By Samuel Pearson
In December last year, Kyaw Lin Aung and I traveled to the village of Gangolli in India. As part of our preparation for ordination, we were to experience the daily reality of priesthood in a culture different from our own. For each of us, in unique ways, it was a journey filled with memories that will remain with us for a lifetime. We’ll always remember the delicious food we ate and the good times with Father Albert, but above all, we'll remember the people, their faith and their goodness to us. We had such beautiful time, where the warmth of the weather was surpassed only by the warmth of the welcome the parishioners so kindly extended to us!
It was amazing to see how the whole parish came together to celebrate their feast day (the Immaculate Conception). It was incredible to see how much so many gave, of themselves, their time and their talent to make it such an awesome celebration that united other religions, and fellow Catholics! Never in Australia have I seen such vibrancy and energy at the local level and for me, the feast day was a vision of what could be in here when genuine faith flourishes!
Though I've returned home now and am immersed in the busyness of seminary life, my mind often returns to Gangolli!
I think of the young people and how happy they were simply to hang out at the church for fun! I can't believe that, no one would do that here! I remember the Apostolic Carmel Sisters and how their daily sacrifice and generosity sustains the schools and educates so many so that they can have a better life later on. I think of the bustling streets, the hard-working people in their shops and farms and fishing boats, and how such diversity can live together in such harmony!
I will always be grateful to Fr Albert and the parishioners of Immaculate Conception Church, Gangolli for the extraordinary experiences I was so blessed to have. I will keep them in my prayers and hopefully will return as 'Father Samuel' to offer mass in thanksgiving to God and to his people in Gangolli.
Samuel Pearson is a fourth-year seminarian at Corpus Christi College and is studying for the priesthood for the Melbourne Archdiocese.