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Joyful Service with Christ on the Cross

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By: Julia Laweh, Toronto, Canada

Father Richard Ho Lung, the Founder of the Missionaries of the Poor Order, once said: “The call to serve the poor is an invitation to happiness.” These words undoubtedly strike us as truly beautiful. However, even as practicing Catholics, do we actually stop to think about the deep meaning behind Father Ho Lung’s invitation to sacrifice our time for those who are less fortunate?

Last April I had the privilege to spend 10 days at the Missionaries of the Poor Centre, helping the Missionaries of the Poor Brothers to take care of the impoverished members of the Kingston ghetto community. Living among the Brothers, I was amazed by the amount of love and affection they have for the poor; by their dedication to providing the corporeal works of mercy; as well as by their endurance that manifests itself in hours of hard physical labor for the glory of God.

Serving at the MOP Centre was one of the most challenging and humbling, yet rewarding experiences of my life. Among the multitude of virtues that the Missionaries of the Poor community posseses, the virtue of humility stands out the most. Every day, Brothers work hard to dignify those who, it might seem, were completely stripped off all dignity. Through actions such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick, and burying the dead, Brothers, often rejecting their own needs, labor for the restoration of a broken suburban Kingston community.

In North American culture, we are accustomed to hard work, yet it is socially acceptable to complain when the work we are expected to do is just a little too hard. You would never hear a word of complaining from the Missionaries of the Poor Brothers. Instead, even at the end of a 17-hour long day, their faces are radiant and smiling. Toward the end of my stay at the Centre, I had no doubt that Father Ho Lung’s words on the service to the poor being an invitation to happiness were not just a beautiful saying. They are the reflection of the Missionaries of the Poor everyday reality- the reality of what they say is a “joyful service with Christ on the Cross.”