Priest reaches thousands online from regional NSW
A Tamworth priest has published a daily devotional after readers of his website said his ‘capsules for the day’ have changed their lives.
Father Francis Afu began writing short and powerful scripture-inspired reflections online about faith and the experiences of everyday life after he was inspired by Pope Francis’s opening words at World Youth Day in 2016.
“He said, ‘Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is calling you to leave your mark in the world, are you up to it?’,” Fr Francis recalled.
“Later at the vigil he said, ‘Do not be a couch potato’ and it was as though he was speaking directly to me.
“I think we can be very complacent as priests.
“We celebrate Mass, hear confession and visit the sick and those things are important but we can reduce our whole life to simply being functionaries.
“When I head those words from Pope Francis, part of what I took them to mean was to not just be a system man doing what you have to but to use what God has given you to be creative and look for new avenues [to spread the Gospel].”
“I took that to mean do not be just a system man…be creative and look for new avenues”
The assistant priest at Saint Nicholas’ Parish in Tamworth has dedicated his ministry to praying for healthy marriages, and wrote his first ‘capsule’ to encourage a couple to forgive one another.
In 2018 Fr Francis was contacted by a South African priest who wanted to let him know that someone on the point of suicide had chosen to continue living after seeing a post on the topic on his website, Dabar.online (Dabar is Hebrew for ‘Word of God’).
In part that entry reads, “there is someone who feels that way too. But he chooses to live. He lives because he can see beyond the present. He can see the good that the future holds”.
Capsules appeal to younger people
Glen Innes parish priest Fr Gordon Gleeson in the introduction to Fr Francis’ book says that his writings are reaching younger generations at a time when the Church is struggling to connect with them.
“It is not a document to be shelved and quoted,” Fr Gleeson said.
“It is an invitation to ‘theologise the day’ to make sense of the grace at work in the life of the believer and to embrace God’s offer of friendship in Jesus Christ and see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and grow hearts that long to know the Living and Loving One.”
Fr Francis agrees that they do seem to ‘cut through’ to young people.
“A capsule is small and is only there to carry the medicine, which in this case is the Word of God,” Fr Francis said.
“When it has been listened to, that is what affects change; not the words I write but the Spirit behind them.”
This year the Nigerian-born priest edited 1000 online ‘capsules’ down to 365 as the basis of Capsule For The Day: A daily devotional.
The book is available in paperback and hardcover from Catholic bookstores and online booksellers and is for “the ordinary man or woman who is looking to strengthen their relationship with God, particularly those who are struggling in life”, Fr Francis said.
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