Fr Kevin Cantwell SVD celebrates 60 years as a member of the Society of the Divine Word this year, and says his missionary zeal is as strong as ever.
Fr Kevin was born in Tully, North Queensland on October 14, 1927 and spent most of his childhood in Cairns. He was educated at St Monica’s school by the Sisters of Mercy and then at St Augustine’s, by the Marist Brothers.
In 1942 his school was evacuated from the coast because of the Japanese advances through New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and he became a boarder at Lake Barrine, situated on the Tableland behind Cairns.
Five years ago, during the time of discernment for the first assignment, Fr Tim Norton asked me whether I was willing to name Thailand as one of my choices. He insisted that I was needed there. I was not prepared for that at the time. It was venturing into unknown territory. However I took on the challenge! Yes, I have encountered some difficulties, one of which was learning a language that, when written, looks a bit like worms. Buddhism is the highly respected national religion, making it difficult for Christianity to have any impact. I was not sure what I was expected to do.
About 250 people gathered recently in Nong Bua Lamphu, Thailand, for a joyous celebration with Br Damien Lunders SVD as he marked his Golden Jubilee of taking vows as a Divine Word Missionary.
SVD Australian Provincial, Fr Tim Norton, and Fr Jim Knight were also among those who celebrated the milestone with Br Damien.
Bishop Joseph of the Udon Thani Diocese presided at Mass and also blessed the new SVD house.
I am working in a parish called Good Shepherd in a small mining town called Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The parish is an African potpourri with locals and mine workers from all over the African continent trying to earn a living with the three mines situated beside the town. The surrounding villages consist of the Sepedi and Shangan speaking people, two of the 14 officially recognised languages of the country. Mozambique is about 80km to the east, and the Zimbabwe and Botswana borders about 150km to the north, thus this place is also a stopover for travellers.