It's Monday, August 21, 2006. In the Mass for today, a man comes to Jesus and asks, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"
I'm writing you to give one answer that I have discovered. It's my London Life Insurance policy that my mother and father bought for me about 50 years ago. It lay around in cardboard boxes for years until I read in the Catholic Missions In Canada magazine that I could donate it to the missions. I had enough revenue coming in from other sources so I considered it a blessing that I had a way to dispose of my policy to a very good cause.
In the last little while, I've discovered that there are a number of priests donating to Catholic Missions In Canada. I suspect that we all feel the imbalance that exists between our comfortable First World way of life and the Third World where people are starving -- physically, socially, and spiritually. And we are also aware that we don't have to go that far or cross an ocean to witness it. There are areas of Canada that are sorely in need of the kind of resources which we have in such abundance.
A good deal of this news comes to us from the magazine called Catholic Missions In Canada. We priests are in great admiration of the quality of this magazine and are proud to be associated with the organization.
Another reason for pride is the kind of people who turn up in it.
One of them is Father Bart Burke. He is a classmate of mine, both of us ordained in 1956, just half a century ago! Bart was ordained for the Diocese of Peterborough, and initially served there. But in line with today's Gospel about doing some good deed, Bart moved east to Newfoundland-Labrador from 1982 to 1992 to help out there.
Then he went west and north to the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas where he journeys to his four missions all the year round.
I remember him telling me some time ago about one swing he did through his missions. Arriving home, he went to bed after the long journey. Later, he was wakened by considerable noise from a group of men partying in the parking lot. When he went to encourage them to tone it down, or even better, go home, one of them said, "Father, go back to bed or we'll burn your church down."
I leave it to you to decide Bart's next move.
Strange and wonderful that a man who grew up working a relatively small farm in the Peterborough area should be "working" hundreds of miles for Christ. (Sorry to centre you out like this, Bart, I know you'll be terribly embarrassed. But the cause deserves it and so do you.)
This appeal is not written for priests only, but for everyone. Lay people may need their life insurance policies while their children are still dependent on them or while they have a mortgage on their home. But once their life insurance policy is not needed to cover against these needs, would they consider donating it to Catholic Missions In Canada?
To priests I say, "Is there room to finance your way of living without a life insurance policy?"
Consider the good deed you can do right here and now by giving that policy to Catholic Missions In Canada.
(Retired Toronto priest Father Paul Lennon, 75, who celebrates his 50th anniversary of ordination this year, still preaches at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto. He served as president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Toronto from 1979 to 1983.)