As I write this post Fr. John Prager is in the air returning to Quito, Ecuador, to resume his ministry among the Daughters of Charity. This was unthinkable seven months ago… even just seven weeks ago! The day before he left our provincial house in Germantown I asked him for his reflections about his extraordinary journey back to health and his expectations as he returns to the ministry he loves.
His thoughts were centered on “How lucky I am!”. He knows that he has defied expectations at every step of the way. All he can think of is the many blessings from the prayers and support of his family, the Congregation of the Mission, the Daughters of Charity, his many friends and co-laborers. Their prayers guided the many medical professionals so instrumental in his recovery.
Now with the clearance from many members of the medical community he returns to ministry in Ecuador. He has been told that escaped major damage to his heart. It is now functioning at near normal capacity for someone his age. The same for his pulmonary functions. After being released from Kindred Hospital in Philadelphia, at St. Catherine’s he worked at regaining a sense of balance that he lost from so many months on his back. He now functions at about 80% overall capacity.
Above all, he is grateful for God’s special protection. At another level, he is also grateful that he was in a near comatose state during most of the long months of his recovery. The day before he left St. Catherine’s infirmary the confreres imparted a special blessing on him during Eucharist.
When he lands in Quito with its 10,000 foot altitude he expects it will take him about 10 days to get acclimatized. Fortunately, he lives at the Provincial House where there are many nurses in residence and close to the hospital. (Someone quipped that in critical situations every Daughter of Charity turns magically into a nurse!)
He looks forward to returning to his duties Director of the Daughters of Charity. He describes these duties as primarily pastoral. This in contrast to another era where Directors exercised various forms of legislative authority. Since his term as Provincial of the Vincentians in Ecuador was coming to an end he resigned from this position.
As he resumes responsibilities he will serve some 300 sisters distributed in 42 communities mostly in less densely populated areas than the two large cities of Quito and Guayaquil. Over the course of a year, he speaks with almost all 300 sisters, usually in the context of their annual retreat.
He firmly believes that the Daughters do unbelievable things for and with the poor. “They serve the poorest of the poor in ways it is hard to believe” They certainly live Pope Francis’ call to have the smell of the sheep. Video presentation
Ecuador is a country straddling the equator on South America’s west coast. Its diverse landscape encompasses Amazon jungle, Andean highlands and the wildlife-rich Galápagos Islands. In the Andean foothills at an elevation of 2,850m, Quito, the capital, is known for its largely intact Spanish colonial center, with decorated 16th- and 17th-century palaces and religious sites, like the ornate Compañía de Jesús Church.
Summary of his ministries since ordination in 1982
* Lecturer, Vincentian Center for International Formation, Paris
* Lecturer, Vincentian Internal Seminary, USA, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, and Ireland
REV. JOHN P. PRAGER, C.M.
Casa Provincial San Carlos
Bolivar 0e6 110 e Ibarra