Priest and Prejudice

While on a business trip, on the way to an appointment, in a rather removed, rural area in our cultural heartland, I passed by a tourist attraction board that stated ‘Reichenau Mission’. I immediately felt the prompting of the spirit to enter there. I was on a tight schedule though and undertook to go in there on the way back to my hotel.

On the way back I figured I best keep this appointment with the Spirit. It was a dodgy looking gravel road over a hill that seemed to go on forever into the green rural fields. As soon as I drove into the mission over a single car bridge crossing a fair-sized river, I realised it was Catholic. I was swept away by the architecture and rather charming 18th-century style farming village. (I did not now it was Catholic by the architecture, but by a board that said ‘priest’, just to put it out there :))

The stunning view as you come over the crest on the dirt road.

The stunning view as you come over the crest on the dirt road.

I parked at the office still having no idea what I was doing there.

Ended up having an enlightening discussion with a very well-educated father Wonder. He started there only 2 months earlier. I got the distinct impression he thought I was there to duel him on matters of theology and philosophy, both things I am passionate about, but not at all my intention.

I realised though, ashamed I might add, that I was prejudiced against the Catholic church. I am the man one of my favourite Afrikaans bands sings about. Loosely translated; ‘Is it necessary to have 20 churches in one town? Disunity is our biggest error. Religion, the murderer of our time.’

Seeing the impact they have on their community, how they go out of their way to take care of the people and make God’s love so tangible and visible, is this not the very essence of life? What use has love if it tends not to the needs of others? What value is in God if he is not made visible?

The community school at the mission.

The community school at the mission.

I was encouraged to never again speak negatively of any denomination. No! Together we are the bride, each serving a different function in the body.

A city divided will not stand…

God bless the Catholics, God bless father Wonder.

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