A Giant Challenge...
Just over fifty years ago, I and my fellow student teachers crowded into a lecture hall and strained to make out a grainy grey image on a very small TV. The world held its collective breath that day as millions of people watched the almost unbelievable spectacle of human beings walking on the moon. People all over the world were awe-struck at the realisation that they were watching history unfold as a dream that had hitherto seemed impossible was fulfilled.
In recent weeks, we’ve re-lived this event. We’ve pondered its significance for humankind and wondered about possibilities for the future. Of course, back then, the world was in the midst of the Cold War and space exploration was one aspect of a competition between opposing political ideologies. It is true to say, however, that without this venture, we would never have had access to many major technological advances that we now take for granted and our world could be vastly different.
In 1962, US President John F Kennedy announced to the nation: “We commit ourselves, by the end of this decade, to put a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth. We do this, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” Just imagine the morning after as the scientists, engineers and others at NASA sat down to consider how they were going to accomplish the enormous task set before them. The details would have been mind-boggling as they set out to plan the program that, in seven short years, would achieve their goal. They knew that every advance would be accomplished only through a long series of steps during which there would be multiple opportunities for something to go wrong. And sometimes, it did. In fact, Apollo space flights had a very inauspicious beginning when, on 27 January 1967, a devastating fire swept through the Apollo 1 capsule as it sat on the launchpad, killing all three astronauts inside. Nevertheless, step-by-step through trial and error, success and failure, persistence, ingenuity, teamwork and extraordinary courage, the task was accomplished.
The Apollo 11 moon landing was the realisation of an astonishing dream – the consequence of a challenging vision, thorough planning, teamwork, ingenuity, persistence and courage. If any of these had been missing, the whole Apollo program and the feat of putting a human on the moon would not have happened.
When you think about it, these same elements – vision, planning, teamwork, ingenuity, persistence and courage - are necessary for the success of the adventure that is Kildare Ministries, and all of us who are part of this community would do well to reflect on how we are living out the challenge articulated in our Vision and Mission statements and the Living Justice Charter. If people observed us at our daily work, would they see real commitment to mission from each person in our individual ministries and roles? Would they observe us continually critiquing and tweaking our plans so as to respond to emerging needs and to the inevitable challenges that confront us along the way? Would they see real teamwork within and between our ministries, with each of us, regardless of position or title, contributing his or her expertise and giftedness, and supporting each other in accomplishing the mission? Would they recognise in us the courage to stand outside the mainstream when necessary, pointing to a greater reality so as to build a community of justice and peace? And would they see us persisting in the face of set-backs, disagreements, negative criticism, opposition or even ridicule? Would they be able to discern evidence of us consciously and purposefully working towards a community where all people are valued, where all creation is recognised as sacred and where hope, justice and courage are our hallmarks?
As Pope Francis reflected on July 21 in St Peter’s Square, “May the memory of that great step for humanity ignite the desire to progress together towards even greater goals: more dignity for the weak, more justice among peoples, more future for our common home.” This is really our Kildare Ministries’ mission and challenge. Are you up for your part in it?
Trustee - Kildare Ministries