The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

the 10 day episcopal adventure has ended. the local ordinary has returned to his see. this particular parish priests breathes a sigh of relief. the parish at large rejoices in newfound hope.

i must say, the bishop of san juan, jose grullon estrella, a diminutive (even more-so than i) priest of 35+ years , possesses the magnanimity of a saint. he visits every parish in his diocese twice a year - once for the patronal feast, and once for at least 5 days to visit every district within every parish to say Mass, hear confessions, celebrate weddings, and confirm the young and old, distribute first communion, and meet with the leaders of the community.

we worked the schedule out to basically cover two districts per day. i would arrive in advance to hear confessions and prepare the people. one time, after i had been hearing confessions for an hour and a half, he drove up, saw the line, grabbed two chairs and said to me, "bishops need to hear confessions too."

he never tired, although i think he has learned how to nap mounted on a mule...he never complained - even after having eaten yuca too often, tramping through mud, having people argue with him, broken trucks, lost luggage, unprepared confirmandi. he always responded with a smile or a joke or a blessing. all told, a remarkable bishop.


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