Confessions from a Filipino missionary far from home

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Br. John Alfred Molina, a missionary based in France, carried the Philippine flag during a youth gathering to close the Days in the Diocese before World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland. (Photo: Johann Mangussad)

KRAKOW, Poland, July 29, 2016 – What’s life like for a missionary serving abroad?

At the conclusion of the Days in the Diocese where thousands of World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims gathered for the Adoration and Youth meeting in ?wiatynia Opatrzno?ci Bo?ej (Temple of Divine Providence) located in Warsaw, Poland’s Wilanów district on Sunday, Br. John Alfred Molina, a missionary based in France, got to share his most trying experiences proclaiming the Gospel far from home.

A a seminarian before his mission in France, Molina said evangelizing in a foreign country is one of the hardest challenges he has faced.

Back to zero

Seminarista ako (I’m a seminarian), back home I’ve gained high regard, but in France, it’s like I’m nothing, I’m back to zero,” he said.

Serving as a missionary with Dominican priests, Molina said things do not always go smoothly teaching some 500 young immigrants and poor people in a Catholic school in Lille, France.

Like so many who live far from their homeland, Molina said he continues to struggle with homesickness, adjusting to the culture, and racism.

“I wanted to say no and decline [the mission], but who would help them if I don’t?”, he said.

“People often ask me, ‘Bakit ka nakakangiti kahit ganyan sitwasyon mo?’ (How do you even smile in such a situation?) I just think to myself, God is the reason why I see light in the midst of darkness. And that’s what keeps me going,’” said Molina, who is at the WYD in Krakow as part of this discernment for the priesthood.

Soul training

While he admits things have gotten better, he sees the trials as some form of training for the soul.

“It is very different now, but this kind of treatment is good training for me – to humble myself before others [as I discern further].”

According to Molina, it is the “little victories” that keep him going.

“In my evangelization, God gives me reassurance. Once I was walking in the church grounds, I saw one of my students riding a bike. He stopped when he passed by the front of the church, and he made the sign of the cross. These are the small things that make me feel God’s presence in my ministry,” he shared. (Johann Mangussad / CBCPNews)

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