Letter from the Executive Director
Dear Friends of the Missions,
Earlier this week, I received a letter from our National Director, but it wasn’t something he had written. Instead, he shared with me a letter from Christopher Fernandez, a 25-year-old seminarian from Mumbai, India, who asked him to personally thank you for your prayers and generous contributions in support of the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, which makes it possible for him to study at the local Pius X Seminary. Here is what Christopher had to say …
My childhood was not easy: My mother was working as a maid in London without a visa, so she missed the first ten years of my life, and my dad had to take care of his own mother. So, I lived with my grandmother, not knowing if I would see my parents again. But every single day, in many small ways, I felt the constant presence of God.
I first thought about becoming a priest during my Confirmation class. I lived in a neighborhood in Mumbai where you can find both wealthy and poor people attending a parish. And I was moved by the love those who had no material possessions readily shared with me. Their generosity towards me, a young boy with nothing to give, was so palpable that I began to wonder if God was calling me for something more.
But in my nothingness, I questioned my qualifications to begin the path toward priesthood. During my discernment, I came about a quote in the book of Corinthians that I believe was the answer to that question: “God Doesn’t Call the Qualified; He Qualifies the Called.”
Mother Teresa would always issue the invitation for each one of us to do “ordinary things with extraordinary love.” As I prepare to become a priest, I pray that God will give me the grace of embedding my ministry with that “extraordinary love” to serve and inspire others. Just as my parish community and priest showered me with Christ’s love so long ago, in a few short years, I will be ordained a priest and will be given the opportunity to do the same.
Catholics here are a very small minority of 1.5 percent, in a nation of 1.4 billion people, but we are called to reach out to all humankind. Everywhere we go, we are missionaries, tasked with spreading the Word of God to the rich and the poor, to those who know Him already as well as to those who have forgotten Him, reject Him, or never felt His loving presence.
I couldn’t physically be with my parents, but I knew they were there. I cannot see God, but I feel him guiding my life. And I do not know the names of the donors who support the Society of St. Peter the Apostle, but their prayers and sacrifice sustain me in my formation. Because of these generous donors, I can prepare for a life of service to Christ and the Church.– Christopher Fernandez
Friends, I am reaching out to you not only in the name of Christopher but also in the names of the thousands of seminarians and religious novices living in mission territory who receive an annual subsidiary from the Society of St. Peter the Apostle. Support for one year of formation for these men and women is only $700, or $4,200 for the full six years. A generous contribution of any size would greatly aid the lives of the future leaders of our Church.
On behalf of the men and women of the Missions, I thank you for your prayerful consideration. May God bless you abundantly.
-Reverend Monsignor Terrance Fleming, Summer 2023