BY Ian Dunn | October 28 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

6-FR-CHAMBERS

Telling tale of walking with the poor

— SCO contributor, Fr Martin Chambers, launches book on his time in the missions in Ecuador

Ayrshire priest Fr Martin Chambers will launch his book Walking with the Poor at his parish, St Matthew’s Kilmarnock next week.

The book covers his five years in the missions living and working in Ecuador during which time Fr Chambers also wrote for the SCO about his missionary life.

The book has a foreword from Bishop Emeritus Maurice Taylor of Galloway who originally gave Fr Chambers leave from Galloway to go to the missions.

“Read Fr Martin’s story and be inspired that such good things still occur in out world and in our Church,” Bishop Taylor writes.

Calling

Fr Chambers was part of the Missionary Society of St James the Apostle and recalled becoming interested in missionary work after a letter was sent out by Bishop Taylor asking his priests to consider it.

“I was immediately enthused by the prospect,” he recalled. “I remember praying about it a lot.”

However he knew it would not be an easy decision.

“One of the big things was knowing I would have to live apart from my family who I’m very close to, as well as leaving behind my friends, and the football!” he recalled. “But they were very supportive, my family said they would miss me but if it was what I wanted to do I should go for it.”

When he finally decided to go to the missions, and was selected by the society of St Joseph, he was sent to Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador.

“I remember looking out the window of my house on the first night and just seeing mile after mile of houses made of bamboo,” he said. “It was extreme poverty. I wondered what I was getting myself into.”

However in time he came to love the ironically named shantytown of Neuvo Prospero where he was based and especially the people there.

“The greatest joy of my time as a missionary priest came in walking the dusty streets of the shanty town, meeting the poor people, visiting their homes and hearing their joys and sorrows,” he said.

Education

Fr Chambers also believes that there is much we can learn from the Ecuadorian people.

“Even though they had nothing, they had such joy,” he said. “Despite all the poverty there was a lot of happiness there. When I came back to Scotland, I was struck by how miserable a lot of people seemed. We have so much in comparison yet often it seems we don’t know how to be happy.”

Since he returned to Scotland he has been keen to build links between his home country and Ecuador.

When he spoke to the SCO he was just about to take a group of nine sixth year students from the St Joseph’s Academy in Kilmarnock youth group to Ecuador.

“We have an exchange programme,” he explained. “And next year a group of young people from Guayaquil will come here. It’s about how we can help them and how they can help us. But I think it will be a wonderful experience for the Scottish kids we are taking out with us and a wonderful experience for the two adults who are coming out as well.”

For Fr Chambers, going back will feel almost like a homecoming.

“I’m excited to see my old friends and just pleased to be going back and seeing people,” he said. “I was there for a long time, so it will feel a bit like going home.”

— Launch is November 4, 2pm at St Matthew’s church hall.

— ian@sconews.co.uk

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