Father Terence De Silva
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and tell the Good News.” (Mk 16:15) During his public ministry, Jesus fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cured the sick, consoled the sorrowful, etc., as he taught about the kingdom of God. As followers of Jesus, we are called to do God’s work for his holy people. Before I became a priest, I worked with many priests and nuns, in both Sri Lanka and Kuwait, who served on the frontlines helping the needy by caring for people and families, irrespective of their religion, race or culture. It gave me great joy and spiritual satisfaction to work with those in need in whatever way I could, under the leadership of these
priests and nuns.
Unemployment, poverty, homelessness, hunger and sickness have no geological boundaries, no racial divisions and no national identities. Yet we can help change the lives of those affected with God’s grace and blessings. We can move mountains if we have faith (Mt 17:20), and I am called to show my faith by my deeds. (Jas 2:18) Now, as a priest, I am called to bring the Gospel to life, to extend a hand and walk the extra mile with those in Harlan County, where I minister. No matter where I live, I am connected to God, from whom all good things come, and I am connected to his people through prayer and work. Some days, there are challenges, yet I face them ardently because Jesus is my “yoke companion.” (Mt 11:29-30) This brings a spirit of joy in my life.
Building up the house of God does not tire or frustrate me because doing the right thing, doing what is needed and doing what is pleasing and acceptable to God bring a great spirit of joy into my life. At the end of the day, before I go to bed, I think about how my day has gone and I wonder what I will do tomorrow, how I will be Jesus’ hands and feet. I want to “give a cup of cold water” (Mt 10:42) to those in need. We believe God is love. If we want to make love visible, then love must be a verb for us. We are called to be aware of opportunities to care and to show God’s love to others. For me, loving my fellow community members brings a spirit of joy.
I asked myself, “Can something be done for the people and families in Harlan Coun- ty?” This is when I began to meet angels and experience miracles. I met people whose time, talents and treasures were offered to the less fortunate. My previous parish, Holy Spirit Parish/UK Newman Center, where I was the associate pastor, took up a second collection on one weekend and sent me the money, with which I opened a “Mercy Fund” to assist those who needed help settling utility bills.
A few months ago, a TV station came to Harlan and filmed a documentary, which showed the lifestyle of the people in Harlan. (Please watch “Raised for a Future that No Longer Exists” on YouTube.) It also showed the work that the Catholic Church is doing for the community. This encouraged me both by words and by the donations that came because of the documentary.
Another angel from the cathedral came to my parish a few months ago and distributed 50 food baskets. Because of these an- gels, I am now in the process of expanding the food pantry at the Holy Trinity Church in Harlan. Of course, there is a spirit of joy in my life working with the angels and experiencing miracles as I strive to serve in the Harlan community.
The people and families here know that when all else fails, the Catholic Church stands by them with arms wide open. I would like to ask the readers for prayers for my people, your brothers and sisters in Christ, who live in poverty. Consider also, prayerfully, a donation to the Diocesan Annual Appeal, which helps parishes in Appalachia in eastern Kentucky, and become part of the host of angels. There is no greater spirit of joy in my life than doing the work that Jesus did.