After 25 years in the priesthood, Fr. Patrick Render was given time for a sabbatical to discern the future direction for his life. He shares some of the wisdom he gained during that time.

I remember one of the counselors said to me, you know, I thought I had worked through a lot of issues in my life earlier, at earlier stages in my life. And he said to me, ‘You know, it’s sort of like a helix. That there’s an issue in your life that you’ve experienced, that you’ve process at one point, and you move along in your journey, but you go back through it again at a different stage in your life, at a different time in your life. And you have to reprocess all that again from where you are now, and draw out of them something new and something different that you take with you now that you couldn’t have done when you were twenty-four.’ And I see it now with people approaching death, who go back and they worry about mistakes that they’ve made earlier in life. Did I really confess that? Did I really, was I really sorry? Did I really tell the whole truth? Did I really change, or did I just keep doing being the same? And all that anxiety about facing God with the possibility that I haven’t done it right. You know, that’s the patience of God. You may make stupid choices, you may make mistakes, you may fall on your face. But the parent who never gives up on the kid is the God who never gives up on us.

MORE STORIES

Marijke Elsenburg

HopeYears later, Debby, the daughter of a good friend, came to visit. She had just discovered that she was unintentionally pregnant. I held back from saying much; I only listened. I was just there, for her and with her. There was trust. She felt welcome and safe. The picture of her daughter now hangs in my living room.

VIEW THIS STORY

Margaret Irwin West

HopeIrish artist Margaret Irwin West believes that hope is like the sun: even if you can’t see it, it’s always there. In this audio clip, she discusses what inspires her artwork.

VIEW THIS STORY

Chan Jae Lee

DeathChan Jae Lee is the 76-year-old founder of Drawings for My Grandchildren, a popular Instagram account (@drawings_for_my_grandchildren) in which he and his wife create paintings and stories for their grandchildren in the U.S. Lee and his wife live in Korea.

VIEW THIS STORY

Maria Soerinah Hoetomo

HopeI protested to God. I was angry with him. I felt he was unfair to my family. I did not want to go to church, and I did not pray anymore. I did not want to communicate with the ‘evil’ God. Then one day I found an image of a cross torn in two on the floor in our home. I picked up the pieces and taped it back together. I did not know who tore it up and left it scattered there. However, the event that day changed everything. I cried, staring at the scarred image of the broken cross. I remembered the suffering of Jesus. It was like I was seeing his sorrow and pain right in front of me.

VIEW THIS STORY

Greg Boyle, SJ

HopeWith the help of parishioners and the local business community in Los Angeles, Greg Boyle has worked to build Homeboy Industries into one of the largest, most comprehensive, and most successful gang intervention, rehabilitation, and reentry programs in the United States. In this audio clip, he discusses God’s loving mercy. [Greg Boyle, SJ] I think this place reminds you that we need a better God than the one we have, you know? Sometimes we settle for this lesser God, this partial God, this puny God, this more realistic God, than the God we actually have. But these folks remind you of the God who we actually have.

VIEW THIS STORY

Joseph Gicheru Chege

StruggleI remember seeing soldiers coming home after the war in 1945 when I was a young boy. We were scared. We were told that Hitler and the French and British would be coming to Nairobi to have some tea and that we should put out our lamps. The French ended up settling in Isiolo, the Germans in Kilimanjaro, and the British Empire took over our country. That was a big deal—it shocked us all. We used to eat our food in the dark because we were afraid of getting bombed.

VIEW THIS STORY