A few weeks ago the closing mass for the yearlong celebration of Maryknoll’s Hundredth Anniversary of the First Sending took place. And while this celebration has come and gone, much like the original sending ceremony on September 7, 1918, the missioners journeys continue and for that first group were just beginning. Now we look to see 100 years later how their mission began once the transportation portion of their program had ended. It was a time to dig deep and begin their mission work that still continues to this very day. I came across this letter written by Fr. Thomas Frederick Price, co-founder of Maryknoll and one of the first four missioners sent abroad, only a few months into his overseas mission. The letter was written on February 24, 1919 from the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Yeung Kong, Province of Kwong Tung, China. Here he reflects on his recent experiences and sends words of encouragement for those who will follow.
“My dear Young Confreres in Christ,
Your Xmas letter with its generous and touching gift came to us some days ago and brought us much joy and consolation. We thank you very much. It is astonishing what feelings come over a missionary when he comes to this distant country and realizes for the first time that he stands practically alone […] dependent solely upon God for support. This effect was heightened in our case by the war conditions which prevented little communication (and under difficult conditions) with America so that some of us began to wonder (thought we knew that such could not be the case) whether our people had forgotten us. In this state of affairs we received your warm hearted letter and your generous gift which spoke more eloquently of love and sacrifice than any words could have done. Be sure that we appreciate to the fullest both your words and your gift.
When you come out here many suprises will await you that will test your missionary spirit. Dig deep the foundations of humility and build strongly of love and self sacrifice for the work is such that it will force from you every particle of moral strength within. Prepare well — God send you to us soon[.]
Again we thank you – God and our Immaculate Mother bless you to the fullest!
Fraternally your servant, In C.J.C.
Thos. F. Price