Mali Visit: Preparing for the Journey

Brandon Barlow is from the Diocese of Green Bay. He is in his second year of Pre-theology at Mundelein Seminary. He participated in a CRS Global Fellows immersion trip to Mali in February.

Our group of 11 travelers has just concluded our time of preparation at Catholic Relief Services headquarters in Baltimore. This trip to Mali has been a long time in the making, including conference calls, packing lists, itineraries and spiritual reflections. The 2 CRS employees, 3 priests and 7 seminaries have bonded together fairly well thus far. Some of us, like Mikaele Sansone, CRS’ Global Fellows Program Officer, and Fr. Jerry, have a lot of experience traversing the globe. Others, like David and me, will be taking our first journey beyond our home continent.

The main fruit of our time in preparation thus far has been in developing a greater understanding of the current situation in Mali and our purpose in going on this visit. As a group, we developed four main objectives/goals in order to help direct our trip. The first among these is to be immersed fully into the people, livelihood, and culture of the people of Mali. Additionally, we hope to experience the work of CRS, including both the staff and the beneficiaries. One of the unifying characteristics of those going on this journey is the Catholic faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we hope to live in a manner worthy of the calling as we journey on our way. Finally, we hope to experience a personal transformation as we take in the many encounters and experiences of this trip.

It is important for each of us to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, in whatever way God desires to move us.

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