AN ESSAY ON MY VISION
John P. Martin
My very first encounter with the Bengali people took place on the morning of December 7, 1975 in the town of Barisal, Bangladesh. I had just arrived there the night before from Dhaka the capital of the country on a long pleasant river trip on a colonial era rear paddle steamer. It was not a pleasant encounter at all. In fact it was the harshness of that encounter that stuck with me for many years thereafter. The first Bengalis that I met were only men, for women were not used to walking on the streets in this Muslim country. Their leering eyes and loud jeering mouths denoted a level of aggressive behavior towards me that I was just not ready to handle. I don’t know if they meant to be aggressive, but I picked up as aggressivity their response to this lonely white foreigner walking through their midst down the road. They managed to breach my self-protective walls and get inside me and rummage around uninvited. The result was a severe culture shock experience that left me with some dramatic shifts in my personality, as I found myself forced to live more on the feminine than my usual masculine side. Since I was not accustomed nor prepared nor guided in any gradual manner to live this way, one of my usual reactions to such a trauma was to get intimidated and depressed.
John Patrick Martin was born of Irish immigrant parents in New York City in 1939, partaking of their Irish culture, proudly. At age twelve his inspiration to become a foreign missionary carried him through 11 years of seminary to ordination in 1966 and a first assignment to Mexico. He dedicated himself to his priestly ministry Learn more...