Thursday, 16 June 2011

A vocation story: Fr Peter Walters

Last weekend at St Bernadette's, Blackpool - the parish where I am based - we had an appeal for a charity called "Let the Children Live". The appeal was presented by the charity's founder, Fr Peter Walters, and during his address he shared something of his own remarkable vocation story. On a visit to Columbia in the 1980s, he became stranded and ran out of money. Street children - who were amused to find a foreigner who had no money - 'adopted' him and helped him to find food until he was able to return home. He became more aware of their plight and went to see the local bishop - the Archbishop of Medellin, and asked him what the Catholic Church was doing to help the street children. The Archbishop told him of some of the work the Church was doing, but also challenged him: "What will you do to help them?" Fr Peter remarked that he had gone on vacation, but found a vocation. At the time he was a lay Anglican, but went on to be an Anglican priest, and worked for a time at the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham. There, he founded the charity and in due time mobved to Medillin to oversee its work there.
In Medellin Fr Peter was receievd into full communion with the Catholic Church, and was ordained priest of the Diocese of Medellin. Now, as a priest he works with a large group of street children, trying to help them out of poverty, protect them from the many dangers they face, and help them to find happiness as followers of Christ. The charity's base in Medellin is called "Casa Walsingham", thus maintaining the strong link with our national shrine.    
In 2001 Fr Peter met Blessed John Paul II. His vocation story is remarkable, as through the problem of being stranded in a foreign country, God led him towards the work he has done for so many years, and to life as a priest of the Catholic Church. Often the Lord works through seemingly random circumstances to make his voice heard! Fr Peter's charity continues to do great work to support the street children of Medellin - you can read more on their website - click here