What are missioners experiencing while ministering both near and far? Here are two brief tales that give you a glimpse into a moment of their mission work. Fr. John B. Gallagher takes us into a flooded jungle in Riberalta, Bolivia and Sr. Dora Nuetzi takes us into a religion class in Ossining, New York.

“Trip Through Tree-tops

High water in the Beni River has caused unusual and novel traveling conditions in this section of the Pando. On my way to the mission at Ivon, a few days ago, it was necessary to leave my horse at a chaco and go ahead on foot to the edge of a flooded part of the jungle. A canoe was summoned by blowing on a trumpet made of an old ox’s horn, which sounded just like a fog horn.

The porters acknowledged by banging on a hollow log canoe. As we paddled along, the water was so high that it was possible to reach out and examine nests high in the trees. We surprised many beautiful birds such as parakeets, cranes, papagallos, pheasants, large and small parrots, and many others[.]

There were plenty of alligators, electric eels, and man-eating fish, handy. They were having a grand time sloshing around in the jungle. After the canoe ride there was a hike of perhaps twenty minutes through a downpour that drenched me. Being soaked, however, did not excuse me from shaking hands with about fifty of my people who came out with greetings. They seemed to come around better than ever for evening devotions and Mass the next morning. That made the difficult trip all the more worth while.”

Fr. John B. Gallagher, The Field Afar, Vol XXXVIII, No. 6-7, July-August 1944

Sr. Dora Nuetzi taking care of cuts and bruises during her time as a missioner in the Marshall Islands, circa 2005

“Teaching religion to fifth-graders at our neighboring parish, St. Ann’s Church in Ossining, N.Y., is a wonderful experience. I usually bless each child as they leave the classroom. When the temperature went down to zero degrees this winter, I told the children to zip up their jackets before they left the classroom. Oddly enough, I didn’t recognize one of the last students to leave. He was zippered up to the top of his head and none of his face was visible. Then I realized he had on a Spider Man jacket and hood and could see through the black material covering his eyes.

Since I wasn’t about to unmask a superhero, I blessed the jacket and sent the little crime fighter off to have a safe journey home.”

Sr. Dora Nuetzi, Maryknoll Magazine, Vol 108, No. 4, July/August 2014