Travelling for the Kingdom

St Bernadette parish church, Malawi PC: @bradbradsweet

Summer allows us to actually voyage to one or two places that we might have dreamed of and planned on those darker evenings in winter. Our inspiration for these trips vary of course, but when we arrive there we see others have thought of these locations as well.

Fr Brad Sweet with Paul PC: @bradbradsweet

Whether our travel is to the Lake District or the beach, Bali or Lima, travel and pilgrimage are interlaced in our world. We can and should, spend time either alone or with a few others on retreats and pilgrimages to have a deeper relationship with God. Spiritual reading and Mass bring us closer to a knowledge of God’s Will in our lives.

It could be that He wishes more from us and so uses our travels to connect us with others. We see and understand the world other people live in, and perhaps suffer in better. This could only lead us to a closer relationship with God and seek to help those, who though far, are indeed our neighbours.

I read a long time ago about someone visiting Zimbabwe. The writer met a local man who said: “don’t just come to see, come to live” and that way become part of the solution to problems in the world and see progression in the lives of others. I followed that advice 30 years ago and went to live and work in Zambia for three years.

And so after a visit to Malawi last year as speaker for a Clergy Formation Day, I received an invitation from the Diocese of Mzuzu and so I have returned to work in Malawi – ‘The warm heart of Africa’. I have been asked to be the director of the Pastoral Training Centre in the hills above Lake Malawi. It is a beautiful location, not far from the town centre.

The Pastoral Training Centre is in the town of Nkhata Bay (pronounced without the h and with a soft n). The training centre is used primarily by Mzuzu Diocese for training programmes of the laity and priests. The priests here cover vast areas often by motorcycle or 4×4 pickups. There are men and women religious orders working in the diocese as well. My work is in support of these activities and priests through training, retreats and self-support initiatives.

Nkhata Bay, Malawi PC: @bradbradsweet

A quick visit to the Internet will reveal stunning photography from around Lake Malawi and the nature found here. The travelling this year is for the work that I am asked to do rather than simply to visit the many sites (which I will try to get to soon enough to see the national parks and wildlife!)

A personal project I have been setting up is a crowd-fund project to pay the secondary school fees for poor children. Primary schooling is free but all children have to pay for high school. So many poor families only send their children to school for an initial six years but do not continue their studies after this. I hope to have this ready before schools begin for the year in September.

Hopefully our travels illumine us to the great beauty of the world God created and the wonderful people he allows us meet. Whether we travel as I have done, to work in Malawi, or simply head to the local monastery for a retreat weekend, we encounter the Lord and seek to increase His Kingdom wherever God leads us. Be a part of Kingdom Service!


 

Why Pilgrimage?, by David Baldwin

 

Pathways to God – A guide to the practice of silent prayer,
by Fr Paul Nicholson SJ

 

 

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