By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD


I was in Kukurantumi, one of our SVD parishes in Ghana. I went around the compound and saw their palm and coffee plantation. I commended them for their venture and said, ‘You plant your own coffee; you drink your own coffee. This is what we call self-sufficiency.’ However, one of the SVD priests objected, ‘But I take only tea!’ Oh, I forgot, not everybody drinks coffee.


At the Dutch Embassy in Accra, Ghana, I applied for a visa for the Netherlands.  The young Dutch lady asked me, ‘Are you married?’ ‘No!’ I replied. ‘So why do you need to take this renewal course in Steyl?’ she continued. Inspired, I answered, ‘Because our SVD Motherhouse is in Steyl and we would like to re-root ourselves, in a kind of eternal bond, to the spirituality of our founder so that he and we may have a mystical, eschatological reunion . . .’ As soon as the lady heard the words ‘mystical, eschatological’, she looked at me seriously and said, ‘Okay, that’s enough!’ I got my visa with no problem.


Nanay Emmy is a benefactress of both the Pink Sisters and the Missionaries of Charity in New Washington, Aklan. In my short stay there, she used to join us for breakfast. She told us, ‘If I attend Mass at the Missionaries of Charity, I sing with all my heart because each of us sings with our own notes. But the Pink Sisters sing in one beautiful, angelic voice so I choose to just listen instead of singing.’ Hmm, I think I can relate to Nanay Emmy.


I was passing through Fiumicino Airport in Rome. The man checking the bags asked me, ‘What’s in your bag?’ ‘Personal belongings, toothpaste, dirty clothes…’ As if not convinced, he asked me to open it. So I did what he said. And indeed he saw my personal belongings, toothpaste, dirty clothes and who knows what else. With big angry eyes, he snapped, ‘Close it!’