The Native Returns Home
Friday, August 27, 2021, close to midnight: I stagger out of the Toronto Airport and meet Fr. Henk van Meijel, S.J., patiently waiting for me. Relief! Now I can claim to be safely home!
I had left Kathmandu about twenty-four hours earlier. The Turkish Airlines flights were on time and the service good, though I wished I had retractable legs while sitting in coach class seats. The six hours in Istanbul airport were not exciting but I was able to doze there.
Henk drove me across Toronto to our community and retreat house at Pickering, and got me settled in a comfortable guest room. In the morning I enjoyed a good breakfast and met many old and new friends, and then made a final move into the La Storta Jesuit Community residence. I’m now rested and ready to help with retreats.
The center has three sections: the Manresa Retreat House, La Storta Community Residence, and The Rene Goupil Community for retired Jesuits. We generally have meals and liturgies together at Rene Goupil House. The elderly receive the best of care there.
I’ve enjoyed a week of rest and walking. Br. Paul Baker has guided me through the main walking trails in the area. I look forward to more exploring during afternoon walks.
The years 2020-2021 have been full of changes and anniversaries for me. I joined the novitiate at Guelph on 14 August 1960, sixty-one years ago. Regular Jesuit formation followed at Guelph, Spokane, and Toronto, culminating in ordination at Toronto, 5 June 1971. I then spent the last of five summers at Seattle University, to earn a master’s degree in science teaching.
Meanwhile I had asked to join the Darjeeling mission, so in late 1971, I flew off to India. An Indian resident visa was not forthcoming, but I was able to join Fr. Bill Mackey, Br. Mike Quinn, Br. Nick Johannesma, Fr. Jack Coffey, and Fr. Joe Paikaday in Bhutan. The five years there were delightful. We ran a school at the government’s expense. Jack was able to recruit the best of poor but intelligent students from government primary schools. Our lives were completely focused on raising these students.
Once my five-year visa expired, I returned to Canada in late 1976 and enjoyed the first half of 1977 teaching at St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg. I enjoyed visits with family and friends there while arranging a further mission posting.
So in mid-1977 I was off to Nepal. Then Nepal’s education was taught completely in the Nepali language, so I spent the rest of the year learning as much as I could. Early 1978 found me teaching a vocational course in basic electric wiring – a joy to teach despite my limited language skills. I’ve continued high school teaching, while filling in Jesuit administrative posts.
At the end of the academic year in May 2021, it was clear that school teaching was too much for me, so I retired in Kathmandu where I prepared to return to Canada. I now look forward to ministry here in Pickering. I look back in thanksgiving for untold blessings, specially thanks to good Jesuit companions and superiors, and look ahead to new ministry at a reasonably reduced pace, again thanks to God’s blessings.
Nancy McEachniePosted at 01:23h, 21 October
I look forward to meeting you in the future
Paul DesmaraisPosted at 02:54h, 21 October
Very moving and inspiring, Bill. You have been an inspiration to many Bill, Jesuits and non-Jesuits.
Donna ZeollaPosted at 08:04h, 21 October
Charles Pottie-PâtéPosted at 08:54h, 21 October
Bill, WELCOME BACK HOME TO CANADA. I remember well when you went to Bhutan. You have contributed much to Bhutan and Nepal. They will miss you. Blessings on you.
Darcy MannPosted at 09:05h, 21 October
Sounds like you have had a very interesting and fulfilling life so far.. Enjoy the next several years closer to home and Thank You for your service.
Peter BissonPosted at 09:35h, 21 October
Thank you Bill!
Mike HylandPosted at 09:58h, 21 October
A wonderful, inspiring and blessed story. Welcome home and looking forward to your retreats at Manresa.
suzanne renaudPosted at 11:16h, 21 October
Nice to meet you!
Gerlad ForestPosted at 12:25h, 21 October
Thanks Bill. Very fulfilling life. Welcome home and may you fine peace in whatever you do.
Elizabeth C BryantPosted at 13:06h, 21 October
So happy you’re home. Welcome and God Bless You!
Bernie CarrollPosted at 15:49h, 21 October
Bill – Wherever you have served, you have done it with energy and enthusiasm. I recall our regency at Campion High School in Regina. And in your many years in Nepal and Bhutan you gave it your all. Thanks for this blog. I’m happy that you are back in Canada and look forward to seeing you again.
Eric JensenPosted at 17:04h, 21 October
Good to have you back in Canada, Bill! I was privileged to spend a few months with you in Winnipeg.
Blessings on your ministry,
Jomon JosePosted at 00:50h, 22 October
Thank you Fr. Bill. I missed saying bye tonyou. Wish you all the very best for your ministries in Canada.
Kumar PandeyPosted at 11:23h, 23 October
Several generations of Nepali studenrs and parenta are thankful for your selfless service, Fr. Bill Robins. May God grant you good health and peace, close to your home and family. You will be missed.
Mathew APosted at 11:57h, 23 October
Bill could easily write a book about his life in Nepal for more than 40 years, in education, social work, spiritual ministry ministry; and about his hikes and treks. We miss him here. God bless
Brian TanseyPosted at 03:06h, 25 October
what a neat way to learn that you are ‘home’ Bill .. ie. thru IgNation; I never imagined that that would happen… only that you’d find you way to the Lord one day thru running , cycling walking hiking and teaching your way thru and in Nepal.
Have been so fortunate to have known you and to know that you are here so close now ; am hoping to me able to see you 1:1 soon
Margaret and I were just in Peterborough this past weekend, to watch our youngest grandson play football ; ( it wouldn’t have been much further for a drop-in visit at Pickering )
Shulav KhadkaPosted at 04:26h, 25 October
Thank you very much for everything Father…Stay happy and healthy….
Kevin BurnsPosted at 08:43h, 25 October
Welcome home, sir!