Melbourne priest joins Columbans in Peru

Fulfilling a longstanding yearning to work with the poor, a parish priest from Melbourne's north-west, Fr Joe Ruys, will join Columban missionaries as a volunteer in Peru for the next three years.

In an interview with the Columban publication The Far East, Fr Ruys, parish priest of Holy Child parish in Dallas, Victoria, said that he was looking for a change from parish work and an opportunity to work with the poor.

"I have been at Holy Child parish for 14 years. I know it's time to move on and look at what other ministry I might do whether it be to go to another parish or do missionary work," he said.

"For many years I have had a yearning to work with the poor. This is one of the reasons I went to Holy Child parish in the first place; working with the poor in another country is an extension of that."

Fr Ruys told The Far East that he is looking forward to the experience of working in Peru and learning a new language.

"I haven't had any experience in South America. ... I did a cross-cultural course in Sydney and it was an eye-opener. We heard a number of stories from people who have worked in South America; some were good, they spoke of the friendliness and warmth while other stories were about the corruption and hardships," he said.

"One thing that will be hard is the language and living in a world where I don't know what is going on around me because I can't follow the idiom. This is all part of the journey of growth that is ahead of me."

Fr Ruys said his family is very supportive of his decision to volunteer overseas but the hardest challenge, he says, would be to part with his parish.

"It's harder to do than leave my family," he said in the interview, "I have put a lot of years in and the parish has given me a lot in return."

"As I say Mass at Holy Child Church I look around and say to myself, 'I did their wedding, I buried their loved one and I saw that person through a sickness.' I have these personal memories of the relationships I have with the people.

"You have to say goodbye, it has to happen some time," he said.

It's now or never (Far East, July 2006)
Far East Magazine

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St Columban's Missionary Society, Australia and New Zealand
Columban Missionaries
Columban Missionaries Peru
Holy Child Parish, Dallas, Victoria

Sydney priest's pain and reward during 24 years in Peru (CathNews 27/6/05)

7 Jul 2006