gary shows the refugees as human, sinners like the rest of us. He described a drunk woman coming into a liturgy, he led a powerful meeting to talk about how everyone is a sinner. But here, Gary shows how the community faces the consequences of sin. I think Julieta shows great courage to speak to the group and to show her hurt. I pondered the humanity of the refugees, who struggle with sin as I do, even amidst the great suffering that seems to pull them closer to Christ.

As I think about the mystery of love and forgiveness, the chapter Kogwon Narju (meaning "because of love") returns to my thoughts. It has drifted through my consciousness since I read it awhile back. What is it to love, to forgive? How and why can we forgive enemies, who are the enemies? Could I truly 'love' my enemy? how does that weigh against my responsibility to my dependents?

In the morning, I finished the chapter and wept. I cannot describe how deeply this affects me. What is the grace I asked for early in Lent? To be rid of the hurt and resentments I have suffered from a break in relationship. The has been the source of anger toward myself and others. It has resulted in sinful patterns, "unmoored me", as Gary describes, from community.

I listen to Osura. To the priest and the elders speak the truth in love, each in turn. I can place myself in each role in the room. I am hurt by hypocrisy; but are we not all hypocrites? With high ideals, I fall short sometimes, too, of being who I want to be. I have spoken the truth to others, and risked alienation and causing a stir. I did have the situation in my reopen the wounds just recently. I determined that this would provide me with an opportunity to cleanse the wound some, and ask God's grace in healing it.

I don't see this often in my community, working together to achieve the return to 'yes' and the forgiveness. usually, we are just expected to 'move on' and 'get over it'. That leaves the wound covered, causing damage more widespread and usually hidden. I wonder will Osura be able to break his drinking pattern? I see that he has the support and the accountability of others, and I pray for him and Julieta in their commitment to love and forgive forever..

Can I forgive, or does it truly take both parties, and the community to make each whole again and able to love? I envy the community, Julieta's courage. Though what they did was difficult, they were willing to face the truth. If that type of working through is not possible, then can the hurts just be let go? May I be granted the courage to speak the truth, as Julieta, and the wisdom to speak with clarity, as the elders. The authenticity to humble myself, as Osura.

blessings, Susan in KY

We experience God's love and mercy through our interactions with others. In order to achieve this we must be open and honest with ourselves as well as to others, individually and in community. For it is only with open, loving hearts that we can truly realize compassion, forgiveness and support!

Right now, I am not comfortable with my prayer life and the surrounding church. This surprising realization came as I read "-- the local church is owned by it's people, and people are being taught in their own language with their own symbols and images." (p.194) I wonder if it is true of my local church, and that I'm no longer a true member, and if so, why?

The statement "nothing will happen unless we are instruments of God's willing to make things happen" (p.207) makes me ask for the grace, wisdom, and courage to "step out" if that is His will. I need to trust!


First, let me thank you. My book finally arrived a few days ago and I have been rushing to catch up so that I could participate in the sharing. What an amazing experience! I have been so moved by these stories. Often horrified - that I must admit - but overwhelmed by the ways in which the Spirit is active in this world and can bring joy to even the darkest places. We've been reading The Acts of the Apostles in my Bible study group, which has been called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. It may seem strange, but one of the things that struck me is the resemblences between the two books - for the Spirit is clearly as active today, in the most unlikely places (at least from our human point of view) as then. It's giving a new view to my reading of Acts.

I was particularly touched by the story of Rose Adoo. I myself am a teacher and motivated students are always such a wonderful experience. I have to admit that I felt rather jealous. I'd love to have students like that - so desperate and eager to learn. What an extraordinary privilege it must be to teach them. Most of my students show so little curiousity.

I've always been particularly interested in the education of girls which is so difficult in many parts of the world. I found this story one of the most hopeful in the book. And hope, I think, is one of the most important elements of the Christian message. Maybe that's what i've liked best about this book- it's message of hope in a world where there is so much despair.

There are so many other things I'd like to say but I'm a bit overwhelmed by all I've read. I hope to have thought things through a bit better by next week.

Anyway, thank you for he privilege of letting me read this book.

Lori from Paris

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