Mariathon from Fr Toby Lees

Written by on 09/05/2023

Dear Listeners,

There has been the odd occasion when I’ve walked into a cafe and it seems almost all the seats are taken by groups who have sent one person to get in the queue, whilst they save a table, with the effect that the people who have just got their drinks have nowhere to sit, and the people who are sitting don’t have any drinks. Our worrying about the future can all too easily rob other people of their enjoyment of the present.

This brings me to the subject of our upcoming Mariathon on 23rd and 24th May where we will be raising funds for Radio Maria Nigeria. Now on the face of it, it makes absolutely no sense for us to be raising money for another station as we need all the money we can get to ensure our own survival. But the logic of ‘make ourselves completely secure and then open ourselves up to the need of the other’ is not the logic of the gospel. The logic of the gospel is to trust in God’s Providence. This is not a naive trust, but a trust borne out of all the good things He has already done for us and allows us to not be anxious about the future.

During the Mariathon we will be having interviews with various Nigerian speakers about the state of the Church in Nigeria and we’ll be speaking with some of the priests involved with Radio Maria Nigeria, as well just having a little more a Nigerian flavour to some of our music and other offerings.

I am really excited about the programmes we have coming up and I hope you will enjoy them too, as well as being generous with donations for the projects of Radio Maria Nigeria that we will be supporting. You can read more about those here.

As well as being a chance to support a Radio Maria even younger than us – they only began broadcasting in Nigeria last year – this also feels like an opportunity to give thanks for all that Nigerian Catholics have done for the Church in this country. As a child growing up in south-east London, I remember being so impressed by how beautifully the Nigerians in my parish dressed for Mass, and as the years have gone on, I have seen the manifold ways that Nigerians make the Church in this country so much richer, not least through a great number of priests and religious.

It’s also my way of showing that I truly forgive a Nigerian priest, Fr Pius, with whom I worked at the John Radcliffe hospital when I was a student brother in Oxford. One lunchtime we returned to the presbytery to get something to eat. He served me some jollof rice and seconds later the tears were streaming from my eyes – I later found out he liked hot food even by Nigerian standards – and as I cried and begged for yoghurt or milk… just something to stop the burn, Fr Pius simply laughed and said, ‘Oh my goodness, I have killed the young monk, I have killed the young monk!’ Fr Pius, all is forgiven!

God bless,

Fr Toby Lees OP

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