The home of a missionary

Fr Martin during the IRMU meeting in Koreal. Photo: Fr Martin Koroiciri

Fr Martin during the IRMU meeting in Korea. Photo: Fr Martin Koroiciri 

In the second week of March, I began my journey down to Korea for the Inter Region/mission unit meeting or IRMU in short, with a lot of anticipation of what to expect and how I must fight to place the agenda of my region on the table.

I was ready and excited to see how this meeting would turn out until I finally arrived, and within the next few days, all that I expected turned inside out. The first thing that got me was the tiredness of my body from the 30-hour travelling and the change in the timeline, then the adjustment to the new location with weather and culture totally different from the Latin American culture I am used to.

The meeting had a lot of challenges as well, but that is to be expected. I learnt that my view of the Columbans was very constricted to my region and ministry, and this meeting helped broaden my opinion of the Columbans at a global level.

Realising our reality in the Columban world made me appreciate the wonderful work my brothers and sisters have done in each country of mission. The struggles and challenges they faced so God´s word may be heard, from the massacre in Myanmar to the raging suicide bomb counts in Pakistan to the pandemic experience worldwide, each Columban held their ground and continued working silently in the background, giving hope and kindness to the people which resounds the Psalm 23:4 ¨Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me¨.

I also noticed that when each member spoke of their mission country, they would talk about it with passion and conviction, which speaks volumes to the dedication that each has given their life for God´s mission.

After the meeting in Korea, I visited my family in Brisbane, Australia and my Columban brothers in Melbourne. Being with family gave me time to wind down after a long and heavy meeting in Korea. The opportunity to visit the Columbans in Melbourne gave me more comfort as I was visiting my home region. As I ended my visit and began my preparations to return to Chile, I realised that I didn’t have the same feeling as when I first travelled in 2019 after my ordination to Chile, a sense of going overseas for mission. I felt like I was going home, like I was returning home, maybe better said, to continue the mission. This reminded me of a Columban in Fiji who once mentioned in his homily that missionaries are exiles for God. They may be born from a country, but after years of mission, their appointed country of mission will be more like a home to them than their own country of birth.

Fr Martin celebrating mass after returning to his new parish. Photo: Fr Martin Koroiciri

Fr Martin celebrating mass after returning to his new parish. Photo: Fr Martin Koroiciri 

(John 20:21) ¨Peace be with you, as the Father sent me, so I send you¨. As I packed my bags, slowly preparing for my return to mission, I realised what that Columban priest meant by being exiles for Christ. I also remember that the Columbans have this saying ¨We belong to Christ and not to ourselves¨ which is where we can find a home of a missionary, as our saviour Jesus Christ mentioned in Matthew´s Gospel (Matt 8:20) ¨Birds have nests and foxes have holes, the son of man has no place to rest his head¨ so do we as missionaries, our home is where God has sent us to be where the word helps us be useful in the kingdom of God.

Columban Fr Martin Koroiciri works at the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Alto Hospicio, Chile.

Related links

While visiting Melbourne, Fr Martin shared a few reflections for our Trust in Him at All Times - Reflection series. See some of the episodes below.


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