It is lovely for me to be back in Cape Town and to be writing this word to you from the safety of my parish office! My week in Nairobi was very interesting, and gave me a real sense of the very different ways in which the Redemptorists are serving the Church in eleven different countries in Africa. As the meetings were taking place, I felt a real sense of joy that as Redemptorists we are very blessed to have such a prayerful and faithful parish community as we have here at Holy Redeemer. It is our privilege to serve you as best we can, but also to be inspired and spiritually enriched by the living faith that is so evident to all.
Fr Sean, Br Richard and myself arrived back in the early hours of Wednesday morning and later that morning I had to go back to the airport to pick up a very good friend of mine who has come to visit us here for 3 weeks. His name is Fr Martin Poland, and he is the parish priest of my home parish in Scotland. I first met Fr Martin at the time of my Dad’s death and since that time he has been a huge support to my family. He visited my Mum every week with Holy Communion until her death and preached at her Requiem Mass. He has also celebrated the weddings of my niece and my nephew. And, since my sister Eileen’s time of illness, he also visits her weekly with Holy Communion. So I can say that Fr Martin is not only a personal friend, but a person who is beloved by all my family.
It is wonderful for me therefore to have Fr Martin staying with us for the next few weeks. The Redemptorists will, of course, make sure that he is given a very warm South African welcome! His presence here is a reminder to me that real and true friendship is at the heart of a living faith. One of the most striking aspects of the life and teaching of Jesus is that his example of love is one of true friendship, where each person is respected and treated with dignity as a brother or sister. Indeed, Jesus calls each of his disciples friends and invites us to live our relationship with Him and all our relationships in Gospel friendship.
It seems clear therefore that one of the marks of a prayerful and faithful parish is that we each move closer and closer to one another in terms of living out the Gospel friendship to which we are invited by Our Redeemer. That is why there is no place for division and competition within our parish. Being disciples and friends of the Lord means so much more than attending Mass each week. It is about being spiritually transformed in such a way that we see one another as brothers and sisters, friends in the love of God.
Fr Gerard, CSsR