Issue Date: December 21, 2007
Missionary builds trust, aids sick children
By SUE SCHULZETENBERG
For 32 years, Maryknoll Fr. Bob McCahill has lived among the poor in Bangladesh, riding his bike through the streets and helping the sick to get the care they need.
The 69-year-old priest, who has been called the Mother Teresa of Maryknoll, encourages families to seek medical treatment for their sick children and often accompanies them to hospitals to make sure their children are admitted.
For the last 20 years he has moved to a new place about every three years. McCahill, who spent 11 years in the Philippines before serving in Bangladesh, said local residents will not do the work he does if he is around because they do not want to appear that they are in competition with him. Thats why he stays in an area just long enough to create an impression, build trust and produce a service for the people, the vast majority of whom are Muslims.
Its a process that doesnt happen immediately. The priest said Bangladeshis tend to think Christian missionaries are looking to convert people, so he always begins his work by explaining that he does what Jesus did, doing good and healing, which is work they respect.
After traveling on his bicycle to seek out ailing children, the priest eventually persuades their parents of the need for medical attention for conditions such as cerebral palsy, cleft lip, burns and tumors.
By helping children and their parents with safe transportation to hospitals, he gains trust. He also helps pay for the necessary medications through donations sent to him by his extended family.
The best example I can give is to give them things and not ask for anything in return, he told The St. Cloud Visitor, diocesan newspaper of St. Cloud, during a June visit to the United States.
National Catholic Reporter, December 21, 2007
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