Mary Gorman will be 90 on April 5th this year.  She has been poorly in the last few months.  She heard that there were Mill Hill Missionaries ministering near her parish in Sunderland.  She desired to be prayed for by one.  Her daughter Bernadette linked up and I have visited Mary a few times in Hospital as well as in the care Home.

Mary beams with an angelic smile every now and then.  She is witty and naturally seeing goodness and beauty in things and people around her.  From appreciating my coming, the care of staff and family, to thanking me for the prayers and daring to ask, “will you bury me when I die please?”

She has lovely stories of her work for Missio.  She effortlessly recalls the joy of being a redbox promoter in her parish for many years; celebrating the social, the spiritual and the missionary dimension of the Redbox activities in her parish.  From the smile and benevolence on her face, you can almost picture how without condescending or offending or demanding her Redbox Mission in her parish became “Mary’s Boxes” – and everyone knew that. 

Mary reminds me forcefully of the appreciation, prayers and service we owe all our Missio volunteers and “Friends of Mill Hill” around the world – those who are aging or ailing or already gone to their rest.  She reminds me of the reward, the treasure, the prize that we all look forward to as, if, and when we toil and labour for the Kingdom, for the Mission of the Church, for the Salvation of souls and the alleviation of the suffering of others.  

Mary’s and many others’ redboxes remind me/us of our red sash – the sacrifice, selfless love, charity, the sweet suffering that is a fragrant offering to God for others or to others for God.  May our prayers and charity console and accompany us and others in this life and into eternity

Happy Birthday Mary.  Prayers, Blessings and best wishes from your Missio and Mill Hill Family.

Bernadette, her daughter who liaises with me to visit her ailing mother wrote back to me:

Hello Father,

Thank you for visiting yesterday and for writing the lovely reflection. It brought tears to my eyes!   Her parish was St Leonards Silksworth Sunderland. After her stroke she is now being cared for at The Holy Cross care home. Through the collecting of the red boxes she became very good friends with Fr Michael O’Neil who was a missionary who celebrated lots of family occasions.  Mary had six children and would often take her youngest ones with her to collect and they can remember these memories as Happy days!  Thank you again, you are very kind! Thank you and appreciate all the kindness you have shown mam. Her eyes do sparkle when she sees you. 

Fr Emmanuel Mbeh, mhm. March 2023.

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