His mission starts with a smile
BY TONI CASHNELLI
It isn’t enough to share the Good News.
You have to be the Good News.
It’s a tall order for any missionary. But Fr. Colin King, rarely seen without a smile, seems well-suited to the task.
"Those who know you, with your great laugh, know you will bring the joy of living the Gospel to the people of Jamaica," homilist Fr. Jeff Scheeler predicted July 2 during the missioning of Colin at St. Anthony Shrine in Cincinnati.
Three weeks after being ordained a priest, Colin was taking another immeasurable leap of faith. Dozens of friars joined Colin’s parents, sister and friends at St. Anthony Shrine for a sendoff that reflected their admiration and affection. It was the second time in a month that a friar who calls himself "an introvert" was the center of attention – called forth, presented, questioned and deemed worthy.
Colin’s mission was succinctly spelled out in bold letters on a sign at the foot of the Shrine driveway:
FR COLIN – LIVE AND PREACH GOOD NEWS IN JAMAICA!
That day, everyone driving up Colerain Avenue got the message, a message reinforced in the ceremony by readings that have inspired and motivated missionaries through the ages. Colin’s dad, Tunney King, read the passage from Isaiah describing the missionary as one whose life is defined by the ability to preach, heal, comfort and proclaim the Gospel. Provincial Minister Mark Soehner read the powerful commission Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations."
In his homily Jeff recalled the stirring ritual last month "when Colin was called to the mission of being a priest," and his brother priests invoked the Holy Spirit as, one by one, they placed their hands on his head.
Echoing Matthew, Jeff said to Colin, "You are sent today to do all these things: to bring Good News; to be Good News; to bind up what is broken; to share the Good News of God’s great love."
But he won’t be going alone. "Colin is not just going to Jamaica because he wants to. We are sending him. He goes in our name. As he goes, we are there as well."
"Here I am"
Colin’s missioning parallels the call issued in Ite, Nuntiate ("Go and announce"), the recently published guidelines for new forms and new expressions of Franciscan life. "Jesus said to Mary, ‘Go tell my brothers of the Good News.’ Today we are continuing that tradition. Colin, ‘Ite, Nuntiate’ – go and announce the Good News of God’s love."
In his day, Jeff said, "St. Francis heard two calls, one as he prayed before the San Damiano Cross: ‘Go rebuild my house.’ Another came from a person with leprosy: ‘Francis, come to me, share your life, tell me of your experience with God.’ Colin, you’ve experienced this.
"We’re sending you to be a Franciscan presence. We echo the words of Jesus to Mary. We echo the call Francis heard. Thank you for your incredibly generous response, for your willingness to be far away" in Jamaica. "You’re saying, ‘Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.’"
At the reception that followed, Colin relaxed with his smiling parents and sister Adrienne. Dad showed off the pocket emblem on his polo shirt, the Jamaican flag. Mom Norah announced they’ll be visiting Colin in January. Amidst good-natured ribbing, their son posed for photos with anyone and everyone.
A friar sitting nearby took it all in. When Colin goes to Jamaica, he said, "I think he’s going to bring a lot of laughter."