Fr Brian Vale
Choosing to work as a priest in a foreign country or in a cross-cultural context has brought me many gifts as well as challenges. There are highs and lows in the experiences of being challenged to grow in one’s understanding of how different cultures see life and live it. Through the joys and pains one acquires new eyes, hands and feet to use according to the needs of different life situations.
Living and working as a Columban priest in Japan for 20 years challenged me to adopt new ways of relating to people and to God. The Japanese appreciation of beauty in nature and art helped me discover new dimensions of God the Creator. Moving from an individualist to a group-centred culture affected the way I celebrated Eucharist, the Sacraments and taught religion.
Hopefully I have more to learn from similar experiences. I try to be a ‘bridge’ person in welcoming migrants into my own country, Aotearoa/New Zealand. There are many occasions, such as at parish Eucharists, where we can learn to widen our horizons and reach out to those from different cultures.