The History of Redemptorist Parish Missions
When the three Irish priests Frs. Matt Hickey, Leo O’Halloran and Gerry McDonnell landed in Sri Lanka seventy-five years ago; their main purpose was to use this tiny island in the Indian Ocean as the focal point to launch their Indian Mission. Nevertheless, when they realized that there were ample opportunities for evangelization in this beautiful paradise, they did not hesitate to initiate their missionary work in Sri Lanka. It was obvious that as foreigners if they were to carry out their missionary work effectively in the island that they had to learn the local languages; namely, Sinhala and Tamil. They did not hesitate in undertaking this arduous task of learning these languages which the had never heard before.
Present Day Parish Missions
In spite of being very small in numbers, confreres in the mission team are busy all throughout the year preaching parish missions. They are so much in demand that most of the parish priests are even ready to adjust their pre-planned parish programs to accommodate a Redemptorist Mission.
The unique Style of Preaching Parish Missions
Whenever the Redemptorists go to a parish to preach a mission, they do their best to understand the struggles of the people by visiting their families. Their simple way of life and personal relationships with the people help them to come closer to the people of that particular parish during the mission. Conducting various spiritual input sessions for parents, youth and children has become a very effective way of reaching out to everyone in the parish. Apart from the traditional method of preaching, adopting various methods of proclamation such as dialogue sermons and using multi media technology have become very attractive and effective ways of proclamation.
Another important element of a Redemptorist mission is team work. Whenever they go they go as a team and work as a team every ready to share the responsibilities of a mission. This spirit of team work has contributed immensely to the success of parish missions in Sri Lanka.
The fruits of the genuine commitment and dedication of the confreres are seen towards the latter part of a mission when the faithful approach to share their faith experiences and conversion stories.
When the church is overflowing with people and when you come to know that some people who had not been to church for ages were present for mission services, you cannot help but praise God for making us instruments of His Word.