‘Here I am. Send me’

By Robert Ellsberg, 28 December 2021
Diocese of Parramatta pilgrims and members of the faithful in prayer at the 2019 Australian Catholic Youth Festival Perth Commissioning Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


A section of the remarks by Robert Ellsberg at the Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Sending Ceremony in the Chapel of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Ossining, New York, 11 December 2021

This is called a “Sending Ceremony,” and that is echoed in the reading from Isaiah, where God asks the prophet, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” and he replies: “Here I am, send me!”

And that is a reminder of who is doing the sending here, which is ultimately not Maryknoll. Your presence today is in response to a question that was at some point planted in your hearts: “Whom shall I send?” And you have answered, “Here I am, send me!” You have consented to embark on a journey rooted in God’s own overflowing love, and in turn to find God among the people you will meet and accompany in their joys and sorrows, their struggles and celebrations.

The bold declaration “Here I am! Send me!” is not just something to say the day you arrived at Maryknoll, or today in this sending ceremony. It is something to be renewed and repeated over and over.

Because there will be days ahead when you may question this bold declaration, when you will say, “What was I thinking? What was this for? Could you send me somewhere else?” But you are not being sent to a particular place, whether El Salvador, or Brazil, or Kenya. They are not your final destination. The sending and being sent is itself the place — an ongoing, daily invitation to meet God along the way, on the journey, among God’s pilgrim people. Some days you will travel with the sun at your back and know exactly where you are going. On other days you may travel in darkness.

But you have chosen to accept that invitation, that call. And for those who respond to that call each day is an opportunity to say, “Here I am! Send me!”

To continue reading these remarks, click here.

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher of Maryknoll’s Orbis Books. He is the author of many books, including All Saints, The Saints’ Guide to Happiness, and Blessed Among Us.

With thanks to the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, a Catholic organization inspired by the mission of Jesus to live and work with poor communities in Africa, Asia and the Americas, responding to basic needs and helping to create a more just and compassionate world, where this article originally appeared.


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