The Missionary Servants are trying something new this summer. Two candidates from the pre-novitiate house in Riverside, California, are spending time on missions outside the United States. Charlie Felix is serving with our priests and Brothers in Colombia, while Nick Torres is steeped in mission life in Loiza, Puerto Rico.
Nick was kind enough to share a short reflection detailing his experiences so far:
“Recently, Father Rocendo Herrera and I paid a visit to two sick men. I felt a bit self-conscious and a bit out of place because I had been busy cleaning the house when word came that these men needed us. Dressed in shorts, a dirty t-shirt, and boat shoes, I headed out.
When we arrived, I quickly got over my self-consciousness and became quite excited. We parked outside of the area where the first man lived. Surrounding us as we made our way were old wooden houses characteristic of poor, rural Puerto Rico.
It took some time to locate the first gentleman — we walked from one end of the neighborhood to the other, finally entering into a house we thought was his and searching through the rooms until we found the man wrapped in sheets in his bed.
The room wreaked of a pungent odor. Beside the bed was a toilet which I thought unusual. I was nervous because we had basically come in unannounced to this sick man’s house. His father and brothers began to arrive and explain to us the situation.
This man had been bitten by a scorpion and refused to go to the hospital for several days. It was easy to see that he was not of sound mind. Father Rocendo pleaded with the man and after a few minutes he agreed to let us take him to the hospital the next day.
We promptly left and went a short distance north to the next little neighborhood. There we were greeted by a woman whose husband is quite ill with cancer. She shared that she was unable to leave her house due to her husband’s illness — he cannot be left alone.
She took us into the husband’s room, and he greeted us as if we were old friends. He turned his body to reveal how thin he was. This man was nearing the end of his life, all skin and bones. However, you could tell by the wrinkles in his face and the sheer size of his hands and feet, that he was once a very strong and vital man who worked as a laborer for most of his life. We quickly had a conversation about his pains, and Father Rocendo blessed him. The man shed a tear during the blessing and reached for his wife’s hand, reminded me of my own mother. We left shortly thereafter and went home.
For the first time in my life, I felt like an outsider. But this feeling went away as soon as I began to get to know these men and their families. Going into these visits I felt like I didn’t belong, but by the end I wanted to stay with those people.
As I returned home, I thanked God for this experience. I asked for His continued help as I discern my vocation and for the wisdom and compassion required of this journey.
One thing I know for sure, any one of my Missionary Servant brothers would find himself completely at home in this community. These people, marginalized by most of Puerto Rican society, really are poor and abandoned. Loiza is its own world, its own family, and invariably the Missionary Servants are a part of that family.”
The experiences shared by Nick in his reflection are great examples of the types of good works and services asked of each Missionary Servant. Being present and attentive in the daily lives of the poor and marginalized is how we achieve our main goal of preserving the faith.