Where life may take you…


You are where you are. Is it where you want to be?

Are you the kind of person who knew, from a very early age, what you wanted to be, focussed, achieved, got on and did it?

The kind of person who always wanted to be a clinician. Bandaged up their wounded Teddy, got three dozen star A Levels, went to uni, never went to a party and ended up and exhausted junior doctor or a knackered nurse… but doing what you love.

Doing what you want to do, a rare trick… few pull it off. Life is often a compromise. Happenstance and love gets in the way. Practicality intervenes. Stuff happens.

I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I’m still waiting. Few of us are, truly, masters of our own destiny, no matter what the self-help gurus tell us.

I know a man who always wanted to be a nurse. It was at a time when male nurses where rare. They still are, all too rare.

My man, Steven, wanted to be a nurse. Following a degree in philosophy and theology at King’s, he did it.

In the days when being a nurse meant learning to do it on the wards; early, late and night shift patterns, draconian ward sisters and cantankerous consultants, he did it.

The only male nurse in his set. Nurse he may have been but also, a prankster, a clubber, with a wicked sense of humour.

But life had more for Steven. He had another ambition. He didn’t hide it. He wanted to be a priest. And that is what he became. A prankster, a clubber with a wicked sense of humour, a nurse and a priest.

But there was more. Not for Steven, a vicar on a bicycle, drinking half-pints of warm shandy with wealthily parishioners in the home counties. Not a priest in an inner city, with a youth-club and a snooker table.

Steven went to Rome and became a Franciscan Monk. Their parish is the Holy Land. He went to the seminary at Ein Karem just outside Jerusalem, became ordained a Priest and a Monk and Steven became Father John Luke Gregory, OFM.

Life wasn’t finished with him. Next, the Head-Cantor at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and then, to become Vicar General of the Islands of Rhodes and Kos.

Tell that to the careers advisor at school. What do you want to be when you grow up, boy? Well, sir…

It’s not a bad gig, is it? There’s a lot to give up, to get it. Family, kids and so much of what we all take for granted.

Who knows where life will take you?

Steven, or Father John’s life has taken him, now, to something new. He is running the help for people who’s life has taken them through an unexpected turn.

Steven is with children and families, who, through no fault of their own, have ended up the collateral damage of wars, conflict and economic disaster.

The children have come from Syria, in a wooden boat, ship wrecked off the Island of Rhodes. Three died. Thirty hospitalised. Since then hundreds more families have turned up, from Africa to escape civil war, boy soldiers and others fleeing persecution and abuse.

What does it take for a family to stuff everything they have in a bin-bag, leave their homes, furniture and memories and flee to foreign lands, across the sea. My guess, fear. The fear of staying outweighs the fear of fleeing.

I bet none of them thought life would take them on that journey…

This is all about Father John. The prankster, the clubber with a wicked sense of humour, nurse, priest, monk and now aid worker, running a refugee camp with almost no money, lots of inspiration, love, innovation and faith.

If you’d like to help my friend Fr John, you can, here. A few clicks, a few quid you can become the difference, and help a fabulous, inspirational man.

After all, you never know where life might take you.

Thank you.

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Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.