‘The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it’


It was Thanksgiving season in the nursing home. The small resident population gathered around their humble Thanksgiving table, and the director of the home asked each in turn to express one thing for which he or she was thankful for. “Thanks” were expressed for a home in which to stay, families, friends, etc. One old lady, when her turn came, she said, “I thank the Lord for two perfectly good teeth left in my mouth, one in my upper jaw and one in my lower jaw. They match so well that I can chew my food.” The psalmist says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” (Ps.92:1). 

Some time ago, I was asked by my religious superior to move into Bromley parish as an assistant priest. This was a hard nut to crack. It was like God telling Abraham, “Leave your country, your kindred and your father’s house for a country which I shall show you.” (Gen.12:1).

I had mixed feelings accepting this appointment. First of all, I was barely four months in Brockley parish, trying to put my feet on the ground, when I was asked to move to Bromley. Besides, I was sad to cut off from my usual and familiar ties.

Perhaps this is the type of feeling associated with the call to discipleship. The would-be disciple is reluctant sometimes. “Let me go and say goodbye to my friends, let me go and bury my father and so on.” (Lk.9:57-61)

Over and above all, I was not sure of the type of people I would meet in Bromley. Would they be friendly and welcoming, or they would be hostile? Would they be like the Anakim? When Moses sent spies to the land of Canaan, some of the spies came back with a terrible report.

“The country we have gone to reconnoitre is a country that devours its inhabitants. All the people we saw there were of enormous size. We saw giants there too (the Anakim, descended from the giants), we felt like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” (Num.13:32-33). 

However, after a few weeks in Bromley community, my fears disappeared.

I found people very kind, loving, caring, accommodating and friendly. I thank the Pastoral Team and the entire parishioners of SS Joseph and Swithun for our little time together. It has been a time of learning and making friends. Hubert, H. Humphrey says: “The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.”

I will miss all of you greatly, but do remember that my memories of you are stored where, “no moth nor woodworm can destroy and where thieves cannot break in and steal” (Mt.6:20).