Belgian Fr Paul Staes Scheut MissionsBelgian Fr Paul Staes Scheut MissionsWhen was the last time you had fun?
This question sounds as if “having fun” is something of a special achievement, like a football player scoring a hat-trick. If it refers to enjoying myself, I can say that I truly enjoy most of what I do, by choice or by assignment.

Name an occasion you felt embarrassed/humiliated.
When I was desperately looking for a toilet in a Toa Payoh mall, I ended up with smelly pants and in need of a thorough clean-up. Diminished control: side-effect of my recent radiation therapy for prostate cancer. I now travel around with “spare underwear”.

Name an occasion/incident when you felt God was far away.
It’s not so much a question of feeling God far away but, rather, that at times I find myself not living in a close relationship with the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit. This happens when I’m concerned mainly about my own preferences or likes and dislikes.

What has sustained your life as a Religious, especially in the face of challenges/changes?
Closeness to the people I’m called to serve. As religious missionaries, we CICM often end up not living in a community of confreres, not even in a community at all. Nevertheless closeness to people is our crucial support.

What was one of the biggest challenges you have faced as a Religious and how did you deal with it?
In 1977, after years of teaching moral theology in the Philippines, I could finally go and study Tagalog and get involved in parish ministry. Then, unexpectedly, I was asked to serve in the US in charge of direct mail fund raising. I went and enjoyed it.

What aspect of Religious life has brought you most joy?
Being with confreres, sharing the same inspiration and the same vision, exchanging our “life stories” and recalling the people who were our companions on the journey.

What are the usual distractions during your prayer time? What do you do about them?
I easily doze off, even between two verses of a psalm when alternating with one confrere. When alone, like during meditation, this sometimes turns into a time of peaceful sleep. I thank the Lord for it and enjoy it.

What is the Lord calling you to do/be in this period of your life as a Religious, if any?
At 78+, I am challenged to graciously let go of former responsibilities and attachments while still putting in “my best”. Trying to become milder in my judgments and gentler in contacts.

What do you like doing most when with your biological family?
Playing cards with family and visiting old friends.

Favourite food?
Having lived in many countries, I have developed an “open taste” for whatever is new, as long as I don’t have to eat it every day. Now I love kuay pie tee, jiaozi, spring rolls, wonton noodles, durians. Also mussels with fries, cannelloni, filet mignon steak… you name it. Also rice pudding, my signature dessert.

What do you usually do to relax?
It depends on what’s possible: reading historical novels, listening to music, watching a show (anywhere), playing cards (at home), mahjong (in Philippines and here), fishing (in US).


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