This month of October is dedicated to the Missions and the great missionary command of the risen Lord to 'Go make disciples of all nations' (Matt. 28:19). In the words of Pope Francis, the Church exists not for herself but has been commissioned by Christ to go forth into the world with the Good News: 'The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved' (The Joy of the Gospel, 24).
One man who 'went forth' back in the 1960's was a Tipperary man named Billy Oliver O'Neill. He came east to St Peter's College, Wexford, where he attended secondary school and then studied for the priesthood. He was ordained for the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia in the United States where he has spent all of his priestly life.
During the summer past, we caught up with Msgr Billy Oliver on one of his frequent trips back to Wexford as we asked him to share his story of 'going forth' into the mission territory of North America in the late 1960's where the Church has grown and expanded from small beginnings.
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