The following is by Father Valentine Young, OFM, a faithful Catholic priest who died on 17 January 2020. It was delivered sometime between 2013 and 2020. To learn more about Father Valentine, please scroll to the bottom of the page.
N THE LONG EPISTLE for today, Saint Paul describes all the hardships that he had to endure in his work of bringing Christ’s message to new converts—in other words, his work as one of the first missionaries in the Church. I spent about a third of my life as a priest in what I believe could be called missionary work, when I worked with Indians in New Mexico and Arizona. If I figure correctly, I did this for twenty four years. As part of my own philosophy of life in these circumstances, I looked on mission work as my endeavor to attempt to bring the Faith to people who had only recently—or who had not yet—embraced our Catholic Faith. Time doesn’t permit to go into much detail to describe it. I was happy and satisfied in that work until obedience called me to do something else.
Parable of the sower: Our Blessed Lord’s parable of the sower can give a good description of what the missionary does when he tries to spread the Catholic Faith. You have varying degrees of success; and if you’re going to succeed and persevere in mission work, you soon learn that you must leave the results up to God. You do what you can—and you leave the rest up to God. And if you are really working for God, you don’t quit because you don’t seem to be getting any results. I had the good fortune of being assigned to the same mission field twice: the first time in 1956 when I was first ordained. Visible results back then were quite meager, at least at some of the missions. When I returned about twenty years later, I was surprised at the seeming progress. Just as you can’t force Mother Nature, so it seems you can’t force the grace of God. I could have benefitted by Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s memorable line: “God doesn’t expect us to be successful, but he does expect us to be faithful.” (I only heard that probably in the 1990s.)
Return to Cincinnati: When I made what is probably my final return to Cincinnati in 2010, I did some teaching at Roger Bacon high School. I had done that before—back in 1959, when the School had an enrollment of over 1,100 boys. By 2010, its enrollment was barely at 400, even though by that time it included boys and girls. One of the reasons was that the area or territory from which Roger Bacon used to draw its students now included ten closed parishes. I’ll list some of them: Saint George in Corryville, Saint Andrew in Avondale, Saint Bonaventure in Fairmount, Saint Pius in Cumminsville, Saint Patrick’s in Northside, and five others.
Mission territory: They are not closed because there are no people live there; they are closed because there are no Catholics—or at least no practicing Catholics—living there. So we have lots of mission territory right within our city limits. They need someone to go among them and sow the seed of the word of God. If that doesn’t happen, there is no hope of anything sprouting or growing. In other words we need another Saint Paul. +
“Arise, Lord, why sleepest Thou? …”