We were on a parish day pilgrimage to Walsingham. I saw something in a shop window that I knew would make a little gift for one of our people not able to come.
The small shop was busy and I waited in the queue. On the counter was a pile of leaflets headed “Let the Children Live!” and I took one to read.
It was a fascinating story about Peter Walters, a student at St Luke’s, Exeter, who had gone on a low-cost flight to Colombia. He had not carefully read the small print on his flight booking and when he went for the return flight discovered he could not travel for another two weeks.
Those two weeks changed his life. He met and saw the plight of the children of the streets in Medellin. The unfolding story led him finally to becoming a Catholic priest and devoting his life to those children. Wonderful, inspiring. I was held.
My turn to be served. I asked the shopkeeper if Fr Peter would come to our parish. We’d have to wait about 18 months for our turn, he told me. I’ll wait, I said, and we did.
Fr Peter came. His simple complicated story fascinated us, his love for the children captivated us, and we asked if he would come again. He promised.
At the annual conference of the Catholic Men’s Society, I was asked to suggest a guest speaker for the following year, and I proposed Fr Peter. He came, he spoke, he conquered. They voted a large donation from the reserve funds for his work.
George was at the conference. He was approaching retirement and wondering how he might well spend those years. Hearing Fr Peter decided him. George set to fundraising and has raised over £2,600,000 in the last nineteen years. Extraordinary.
What a story. Just because I had to wait my turn in a little Walsingham shop, God caught and used me as part of a wonderful story. Today, at St Joseph’s and the Rosary church, we have another small chapter, and we are part of the story.
God bless Fr Peter, the children he loves and cares for, and those who help him.
(29th October 2017)