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The Magazine of the Missionary Society of St. Columban

February 2018

Sharing Gospel Joy


o n t e n t s

Issue Theme – Centennial Issue

October 1918

February 1928

March 1938

April 1948

May 1958

June 1968

September 1978

October 1988

November-December 1998

December 2008

Icon Issue 2013

February 2018

5 Columban, The White Dove 18 The China Formation Committee Back to the Beginning 6 1916 Birth of a Nation and of an 20 Fostering Unity Amid Diversity Irish Missionary Movement Peace and Reconciliation 8 The Missionary Society of 22 Missionary Sisters of St. Columban St. Columban Timeline Called to God’s Work 12 Sharing Gospel Joy Celebrating 100 Years of Mission to the World 24 On Mission in the Philippines Dynamic and Varied Ministries 14 China Today New Ways to Live in China 28 Choosing Him God Calls Us 16 Missionary Pioneer of Motion Pictures

Columban Fr. Richard Ranaghan (1889-1937)

30 Reflections of Formation

Vocations in Korea

32 The Quinlan Chalice

A Source of Courage and Inspiration

34 Poppies and Pain

The 12 Step Program in Myanmar

36 My One-of-a-Kind Adventure

Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow

38 A Triad of Caring

St. Bernadette´s Children´s Center, Home and School

44 65 Years in the Windswept Islands

Mission in Fiji

47 A Hundred Years Young

Moving Forward in Faith

48 The Migrants

Sharing Their Story

50 The “Living Water” Encounter

God’s Presence

52 Amen to the Greatness of God

Mission in a Muslim Country

54 The Columban Mission Center

Shelter for Refugees, Home for Justice

56 Mercy and Justice

The Heart of the Gospel and Columban Mission

58 Constant Flame of Love

Unconquerable and Enduring

60 Columban Mission in Britain

Continuing Inspiration

62 Finding Life in the Desert

God’s Light Shining Brightly

64 From the Minarets and Mosques in Pakistan…

Waiting in Joyful Hope

69 A Great Transformation

Columban Mission Published by the Columban Fathers

Columban Mission (Issn 0095-4438) is published eight times a year. A minimum donation of $10 a year is required to receive a subscription. Send address and other contact information changes by calling our toll-free number, by sending the information to our mailing address or by emailing us at MISSIONOFFICE@COLUMBAN.ORG. Mailing Address: Columban Mission PO Box 10 St. Columbans, NE 68056-0010 Toll-Free Phone: 877/299-1920 Website: WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG Copyright © 2018, The Columban Fathers (Legal Title) PUBLISHER REV. TIMOTHY MULROY, SSC DIRECTORUSA@COLUMBAN.ORG EDITOR KATE KENNY KKENNY@COLUMBAN.ORG EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS MARCI ANDERSON MANDERSON@COLUMBAN.ORG RHONDA FIRNHABER RFIRNHABER@COLUMBAN.ORG GRAPHIC DESIGNER KRISTIN ASHLEY EDITORIAL BOARD DAN EMINGER KATE KENNY ERNIE MAY REV. TIMOTHY MULROY, SSC JEFF NORTON FR. RICHARD STEINHILBER, SSC SCOTT WRIGHT

…To the Churches and Bells in Rome

66 Follow Me

Volume 101 - Number 1 - February 2018

Columban Mission in Japan

Departments 4 In So Many Words 23 From the Director

The Missionary Society of St. Columban was founded in 1918 to proclaim and witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Society seeks to establish the Catholic Church where the Gospel has not been preached, help local churches evangelize their laity, promote dialogue with other faiths, and foster among all baptized people an awareness of their missionary responsibility.

In So Many Words By Sr. Kathleen Coyle

Welcome to our Centennial Edition of Columban Mission magazine! Since our founding in 1918, the Society has published a magazine, first under the title of The Far East, while it is now known as Columban Mission. Throughout the years, these pages have detailed the lives of Columban missionaries living and working around the world and have noted extraordinary changes in our world over 100 years. It was in faith that the Society first went to China, and it was in faith that our friends and benefactors supported the mission. In 1918, it was rare for people to travel far from home. Photos of China, a land so far away, and the Chinese people, helped our supporters and benefactors truly “see” their brothers and sisters in Christ half a world away. The magazine provided a way for us to be accountable to everyone who prayed for us and supported us financially in those early years, and it does the same today. Throughout the years, these pages have detailed natural disasters from floods and typhoons to outbreaks of diseases like cholera as well as wars and other conflicts. Columban missionaries always have managed to get information to us that we could share with you, our friends and supporters. Cofounder Bishop Galvin wrote long into the cold, dark nights in China. Columbans in Korea managed to send word to us after Columban missionaries had been captured and later killed during the conflict. Columban missionaries in the Philippines, Peru and Chile all stayed with their people during times of martial law and armed conflict and still continued to think of everyone praying for them at home and to send word when they were able. The common thread is that Columban missionaries are living Christ’s command to “love one another,” in good times and bad times. We continue to work in areas of conflict. We continue to stand with the people who most need to know the light and love of Jesus Christ. We continue to bring your love and steadfast care to your brothers and sisters around the world. And we continue to thank you for your faith and trust as we begin the next 100 years of mission to the world. We hope you enjoy this Centennial Edition of Columban Mission magazine which details the work you have made possible for 100 years. In gratitude for all that you have done for others, The Columban Missionaries


February 2018


Columban, The White Dove By Sr. Abbie O’Sullivan

I Columban Born and bred Among the soft roll of hills in the pasture land of Leinster. Playing, working, praying in praise walking the fields of Creation. Saturated in beauty of mount and vale hearkening to animal call and birdsong learning the human endeavor of ploughing the furrow and seeding attuned to the call of the Cosmos.

Community in monasteries alone among the rocks praying, praying and travelling impelled by force from within onward and forward o’er land and mountain peace and rest in mystic solitude. Fontaine and Annegray Luxeuil and Bobbio light up a darkened continent. Together around the Table of the Lord Eager to wash each other’s feet.

And then, compelled to Bangor, to book and bell combining the rigor of monastic life with zeal for mission. Burdened with the task of sharing the life of Life the greatest freedom of knowingly believing in the Greatest Love the being of Being driven by the flame of Life within pulsating, beckoning, urging me out to journey to unknown Europe led by the Fire of Him Who called me to them.

With single vision beckoning and urging us on o’er mountain ranges to the hills of Rome. Highlands and lowlands stopping and staying and moving on founding monasteries and dwelling in caves. Animals and birds welcoming people looking and seeing following to consecration. Monastery walls resounding with Divine Praise Morning Prayer waking the dawn Night Prayer and well-earned rest. Laudate Dominum omnis terra.

Planks of wood latched and tarred sea-worthy, buffetted by wind carrying monks with Word of God echoing off mountains Spirit-filled with Divine Fire Igniting hearts and souls Spreading throughout a continent. Spreading over time to a world awakening and rejoicing in Divine Being. The pounding of hearts crying There is a God Jesus is the Way, The Holy Spirit burning within Caritas Christi urget nos.

Strife and struggle overcome in the daily living of fraternity sustained by the spiritual treasures of an ancient race. Rest and Peace and a little space to pray sought out for comfort in the last days among the falling leaves of November Slumbering Bobbio gathered the White Dove—an Colm Ban back to the earth from which he had come. I, You, Columban, Christi simus non nostri. Colm Ban = Irish for White Dove. Columban Sr. Abbie O’Sullivan lives in Ireland.


February 2018


1916: Birth of a Nation and of an Irish Missionary Movement Commitment to Christ “You are mad to try to organize a foreign missionary society while Ireland is in the throes of a World War,” was the warning which met Fr. Edward Galvin, just returned to Ireland after four years work in China. He and Fr. John Blowick, a very young professor of theology at Ireland’s national seminary in Maynooth, were working together for that very purpose in that summer and autumn one hundred years ago. Driven on by the need they felt for missionary priests in China they counted on God’s favor and ignored the voices of caution.

Awakening a Missionary Consciousness On October 10, 1916, the bishops of Ireland gave permission for the founders of the Maynooth Mission to China (afterwards known as the Missionary Society of St. Columban) to begin recruiting and collecting money to send Irish missionaries

Students and staff at St. Columbans


February 2018

to China. Frs. Galvin and Blowick launched a monthly missionary magazine, The Far East, in Ireland in 1918 to gain the support of the Catholics of Ireland for the new Society and its activities. There were early indicators of success. The Far East had a circulation of 45,000 in 1919. By 1921, priest volunteers numbered 50 and seminarians 88, and over 150,000 pounds had been collected from the people of Ireland for the mission. Church historian, Colm Cooke comments that “For the awakening of missionary consciousness at a national

level and an increasing commitment on the part of the Irish church to the missions, the foundation of the Maynooth Mission to China was of paramount importance.” In the 21 years subsequent to its founding, four other completely missionary societies were formed in Ireland to work in Africa and Asia. By 1976 there were 5,803 Irish missionaries working in Africa, Asia and South America and at least another 5,000 Irish priests and religious in the English speaking churches. The missionary movement in the Catholic Church in Ireland developed phenomenally in the twentieth century.

Fr. John Blowick

Chapel at St. Columbans

Construction at St. Columbans

Official opening of St. Columbans


Bishop Galvin

Advertisement for support of the Columban seminary

The Easter Rising

the executed leaders, stimulated no doubt, by the widely reported Christian piety and fortitude with which they had met their deaths.” The old order of acquiescence to colonial rule with longterm hopes for political change through negotiation no longer seemed convincing or viable. The successive political events of the anticonscription campaign, the general election victory for Sinn Fein in 1918, and the setting up of Dail Eireann (the Irish Parliament) in 1919 were incremental steps in the process. They led inexorably to a renewed struggle between 1919 and 1921, this time in the form of a guerilla war, which was made possible by popular support.

A few months earlier, on Easter Monday, 1916, a small force of poorly armed Irish volunteers took over the general post office and other strategic buildings in central Dublin and declared Ireland a free and independent Republic. The superior numbers and fire-power of the British army quashed the movement by the weekend. Pearse, and other insurrection leaders, drew inspiration from their religious beliefs for an armed rebellion, which they realized would have little chance of success. They believed that their blood sacrifice would inspire a renewed nationalism in the whole country. Britain’s preoccupation with the Great War seemed to them to offer an opportunity. The public reaction in Ireland was overwhelmingly against the rebels and several bishops condemned the rising on Sunday, May 7. However, by May 14, fifteen of the rebel commanders had been executed, and the mood of the people began to change. During Easter week the rebel garrisons had frequently recited the rosary together. A historian said, “Even those churchmen most disposed to condemn the rising must have been led to hesitate when they saw its apparent spiritual fruits ­– the huge crowds at Masses for WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Nationalism and Missionary Fervor Early Columban missionaries were inspired by the sacrifice of the leaders of the 1916 rising. Fr. John Heneghan was so moved after hearing the confessions of the Tuam Volunteers on their way to join in the rising that he told a friend with tears in his admiring eyes, “If these brave lads are ready to die for Ireland, I, a priest, ought to be ready to die for Christ.” Heneghan joined the new mission as soon as it was launched six months later.

The Maynooth Mission to China avoided publicly taking sides in the nationalist politics of the day in their contact with the clergy while on their parish appeals for funds. But Fr. John Blowick is on record as saying, “I am strongly of the opinion that the rising of 1916 helped our work indirectly. I know for a fact that many of the young people of the country had been aroused into a state of heroism and zeal by the rising of 1916 and by the manner in which the leaders met their death. I can affirm this from personal experience. And accordingly, when we put our message before the young people of the country, it fell on soil which was far better prepared to receive it than if there had never been an Easter week.”

Self-Sacrifice for Faith On August 24, 1920, the day after the first group of Columban missionaries, led by Fr. Edward Galvin reached Hanyang, his brother, Michael, was killed in the ambush of a British army contingent in the south of Ireland. The June 1921 issue of The Far East published a story entitled “For God and Country,” describing how a poor widow woman desired and prayed “that her little boy James would be a priest and that Johnny would, as a true son, help in the resurrection of his country.” Johnny adopted the patriotic ideal, but the story gave prominence to James, who volunteered to be in the first band of missionary priests to leave for China. The nobility and romance of the ideal of self-sacrifice for faith and fatherland was incorporated and affirmed by the early members of the Maynooth Mission to China but primacy was given to the faith. The spirit of nationalism sweeping Ireland from 1916 onwards inspired them to a similar fervor in offering themselves to the spiritual ideal of missionary commitment for Christ and the Church. CM – Columban Missionaries February 2018








Columban Sisters


The Missionary Society of St. Columban Timeline 1918 China The Missionary Society of St. Columban was founded in 1918 by Bishop Galvin and Fr. Blowick as the “Maynooth Mission to China.” Fr. Edward Galvin dreamed of travelling to China as a missionary, and he arrived in Hangchow, China, in 1912. Fr. Galvin was appalled by the spiritual poverty in China and began the defining work of his life to bring the news of Jesus Christ and His message of salvation to China. On June 29, 1918, the society was formally approved and placed under the patronage of St. Columban. From 1921 to 1950, the Communists and the Nationalist Chinese Army waged war, and it was against this backdrop that Fr. Galvin 8

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was consecreated as the Bishop of Hanyang in 1927. Bishop Galvin led his Columban missionaries through the nightmare of war as well as disease, floods, famine and other suffering. The Communists seized control of China in 1949, and by 1954, all 146 Columbans were expelled. However, the Columbans’ vision of missionary work extended beyond China.

1924 Columban Sisters Founded The Columban Sisters are a congregation of missionary religious women whose commitment to God leads them to cross boundaries of culture, language and belief to proclaim the Good News of Jesus in today’s world. The Columban Sisters were founded in Ireland in 1924, six

years after the Columban Fathers were founded. The Sisters’ first overseas mission was to China to help the Columban Fathers. Pastoral Outreach/Presence. Columban Sisters visit people in their homes, in prisons, in hospitals and wherever people suffer and need support. Education. This service takes many forms, including teaching theology and scripture, early childhood education, teaching English as a second language and working with mentally and physically challenged people. Medical. The Sisters serve the basic health needs of the poor. They provide programs for the terminally ill, the elderly and people suffering from HIV/AIDS. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG





1948 Japan

Faith Formation and Spirituality. The Sisters work in special programs and parish settings with people seeking to deepen their relationship with God and better understand their faith. They work with basic Christian communities, catechetical programs and youth groups. Justice and Peace. The Sisters involve themselves in issues that affect the human dignity of individuals and groups. They provide education and information on the realities of global inequality and support those who struggle for basic human rights. Social Services. The Sisters work to provide counseling and support for those suffering from abuse, exploitation, and addiction.

1929 Philippines The growth of the Catholic Church in the Philippines since 1929 has been remarkable. Columbans serve the three major islands – Luzon, Negros and Mindanao—and continue to touch the lives of thousands of WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Filipinos. The Columbans have taken on new apostolates such as caring for handicapped children, ecological concerns, working with tribal people, peace initiatives between Muslims and Catholics and long-term programs designed to improve the lives of the Filipino people.

1933 Korea The Columbans entered Korea in 1933, and by the late 1950s there were approximately 250,000 Catholics. Today, that number stands around 10% of the population or five million people. The phenomenal growth of the Catholic Church in Korea occurred despite much adversity – the Japanese occupation, the Korean War and the military dictatorships of the 1970s and 1980s. With the goal of creating a self-reliant Church met, Columbans focus on promoting a better life for the poor and those deprived of basic human rights. Traditional parish work has given way to new ministries reaching out

1952 Fiji

to the urban poor, workers, farmers, alcoholics, gamblers, and the disabled.

1936 Myanmar (formerly Burma) The Columban Fathers work in Myanmar began in 1936. Following the military junta’s rise to power in 1978, new missionaries were prohibited from replacing those in the country. The local church has continued to progress and maintain friendships with local Catholics, and the Columbans have recently returned to Myanmar.

1948 Japan Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s major religions with Christianity representing just 1% of the population and Catholicism representing a fraction of that small number. The Columbans patiently nourish the faith of their people and continually reach out with the message of Christ’s love through kindergartens, English classes, February 2018





1978 Taiwan

counseling programs, and marriage preparation programs.

1951 Peru With severe social problems, pervasive poverty and widespread disease impacting so many Peruvians, Columbans have little time to dwell on the success they have achieved in Peru. Columbans focus their time and attention on meeting the material and spiritual needs of their parishioners.

1952 Fiji The Columbans answered the call of Bishop Victor Foley in 1952 and arrived on the island of Fiji. Prior to the Columbans arrival, the Marist Fathers had been working in Fiji since 1844. When the Society of Mary was unable to supply the island nation with all of the priests needed, the Columbans heeded the call. Currently serving numerous parish ministries, Columbans are contributing to the Fijian Church in other ways. Columbans actively engage the non10

February 2018



Hong Kong


Mexico/U.S. Border

Christian Indo-Fijians with their apostolate; foster reconciliation between Fijians and Indians, staff their seminary and help with the lay missionary program.

1953 Chile Columbans work in Valparaiso, Copiapo, and Iquique in northern Chile and among the Mapuche people in southern Chile. Poverty and class distinctions create social unrest and hardship among Chileans.

1978 Taiwan Columbans work in a wide range of apostolates among factory workers, tribal peoples, disabled children, families and youth.

1979 Pakistan Although a predominantly Islamic nation, Columbans work among the poor, landless and illiterate in Lahore. Medical missions, such as tuberculosis clinics, are part of the work.

1999 Mexico/U.S. Border Mission at the U.S./Mexico Border began in 1999. At the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, Texas, we offer exposure programs to visiting groups and facilitate their contact with organizations and institutions related to U.S./Mexico border issues — poverty, migration and human rights. In addition, the Center is a venue for talks, courses and workshops for the local community. Columban missionaries live and serve the people of God in both Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. We stand with the poor, the migrant and the victim of violence, living out our faith in the practice of ecological and social justice.

2008 Hong Kong In 2008 the General Council of the Society moved from Ireland, where it had been located since our beginnings in 1918, to Hong Kong. This vibrant city is close to many of the countries where our missionaries are working. CM WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

A legacy of mission… A legacy of giving…

For over 100 years, dedicated members of the Missionary Society of St. Columban have faithfully taken the Good News message of hope and salvation to the poor and oppressed in faraway places. For over 100 years, faithful Columban benefactors have made building God’s Kingdom here on earth possible through their steadfast prayers and support. When you name the Missionary Society of St. Columban as a beneficiary in your will or estate plan, you ensure that the mission of Jesus continues for the next 100 years! For information on how you can become a member, contact:

“You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity.” (2 Corinthians, 9:11) COLUMBAN FATHERS LEGACY SOCIETY P.O. Box 10 St. Columbans, NE 86056 Phone: (402) 291-1920 | Fax: (402) 291-4984 Toll-free: (877) 299-1920 |

Sharing Gospel Joy Celebrating 100 Years of Mission to the World By Fr. Kevin O’Neill


t is truly a joy for the Missionary Society of St. Columban to be celebrating our centenary. We give thanks to God and all those who have supported us. For the past 100 years Columban missionaries have participated in God’s mission by responding to the voice of the Spirit who speaks to us constantly through the Church and in the changing circumstances of the world. A rapid process of change and transformation is the characteristic of the world we live in today. Within this reality Columban missionaries enter into a given cultural context sharing life and Gospel joy with the people among whom we live and serve. We deliberately choose to locate ourselves among those most in need and strive to live in solidarity with them. In the words of Pope Francis we strive to listen to and heed the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor (Laudato Si'). We encourage people, and walk with them on their faith journey in knowing Jesus, and in their struggle to change the unjust structures that keep them poor and on the margins of society. The source of our witness and actions is our faith in Jesus. We desire to mirror in our own lives the pattern of Jesus’ life, helping people of all faiths, or no faith, to gain their dignity as sons and daughters of God, loved by God. The way we pastor those 12

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in our Christian communities and varied ministries is a witness that can be seen as a welcome and invitation for everyone, especially those who feel excluded. In the communities where we live and work, we assist with the basic human needs of clean water, food, housing, health and education. No matter where we live on planet Earth we can all experience the drastic changes in climate – the ever increasing number and strength of typhoons, floods, drought and fires. It is most often the poor

As priests, lay missionaries and co-workers coming from different countries around the world, our working together is a witness of what can be for the world. who are affected by changes in the climate. For many years Columban missionaries have been committed to raising awareness of the ongoing threat of climate change as it is manifested in global warming, access to water and mining. Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si'– On Care for our Common Home is invaluable in educating, not only Catholics, but the whole world, about the urgent need to take care of the earth and combat climate change.

Our world today has an interconnected global economy that marginalizes the poor. There is a growing gap between the rich and the poor as the result of unjust structures and unfair trade deals that so often are stacked in favor of what best suits and gives advantage to the richer nations of our world and the wealthy in these nations. There are millions of internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants in our world as a consequence of wars, economic injustice and ecological changes. Columban missionaries accompany those who have had to leave their homes and their countries. We help to build welcoming and supportive communities and advocate for changes in laws so that migrants and refugees are protected from being trafficked and exploited. Pope Francis often speaks about what he calls a “globalization of indifference.” He said, “Christians are those who let God clothe them in goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become like Christ, servants of God and others.” The Pope prays that God will make our hearts “firm and merciful, attentive and generous, hearts which are not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.” As priests, lay missionaries and co-workers coming from different countries around the WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

world, our working together is a witness of what can be for the world. With the people of the different faith traditions in the countries where we work, people who are predominantly Christian, Buddhist and Muslim, we promote dialogue and strive to build bridges of peace, healing and reconciliation in places where many boundaries divide us and the diversity of languages, cultures and religions can lead to misunderstanding and violence. Facilitating interchange between local Churches, especially those from which we come and those to which we are sent has always been an integral dimension of Columban mission. The Second Vatican Council proclaimed that the church is missionary by its very nature and affirmed Baptism as the basis of the call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. In the words of Pope Francis, “The unity and dignity of the baptismal vocation precedes any differentiation in ministry.” In response to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, Columban missionaries became more intentional in empowering the laity within the local churches where we work and inviting lay people to cross-cultural mission as Columban lay missionaries. We also invite lay people to join us on mission through our overseas volunteer programs (three to twelve WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

months), our mission exposure trips (one to three weeks) and our domestic and international internship programs (up to one year). Furthermore, we continue to invite lay people to participate in Columban mission as benefactors and supporters. Your financial support and prayers enable Columban missionaries to be sent on mission. In these various ways we all participate in sharing the joy of the Gospel as missionary disciples of Jesus. China, with the world’s largest population and the first mission of the Columbans, has a special place in our history. In recent years we have strengthened our presence in China and engaged in the various missionary tasks that have opened up for us. Furthermore, after almost forty years since Columban missionaries had to leave Myanmar, we are now blessed to have a team of priests and lay missionaries back working there. God will continue to call young men and women to be Columban priests, lay missionaries and Sisters. As a reflection of the growth of the church in the global south, the majority of new Columban missionaries will continue to come from Asia, South America and the Pacific. Since the 1980s the number of Columban missionaries from these

countries has increased. This has been a blessing for us. Going forward, led by the Spirit of God, Columban missionaries will continue to discern the “signs of the times” to see how God is inviting us to participate in His mission for the life of the world. Inspired by the words of Pope Francis, as church, we go out to the streets, to the outskirts of existence, taking on the smell of the sheep, never tiring to forgive and show mercy, being a church that is poor and for the poor, building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect and goodness, embracing with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, becoming small among the small and poor among the poor. During our centenary we will in a spirit of gratitude give thanks for what has been; with passion celebrate mission today; with hope look forward to our unfolding participation in God’s mission into the next 100 years and beyond. Our celebrations will be an invitation to others to join us on mission as priests, lay missionaries, volunteers, benefactors and supporters. CM Fr. Kevin O’Neill, is the Superior General of the Society. He lives and works in Hong Kong.

February 2018


The first group of Columban priests in China

Columbans in China

China Today New Ways to Live in China By Fr. Dan Troy


n 1954 Fr. Edward MacElroy became the last Columban of that era to leave China. His departure from China marked the end of a chapter of Columban history that had begun in 1920 with the arrival of a young, energetic group of missionaries who were committed to sharing the message of Christ with people in this vast land. Fr. MacElroy’s lonely departure meant that our founding mission became a place where Columbans no longer had a presence. A cloud of uncertainty loomed on the horizon. Nobody could predict what might happen in China during the subsequent years. In spite of the uncertainty, within four years the leadership team of the Columbans made an important decision about China. Superior General Fr. Tim Connolly and his team decided that it would be important for Columbans to have a young person who could speak Chinese as well as understand Chinese history and culture. They made this decision not knowing if it would ever 14

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be possible for Columbans to live in China again. Fr. Edward Kelly, a newly ordained Columban of just 24 years of age, was appointed to study Chinese language and culture. He began his studies at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, in 1960. Ten years later he received a Ph.D. in advanced Chinese studies from Columbia University. In the years that followed he had his eyes focused on China. The country eventually became more open to visitors. In the 1980s he was a regular visitor to China and become a reliable link as the Church in China sought to rebuild its connections with the universal Church. The cloud of uncertainty was gradually lifting. Fr. Edward was well placed to build up trust with people in the Church in China as a new dawn appeared. His unexpected death due to leukemia in 1994 was another setback for the Columban presence in China. However, the friendships and trust that he had established among people in China have proved crucial for what has developed over the past 30

years. A steady Columban presence was established in China, most of it based upon the early efforts of Fr. Kelly. During the past 30 years, Columbans initially lived in China as teachers of English in universities, a setting that gave us excellent contact with young Chinese people. It has also been possible for Columbans to facilitate the education of Chinese priests, Sisters and lay people in other countries. Some Columbans living in China now lead retreats for Chinese priests and Sisters as well as giving spiritual direction in two seminaries. Ministry to a small number of people who have special needs has been taking place for the past ten years. The arrival of three Columban lay missionaries to China in 2015 has enriched our missionary presence in a new way. These gradual developments reflect many of the changes that have happened in Chinese society over the past 40 years. In China the deep faith of the Catholic people is something that we continually admire. They have seen the Church go through cycles of change that would challenge the faith of the most committed believers. In wider Chinese society there is now a growing level of interest about Christianity. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI wrote an important letter to the Catholics in China. The tender care he expressed for the Church in China was shown in WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Fr. Kerr’s little mission house and church

the opening lines of that letter when he wrote: “You know well how much you are present in my heart and in my daily prayer and how deep is the relationship of communion that unites us spiritually.” The emphasis on unity by Pope Benedict is key to understanding the current relationship of the Church in China with the universal Church. The Catholics in China wish to increase their expression of unity with the universal Church. This is seen each year by the growing number of Chinese Catholics who visit Rome, the Holy Land and Lourdes. This commitment to unity is also felt by Columbans who live in China as we experience a warm welcome from the Catholic communities. In many ways it feels that we have returned home to the country where the first group of Columbans arrived in 1920. Cycles of history have many layers. In 1948 Columban Bishop Edward Galvin invited Cardinal Spellman of New York to visit Hanyang Diocese. Bishop Galvin’s hosting of the Cardinal Spellman’s visit highlighted the importance of the universal Church. Accompanying the cardinal in 1948 was Archbishop Gerald Bergin of Omaha. The Archdiocese of Omaha has a special place in the life of Columbans because it has been the location of our headquarters since our presence in the U.S. was established. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Columban priest with Chinese women

In 2016 the Columbans invited Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha to visit China. His two-week visit to China was another opportunity to highlight the importance of the universal Church, reminding us that we belong to a Church that bridges borders of territory as well as bridging phases of history. The Columban missionary presence in China is quite different now compared to the early years of our history. If Fr. MacElroy and his companions were to return to see what is happening now in China, they would probably be surprised by what they would see. However, they would surely approve of the way Columbans have found new ways to live in China that communicate the universal Church’s hopes for the Church in China as well as the universal Church’s hopes for all the people of China. As mentioned by Columban Fr. Richard Ranaghan as he contemplated on the millions of Chinese people in his 1936 documentary film, “Cross and Dragon,” all these people are “created in the image and likeness of God.” It is among these millions of Chionese people that Columbans continue to preach the message of Christ 100 years after our foundation. CM Columban Fr. Dan Troy lives and works in China.

Columban Fr. William Holland and Mr. Weng


Columban Fr. William Holland and two children

February 2018


Missionary Pioneer of Motion Pictures Columban Fr. Richard Ranaghan (1889-1937) By Columban Missionaries


ichard Ranaghan was born in Killough, Co. Down, Ireland, in 1889. He was ordained in 1914 and ministered in the Diocese of Down and Connor until he joined the Missionary Society of St. Columban in 1917. He worked initially in The Far East magazine (the magazine of the Columban missionaries) office in Ireland. In 1918 he went to the U.S. to do promotion work. In preparation for travel to China in 1920 he bought a motion picture camera. At that time motion pictures were still at a very early stage of development. Although funds were scarce, he received encouragement from Columban Superior General and Society cofounder Fr. John Blowick who wrote to him on June 5, 1920: “Be sure to get the movie camera and as much 16

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stuff for it as you can. It will be worth the little cost and the trouble.” Fr. E. J. McCarthy, the Columban director in the U.S., provided the $600 required for the equipment. Fr. Ranaghan was a member of the first group of Columbans who went to China in 1920. The boat journey to China provided him with the first opportunity to record Columban life on motion pictures. Following Fr. Ranaghan’s arrival in China, Fr. McCarthy wrote to him from the U.S. about “making history with the camera.” Two years later, presumably following positive developments with his film clips in the U.S., Fr. McCarthy continued his encouragement by writing, “The motion picture is the greatest means we have for propaganda. Nothing to beat it…it brings China home better

than a year’s reading of The Far East magazine.” From 1920 to 1924, Fr. Ranaghan used more than 4,000 meters of film to record life in China. His recordings included the experiences of Columbans and the lives of Chinese people in both rural and urban settings. This includes rare footage of a procession of bishops in front of St. Ignatius Cathedral, Shanghai, during the 1924 Synod of Bishops. Pope Pius XI declared 1925 to be a Jubilee Year in the Church. During that year a missionary exhibition was held in Rome. Many missionary communities, including the Columbans, had displays at the exhibition. Fr. Ranaghan was responsible for the Columban display and showed visitors his motion pictures about the Church’s mission in China. These film clips, the only ones of their kind at the exhibition, were a unique attraction and even attracted favorable comments from Pope Pius XI. Following the missionary exhibition in Rome, Fr. Ranaghan went to the U.S. where he continued his involvement in promotion work, relying heavily on the use of film clips to communicate an understanding of the Church’s missionary outreach in China. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

In the early 1930s Fr. Ranaghan began to edit his film material. In cooperation with Fidelity Production Co. of New York, a film named “Heralds of Dawn” was produced. The film was released on December 21, 1932. Columban funds were scarce at the time due to the economic depression in the U.S. However, Columban priests contributed their own money towards the production of the film, which cost $800. Unfortunately, we do not have a copy of that film. Fidelity Production Co. is no longer in existence. Presumably it was taken over, along with its archives, by a larger film company, a common event in the early years of the film industry. By the mid-1930s technology had developed to the point where it became possible to have motion pictures with recorded sound. At this time Fr. Ranaghan began work on producing a new film named “Cross and Dragon.” It is a clever piece of film production because it has footage from the early 1920s with appropriate sound added for people’s voices and street music as needed. Suggestions were made at the time that it would be good to have sacred music as part of the film. Fr. Ranaghan met a relatively unknown young singer named Bing Crosby who agreed to sing a number of hymns with well-known band leader, Guy Lombardo, for the new film. Bing Crosby believed that the hymns should be recorded onto a vinyl disc and sold during mission promotion events. One of the hymns on the vinyl disc, but not in the film, is “Silent Night.” This is Bing Crosby’s first recording of the hymn that later became one of his trademark pieces. Film reel material used in the early years of motion picture was chemically unstable and therefore difficult to preserve for long periods of time. Unfortunately, the majority of Fr. Ranaghan’s film archive deteriorated over time. The footage contained in “Cross and Dragon” is of a high WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Mission exhibit promoting the Columban film in Providence, Rhode Island

Fr. Richard Ranaghan

Bing Crosby with Fr. O’Connor

quality. It shows Fr. Ranaghan’s skills as a filmmaker, particularly his understanding of panning the camera while recording, a technique that remains important in modern filmmaking. Apart from his creativity in being a pioneer of motion pictures, the narration by Fr. Ranaghan also shows his great belief in the Church’s mission in China as well as his deep love for the Chinese people, whom he describes as being “made in the image and likeness of God.” CM Fr. Ranaghan died when his car skidded off the road on October 20, 1937, while returning to the Columban House in Omaha following promotion work in Iowa.

Fr. Ranaghan and his camera

February 2018


The China Formation Committee Back to the Beginning By Fr. Eamon O’Brien


he Missionary Society of St. Columban was founded in 1918 for evangelization in China. The first Columban Fathers went to China in 1920 and began work in Hanyang. The Columban Sisters began work in China in 1926. By 1954 all Columbans had left China. Links between the Columbans and their former friends and people were difficult to maintain for many years. However, some were sustained. In 1977, the Columban China Commission was established and consisted of appointees by Central Administration. The purpose of the Commission was to keep the Society in touch with the new developments which were beginning to take place in China. The Columban China Commission ended its work in 1989, and the China Mission Unit (CMU) was established in 1990.


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During the Ecumenical China Forum meeting in Dalgan Park, Ireland, in June 2002, a group of Columban Fathers and Sisters who were interested in China met. They proposed to the General Council that the China Commission should be reestablished. Among the reasons given for the re-establishment of such a forum to channel various energies into one thrust and to support the China Mission Unit. The General Council had discussions with the CMU and decided to establish the China Formation Committee. The rationale for that given in the circular letter of the Vicar General “is that in recent years some ‘Home’ Regions have facilitated church personnel from China to study in their regions. These regions budgeted for their expenses and this worked fine up until now.

However, there has been little coordination between Regions and with the CMU. We agree there is a need for a more organized plan.” The China Formation Committee was established in June 2003, and the first meeting took place in Manila, the Philippines, in August 2003 with representatives from Australia, Britain, China, Ireland, Philippines, United States, and from the Columban Sisters. In 2004, Taiwan joined the group, and in 2005, the coordinator of the China Mission Unit was appointed. The goals and general mandates of the China Formation Committee are: • To strengthen the structures and processes of Chinese formation by creatively assisting in the formation of Chinese priests, Sisters and laity, through responding to their requests and enabling them to study outside China • To respond to formation needs of the Church within China by seeking out new opportunities and innovative approaches • To develop and strengthen the partnership between the church in China and the local churches of Australia/New Zealand, Britain, Ireland, Korea, Philippines and the United States. This partnership will be based on mutual respect and support for each other in the living of one’s Christian mission. Through this exchange with China we believe our home churches will be enriched and strengthened by the history and the life of the Chinese Church. One hundred years after the founding of the “Maynooth Mission to China,” the China Formation Committee continues the work in China. CM Columban Fr. Eamon O’Brien lives and works in Ireland.


Enrich your own faith by bringing Jesus Christ’s message of hope to others! Do you have a desire or longing to: • Feed the Poor • Bring Justice to the Oppressed • Spread God’s Word • Comfort the Afflicted • Build Communities of Faith • Share Your Faith with Others

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Fostering Unity Amid Diversity Peace and Reconciliation By Fr. Patrick Raleigh

to build bridges through prophetic dialogue. Our priorities are to continue to work with marginalized people, to care for the earth and to promote inter-faith dialogue. We do this in the context of an Ireland which is undergoing rapid social change, as communities of “new Irish” seek to integrate and make their home here. As Columbans, our challenge is to build communities of peace and reconciliation.

Changing Demographics and Religious Diversity Our Columban History As Columban missionaries celebrating our centennial, we look back with gratitude to God and to you, our benefactors, who have so generously supported us and our work for the past one hundred years. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our cofounders, Bishop Edward Galvin and Fr. John Blowick for their foresight in founding the Society, initially to work in China. From the very beginning this new venture captured the imagination of the people of Ireland, the U.S. and elsewhere. We give thanks for the faithfulness of so many Columbans who down through the years worked tirelessly and for many in difficult conditions, to share the Joy of the Gospel. Many met violent deaths. Since Vatican II, our understanding of mission has broadened and developed to include Ireland as a locus for mission. Our most recent Society document, Called to Communion, invites us as missionary disciples of Jesus to be healers, reconcilers and 20

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The recent history of Irish migration began in the 1990s when economic prosperity saw a significant inflow of migrants — both workers and asylum seekers — transforming Ireland into a country of net immigration rather than emigration. Ireland’s history of emigration is well known. In 1841, the pre-famine population was 8.2 million. By 1871, due to starvation and emigration, that population had halved to 4.4 million. As emigration from Ireland continued decade after decade, and consistently exceeded the natural increase in the population, by 1961 the population had fallen to 2.8 million. But from the mid-1990s onwards, Ireland experienced increased immigration flows, including returning Irish citizens. This inflow was most marked after the 2004 European Union enlargement, peaking in 2006-2007 at well over 100,000 immigrants per year. It began to drop off in 2008 as the economic downturn made itself felt. The 2006 census showed that there were 419,733 non-Irish nationals living

in the country, an 88% increase on the 2002 census, and constituted about 10% of the population. The majority of non-Irish nationals were from the European Union (275,276); followed by Asia (46,952); Africa (25,326) and North and South America (21,124). The changing demographics also saw greater religious diversity with an increase in the number of Muslims, Orthodox, Hindus and others in tandem with a decline to 78% of the population (census 2016) of the Roman Catholic population.

Columban Outreach to Migrant Workers Some years back when a small group of Columbans moved into the city center, our focus originally was on the situation of migrant workers coming to Ireland in response to what was then a booming economy. As is often the case, the economic need for workers far outstripped the systems of protection against exploitation to ensure all were treated with dignity and fairness. While many thrived and were welcomed, many others did jobs that involved long hours, low pay and poor conditions. The work permit system, at the time, gave undue power to unscrupulous employers, who used the threat of permit withdrawal and deportation as a way of keeping workers from getting their legal rights under the law. Many of these migrants came from countries where Irish missionaries had a long history of service. It was natural that when difficulties arose for them that they would turn to people who had some understanding of their life and culture. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Setting Up the Migrant Rights Center in Ireland Our work in this area led us to set up the Migrants Rights Center Ireland (MRCI), which is now the leading national organization in the area of advocacy for the rights of migrant workers. Its work has been recognised internationally with the SOLIDAR Silver Rose for Social Justice. As well as being successful in lobbying the government on introducing legislation to improve the rights of migrant workers, it is regularly consulted by government departments in relation to policy development in this area. Last year, it dealt with over 3,000 cases, helping people from 115 countries to access their rights and entitlements. These cases cover a range of different issues from problems with documentation to serious breaches of law and human rights. One court ruling saw a man awarded nearly $120,000 in compensation for underpayment of wages over many years. The MRCI was also centrally involved in exposing forced labor practices in the fishing industry which exploited vulnerable workers and led eventually to a change in law and labor practices in the industry.

Columban Center, a Collaborative Project Since 2012, the Columban Center, a priority of the Region of Ireland, in the heart of Dublin has shared the Columban mission priorities of justice, caring for creation and promoting interfaith dialogue. The Center is a collaborative project for the Columban Missionaries in Ireland, operated between the Columban Fathers, Columban Sisters, lay missionaries and co-workers. Our location near the central bus station and a major rail station, beside hostels and refugee reception centers, makes us the first port of call for many newly arrived and often anxious WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

people making their first steps in their new life. We offer them a warm welcome, some basic English classes, and we help to orientate them in their new situation. All those working in the Columban Center know from their overseas mission experiences what it is like to be strangers in a strange land. We have an understanding of the isolation and frustration that occurs when trying to settle into a new community and a new culture so we offer practical support to those who are trying to integrate into Irish society. Through our English classes four mornings a week we welcome migrants who have come to Ireland looking for work and refugees looking to start new lives. Our informal conversation classes give our students an opportunity to share their stories while learning the language under the guidance of experienced volunteer teachers. Our students come from all over the world – from North Korea to Venezuela, from Syria to Cambodia. With that diversity comes a diversity of religious faiths. Within walking distance of our center we now have a mosque, a Hindu ashram, a Buddhist center and an Indian Orthodox Church. The most recent census shows that nearly 12% of the population were born outside Ireland and that the number of people coming from different religious faiths has increased considerably.

Dublin City Interfaith Forum In Ireland, the opportunity to engage in interreligious dialogue is relatively new. Five years ago, the Dublin City Interfaith Forum representing seven major faiths (Buddhist, Baha’I, Christian, Hindu, Islam, Judaism, Sikh) was set up. The Columban Center is involved in the development of this forum. Together we try and tackle common challenges of living in the city, and how we can improve our

mutual understanding and support for each other. The Dublin City Interfaith Forum was set up to ensure that diversity would become something positive and not divisive. It organizes a program called “Faith in the City” that brings members of different faith communities together in their different places of worship, to learn about each others’ traditions, to pray together and to experience each other’s hospitality. It provides a forum where common issues about where religious traditions and public life intersect (hospital chaplaincies, education, policing, local government and so on) can be discussed and any difficulties teased out. It holds public events like an annual Interfaith Family Day that bear witness to the good relationships between the different communities. Members of the forum come together to work on issues like the refugee crisis. Recently in collaboration with Dublin City Council and the Lord Mayor of Dublin the forum drew up the Dublin City Interfaith Charter, which sets out clearly both the shared values of the religious traditions and the commitment of the communities to work together to build a community of mutual respect, acceptance and care for others. The Charter was signed by leaders of all the communities and work has now begun with local communities and their faiths to make the aspirations of the charter a reality. As Columbans, celebrating our centennial, we are privileged to be engaged in this new venture of interfaith dialogue. The Center is a place of welcome and inclusion for so many seeking a new way of life and is a priority for the Irish region. CM Columban Fr. Patrcik Raleigh is the Regional Director for Ireland.

February 2018


Missionary Sisters of St. Columban Called to God’s Work By Sr. Ann Gray


ur story of the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban traditionally begins with the words, “It was because two people shared a vision and answered a similar call that the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban came to be.” Those two people were Fr. John Blowick and Frances Moloney. The latter was one of the many women who found their hearts stirred by the appeal Fr. John Blowick was making in December 1917, around the time of the founding of the Maynooth Mission to China (Columban Fathers). Speaking of the urgent need for women collaborators in the new missionary venture in China, he envisioned, “certain auxiliary forces which may be profitably developed in the missions. They belong to three professions – teaching, nursing and medical. They are, as I hope to show, of the greatest possible advantage both in making converts and in

retaining them during the first years of Christian life. To have a complete Irish mission, a body of teaching religious is a necessity, teaching nuns and brothers ….. Besides the teaching body, there is another auxiliary of the first importance for our missions. It is the medical one. It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance or the value of medical missions…..” The Profession of Vows of the first group of Columban Sisters on September 29, 1924, then saw the fulfilment and realization of these hopes of Fr. John Blowick. When the Congregation was founded at that time in the early 1920’s, this first group to begin their Columban missionary life consisted of seven young women – six Irish and one Australian. Today, we are still small in number, but we now represent nine different cultures and nationalities, a fact that adds vibrancy and color to our approach to mission today.

Mother Molony

Gravesite of Mother Molony


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Like the Columban Fathers, our first foundation was made in China in 1926 where Columban Fr. Michael O’Dwyer was to say of the first group of Columban Sister missionaries – “These women were characterized by a spirit of adventure. There was no knowing what was coming. They faced the total unknown. But they had great faith and were always good-humoured because they saw the effort for what it was – a country plagued by bandits, Red revolutionaries, floods, cholera, leprosy, Japanese bombing attacks.” Over the years, we have done our best to preserve this spirit and to continue to have great faith and to be good humored as the ensuing years brought expansion to other countries: the United States in 1930, the Philippines in 1939, Burma in 1947, Hong Kong in 1949, Korea in 1955, Peru in 1962, Chile in 1974 and Pakistan in 1990. These were years of great expansion for our Congregation, but they were not without challenge and suffering, especially when we were faced with expulsion from China in 1951 and from Burma, now Myanmar, in 1966. Both times, we had no choice but to leave behind people with whom we had lived and worked and to whom we had become very close. Fortunately, in both places, we had the opportunity to return on mission to China in 1986 and to Burma, or Myanmar as it is now known, in 2003. It is now over ninety years since our Sisters set out on their first mission to China. The settings of mission today may be different but the needs of the poor and the marginalized continue to call us WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Sr. Savina ministers to the elderly in Peru.

Columban Sisters run a preschool in the Philippines.

Sr. Joan with students at a rural school in Pakistan

Two Sisters helping a mother with her baby in China.

Columban Sisters in Burma, now Myanmar

forth so that Columban Sisters today can be seen working in many and varied ways. Today Sisters build selfconfidence in the children who live in Pasay City Cemetery, Manila, the Philippines, where the families scavenge for a living, and working amongst the Subaanen tribal people in the remote village of Midsalip in the Island of Mindanao in the south of the Philippines where the main object

is the relief of poverty, protection of the environment, as well as the provision of education and health care. In Peru the Sisters go on foot carrying supplies to more isolated areas where the elderly are completely abandoned and alone, and offering children good academic support and the opportunity to learn in a safe environment, not to mention nutritious meals which lay a good foundation on which to


build their future. Columban Sisters educate future leaders for Myanmar in order to find a way to break the cycle of poverty in which the people are immersed in addition to befriending, accompanying and providing intensive nutritional support and shelter for those critically ill with HIV. In Pakistan, Sisters initiate income generating projects in the Christian community for women with children who have been abandoned by families and have no source of income, or who are suffering because their husband is on drugs or unemployed or due to the death of a young husband. In addition they assist women with pre and postnatal care as well as other health issues affecting mothers and children. These are just a few examples of the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban on mission today. None of this would be possible without the support of our very generous benefactors who ensure that we have the means to offer the services needed to improve the quality of life of so many people. In addition, we can rely on the powerful support of their prayers and the prayers of our sick and elderly Sisters who continue in this way to be actively involved in mission. Fr. John Blowick’s missionary spirit was based upon the understanding that “it is God’s work you are called to do …. of yourselves you can do nothing.” This was the spirit that he strove to instil in the hearts of the first women who responded to the needs of China. It is also the spirit that continues to impel the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban today. Touched and set on fire by God’s love which is the source of our Columban charism, we continue to be called and sent in a spirit of compassion and solidarity to our fast changing world which can be filled with so much pain and suffering. CM Columban Sr. Ann Gray provided this update about the Columban Sisters.

February 2018


Inter-Religious Dialogue

Lay missionaries

Deaf MinistrY

On Mission in the Philippines Dynamic and Varied Ministries By Arlenne Villahermosa


ovements and changes continue in the Philippines, at this time of celebration of 100 years of the Society of St. Columban. By God’s grace we continue our mission of spreading God’s love, especially with those on the margins. To date, the Philippines is blessed with thirty-one priests from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Korea, Peru, the Philippines and the USA; eleven lay missionaries from Fiji, Tonga, Korea, Peru and the Philippines; eighteen seminarians (ten in Spiritual Year, six in their studies, two in their First Mission Assignment to Pakistan) from China, Fiji, Korea, Myanmar and the Philippines; one deacon from the Philippines and one Associate Priest from Korea. Even while the number of Columban priests


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in the Region is getting smaller we remain dynamic in responding to the Society’s needs. The ordination of Rev. Erl Dylan Tabaco to the diaconate on April 30, 2017, at our Formation House, brought great joy and gratitude. It was graced with the presence of his family, friends and a good number of Columban students, priests, lay missionaries and Sisters. He was ordained by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of the Diocese of Cubao, Manila. Rev. Erl is assigned to Malate Parish for his diaconate and will be going to Barra sub-parish, Opol, Misamis Oriental, after being ordained a priest and before returning to overseas mission. He has already finished his First Mission Assignment (FMA) in Peru.

We continue to invite and form young people to become part of the Society as priests or lay missionaries and others to become partners in mission. Each year the Philippines tries to send lay missionaries on overseas mission with the Society. At present there are three ladies preparing for mission in Fiji. On the other hand, our partners in mission gather occasionally to enrich each other spiritually with their mission experiences. Priests, lay missionaries, students, co-workers and partners in mission collaborate with each other in our various missionary apostolates. This is our preferred way of doing God’s mission. Columbans work in Our Lady of Remedies Parish in Malate, Manila, in Mother of Perpetual Help Sub-parish WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Integrative Rehabilitation

Subanen Crafts

in Barra, Opol, Cagayan de Oro, and in Lilo-an and Don Victoriano parishes in the Archdiocese of Ozamiz. Parish work has been a good venue for priests, lay missionaries and students to do mission together in partnership with each other. The Columbans have been working in Malate parish for 88 years. In the early years of the Columbans in the Philippines, their primary task was to help in building the local church and educate her people. As the local church has become well established, the Columbans have taken on other missionary roles in addressing the present ecological crisis, the needs and challenges of the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized, and by engaging in interfaith dialogue. These are some highlights of our work:

Nolan and Frank Carey (RIP), will be re-launched this year to incorporate Laudato Si', Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. The Center has been a haven for students, church workers and professionals, where they can find connectedness to nature and are challenged to bring wellness to our planet and the whole universe. Its vision is “a world where humans live in harmony with the rest of Creation through living in harmony with one another in a just society.” JPIC Philippines is actively engaged with the local Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) in its advocacy to care for the earth. John Din, JPICPhilippines Coordinator and Fr. John Leydon are taking on leadership roles in GCCM-Philippines.

Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)

Fr. Paul Glynn, Regional Director of the Philippine Region, is involved in the Inter-religious dialogue ministry, even though he has already moved to Manila to take on his new role. Because of the recent war in Marawi, a predominantly Muslim populated area

The educational program of CELL, (Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning), a space that was founded in January 1999 by three Columban Fathers, John Leydon, Dominic WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Inter-Religious Dialogue

in Lanao del Sur, the work of building good relations between Christians and Muslims could have been totally undermined. However, every effort is being made by Muslims and Catholics alike, to, together, both condemn the killings and to continue to strengthen Muslim-Christian solidarity by cooperating together to respond to the needs of the over 200,000 war evacuees. Fr. Paul and Fr. Enrique Escobar (originally from Peru) are constantly in touch with the Muslim leaders of Northern Mindanao to ensure that the latest war will not damage the good relations established, over the years, between Christians and Muslims.

Subanen Crafts The Subanen Crafters, with whom Fr. Vincent Busch is working, have family members in Marawi, where the war began in 2017. They are greatly affected but continue to carry on with their work. In the words of Fr. Busch in his recent update, “It is sadly appropriate that the Christmas cards we are crafting depict Mary February 2018


The Seminarians

Divine Mercy Village and Joseph quickly packing their belongings so that they can escape the danger of Herod’s soldiers. The people of Marawi are also in danger and are fleeing the city. It is a poignant scene here as the Subanens craft cards that show the frightened parents of Jesus fleeing armed men while they listen to radio reports about Marawi and worry about their family members held hostage there.” Fr. Busch adds: “The Subanen Crafters (Subanens are a tribe of First Peoples in Western Mindanao) are worried about their family members being held captive in Marawi. As they await news about their endangered relatives they continue to craft Christmas cards which depict Mary and Joseph who had to quickly flee from Bethlehem to escape Herod’s soldiers.”

Deaf Ministry Through the efforts of Fr. Dick Pankratz, a Columban Father from Wisconsin, who has passion for 26

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communicating with the hearing impaired, the Deaf Ministry in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, was born. This ministry continues throughout the Archdiocese. The office is located at Bishop Patrick Cronin Hall near St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, Cagayan de Oro. Thanks to the continued generous support of the benefactors, sign language classes and other services are now offered to the hearing impaired in the parishes of the archdiocese.

Divine Mercy Village The Divine Mercy Village is the relocation site of families affected by Typhoon Sendong, which hit Cagayan de Oro City on December 16, 2011, causing the deaths of over 2,000 people, mostly the poor who were living in flimsy houses along the riverbanks. The Columbans, together with other church groups, organized the building of 550 houses for the affected families.

As of January 31, 2017, all 550 houses have been built and 547 families have been relocated. Various programs in the areas of education, spirituality, therapy, livelihood, leadership, community building and more have been made available to families to help them recover from the trauma of their loss. To date, the village has a day care center, health center, children’s playground and a multi-purpose hall which the people also use for their Sunday Mass. Fr. Paul Finlayson is both chaplain and manager in the village while Columban lay missionary Ana Flores is involved in the different programs of the village, visiting families and tending to the needs of the mothers and the youth.

Yolanda Project On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, with the strongest gales ever to have made landfall anywhere in the history of the world, devastated Leyte and other parts of the country. The WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Regional Assembly (2016)

Income Generating Project Columbans received generous donations from all over the world. These funds were used for the rehabilitation and recovery projects in various communities affected by the typhoon.

Integrative Rehabilitation (Program for the Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in Barangay Limbuhan, Tanauan, Leyte.) This project was the initiative of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, to whom the Columbans donated help for the construction of concrete, typhoon and flood resilient houses. One hundred and ten houses were completed and are occupied. Capacity building seminars were given to the community, followed by socioeconomic programs which included education, livelihood creation, teambuilding and spiritual formation. The community was able to construct a chapel which they now use for their masses and other church-based activities. The youth have organized their very own church choir. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Income Generating Project (Sewing Training for Mothers and Displaced Survivors of Typhoon Yolanda and Relocation Project in Tacloban by the Redemptorist Fathers.) The Our Mother of Perpetual Help parish under the care of the Redemptorist Fathers organized an income generating project to help the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. A total of fifteen sewing machines were purchased. Two groups of mothers graduated from the training and are now sewing for a living. The Columbans funded the project. The Columbans also used some of the funds to help relocate the families in the no-build zone coastal areas in Magallanes, Tacloban, which is under the jurisdiction of the Redepmtorist Fathers. Relocation and rehabilitation efforts of the government were very slow. Other projects which the Columbans helped include the purchase of fishing boats for a community in Bantayan, Cebu, and the purchase of “pedicabs” (bicycles

with side-cars) for a community in Tacloban. We also funded a project of the Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services of Ateneo de Davao University which helped in trauma and healing among members of the affected communities. We also gave financial assistance to the training program for community organizers for the rehabilitation and development of storm-devastated Samar. Financial assistance was also given to other projects that helped in rebuilding communities and restoring dignity to the people. As we continue to participate in the mission of Christ we remain grateful for the support we generously receive from caring people, like you, from all around the world. Together, we are called to communion in building God’s kingdom of peace and love here on earth. CM Arlenne Villahermosa is a Columban lay missionary living and working in the Phillipines.

February 2018


Choosing Him God Calls Us By Fr. Kurt Zion Pala


ope Francis has chosen the motto “Miserando atque eligendo,” meaning lowly but chosen; literally in Latin “by having mercy, by choosing Him.” I was reminded at a Lenten recollection facilitated by another Columban priest that only those who experienced real mercy will also be able to show so much mercy to others. Twenty-three years ago I was an altar server. I would go to Church on Sunday and spend about the whole day in Church serving at every Mass in my home parish in Iligan City, Philippines. I felt at home. I was only about 10 years old when I told myself that one day Lord, I will be able to raise You up like the priest. One day I will be able to offer You up for everyone to see. And last year on the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I was finally ordained into the priesthood after 10 years of holistic formation. That was one of the happiest days of my life. And in between those years of formation I spent some time as an English tutor to Koreans, a social studies teacher to grades 2 and 5 and then as a government employee. It was not an easy journey, but it was surely the greatest adventure I am still enjoying. And I am grateful for every moment


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Lord, I have come to do your will.” Or will you say not “now Lord I want to do my will.” Fr. Kurt with his mother and sisters

God has given me; He has truly blessed me. Once we give everything to God, God takes care of everything for us.

We are called. God calls us. We are called to be Jesus’ partners; co-missionaries. Do you know why Jesus became man like every one of us and was born as a little child? Many of us would say: He came to save us, to pay the price for our sins and to lead us back to God our Father. All these are correct, and we do not forget. But there is something more: He came not to do this alone. St. Augustine used to say that God created us without us; He won’t save us without us. This means that we can only be saved and led back to God the Father only with our cooperation. Every one of us, since the moment of our baptism, has been called by God to be partners, co-missionaries of Jesus in the world today. The prophet Isaiah heard God asking: “Whom shall I send? Who will go with us?” Will you say, “Here I am

Called to be like Jesus. I believe just like the Church does, that we are called to be like Jesus. This is a call we all have to follow. This call to be like Jesus is a call to be holy, human and happy. We often say, I cannot possibly be like You or follow You. I am not worthy. I am small. I am weak. I am helpless. That is what Peter exactly said, “Get away from me, my Lord, for I am a sinner.” In the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus said, “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” And further in the Gospel Jesus assures us, “Do not be afraid.” Pope Francis also reminds us, “do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things! Ask Jesus what He wants from you and be brave.” When I was only 10 years old, I dreamed of being a priest, a great thing for a little boy like me. I was scared, but I asked Jesus, what do You want of me? Be brave. Be brave. God is good and faithful. God calls you to be holy, human and happy. Do not be afraid. Try it. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Called to be merciful, just as the Father is. Last year, Pope Francis instituted the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. He said that Jesus is the face of the mercy of the Father. We are called to be the face of Jesus, to be merciful to be like the Father. No matter what status we have in life, our Christian vocation is rooted in transcending ourselves, leaving behind our comfort and the inflexibility of our ego in order to center our life in Jesus Christ, Pope Francis asserted. Let us practice the corporal and spiritual work of mercy. The corporal and spiritual works of Mercy are actions we can perform that extend God’s compassion and mercy to those in need. We are all anointed with the oil of chrism to become “other Christs” in our world. Each of us is called to an intimate relationship with Christ; each of us is called to belong to the people of God and each of us is called to holiness of life and a unique mission of witnessing God’s love in the world. Our call of Baptism is then deepened and made particular in the call to marriage and family, single life, the holy orders, religious life or to pastoral ministry and service in the church. All vocations are equally precious to the eyes of God and the Church. There is WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

not one more special and valued than another. We all work for the same person. We all partake in one and the same mission—to bring the Joy of the Gospel to people. The past few weeks I returned to the Fiji Islands where I was for my very first mission as a Columban student. One time I visited a friend and with us was one Indian man, and he is a Hindu. He asked me, what good news do you bring Father?

As a Christian, what good news do you bring to persons you encounter every day? For us, the good news we bring to people is Jesus Christ himself. He is the Good News. Let us not be afraid to say: Here I am, send me. Here I am, my Lord. CM  Columban Fr. Kurt Zion Pala lives and works in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Seminarians have fun at a Columban ordination!

February 2018


Reflections on Formation Vocations in Korea By Fr. Jude Genovia


n February 2015, I was appointed vice-rector to the Columban formation program in Korea. Just like any journey, my journey into formation ministry has been a step into the unknown. Along the way everything seemed new and, as a result, I felt anxious and excited at the same time. One of the major challenges which I expected was trying to get used to living in community with our seminarians, our rector, and our staff. Any formation program must be focused on the individual person. It is about young Catholic men who desire to be missionary priests and their subsequent journeys through a period of intense and supervised training. A formation program, therefore, is not about activities, but about the seminarians who joined our formation program. Since the focus of formation is the individual person, I consider the formation ministry to be one that

Frs. Jude and Joseph


February 2018

requires a great deal of patience. Using this as my starting point, I would like to share my reflections as vice-rector of the formation program for more than two years now. Yes, the formation ministry requires a lot of patience! I need to be patient with myself and with our students. With myself I need to be patient because there are so many

Caring for the plants has become one of my little tasks in the formation house. It is a task I undertake with great delight. things still to be learned as vice-rector. As I mentioned earlier, the focus of our formation program is our seminarians: paying attention to them and caring for their needs. However, being part of this journey of growth leading to maturity demands a lot of patience. When we enter the realm of

human growth and maturity, personal history and the individual’s ability to respond are central. Often this is a painstaking process and for some it is also an extremely slow one. Integration of Columban missionary spirituality in their lives is an activity to which our seminarians are invited to take part. All the above plus many other tasks are placed before our seminarians who are, in turn, encouraged to interact with these inside a specific period of time. It normally takes a seminarian about eight years to complete his Columban formation program. However, depending on circumstances, some seminarians might take more than the average eight years to complete their training. Completion of the program usually culminates in full membership of the Society, diaconate ordination and, finally, ordination to the priesthood. This underlying time element encouraged me to reconsider both my attitude towards and ability to be patient. I admit that my first year in formation was difficult. My patience was tested. This was a period during which the ideal and reality of formation constantly played tugof-war with my patience. It was, I recall, an unsettling time. During this period, my constant prayer was “Lord, teach me to be patient.” And thankfully, through the following school year my prayer seemed to be answered. Insights into the art of patience began to emerge. Indeed, I firmly believe that patience is an art WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

These insights do not only expand my understanding of patience, but they also express the character of our Creator who is gentle and patient towards His entire creation. Fr. Jude waters the garden

which involves and demands passion, sensitivity, creativity, skill, and discipline. Caring for the plants has become one of my little tasks in the formation house. It is a task I undertake with great delight. One day, as I set about watering the plants I was overcome with a sense of awareness which made me more attentive to the needs of the plants. I was struck by the way the plants drew me to appreciate not only their aesthetic character but also to realize how they react to the environment surrounding them. In short, I noticed the life movement of these plants. Some plants live with less water and minimal exposure to sunlight, others need lots of water and sunlight to live; some plants only manage to live in spring and summer, others have adapted well to the extremes of summer and winter. On a personal note, I particularly admire plants that are resilient to the bitter cold of winter. Most plants show their full potential and beauty during spring and summer; some plants adapt and WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

grow to a ripe old age in the formation house, others don’t fare so well. What I became more aware of was how these plants are all sensitive and vulnerable in different ways. I began to see the plants as they are. This simple act of caring for plants has led me to some insights.

What I became more aware of was how these plants are all sensitive and vulnerable in different ways. I began to see the plants as they are. The first insight relates to my role as vice-rector. The act of nurturing is two-fold: first, I must nurture my own vocation as a Columban missionary priest; second, I, as vice-rector, have a role to play in nurturing the vocations of our seminarians. The second insight is related to vulnerability. In our formation house, we have plenty of opportunities to share and learn about our vulnerability: priests and

seminarians are learning to appreciate each other’s strengths and growth areas and, in turn, try to treat each other with care. The third insight is on the idea of stewardship. It is becoming ever more apparent to me that Jesus Christ is the true Formator and that our seminarians are simply entrusted to me and our rector in our role as stewards. These insights give me a comforting perspective from which better to understand how the virtue of patience can be practiced in our formation house. These insights do not only expand my understanding of patience, but they also express the character of our Creator who is gentle and patient towards His entire creation. As our patron, St. Columban, once said in a sermon, “Seek no further concerning God; for those who wish to know the great depth (of God) must first learn about creation.” CM Columban Fr. Jude Genovia lives and works in Korea.

February 2018


The Quinlan Chalice A Source of Courage and Inspiration Fr. Donal O’Keefe


n May 9, 2017, newly ordained Columban Fr. Seok Jin-wook Antonio celebrated Mass for the first time at the Columban formation house in Seoul, South Korea. At that Mass he used the chalice which belonged to Bishop Tom Quinlan, one of the Columban pioneers in Korea. The chalice was a gift presented some 50 years ago by Pope Paul VI to Bishop Quinlan on the occasion of his golden jubilee. Ordained in Ireland in February 1920, Thomas Quinlan was a member of the first group of Columbans assigned to China arriving there in August 1920. His organizational ability was soon recognized, and he was given responsibility for building projects and setting up a school for young students. In 1934 he was appointed to join the first group of Columbans who arrived in Korea in 1933. Fr. Quinlan immediately put his building experience to use and built a number of parishes and a residenceheadquarters for the Columbans in Mokpo. When the Columbans opened up a new mission area in the Northern Povince of Kangwon, Fr. Quinlan was one of the two men assigned there. It was a difficult time in Korea


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with the Japanese occupation where daily surveillance and control was the norm. With Japan joining WWII, the Columbans were either jailed, deported or placed under house arrest. Along with his Irish confreres, Fr. Quinlan was placed under house arrest and detained until the end of the war in 1945. After their release the Columbans thought the worst was over but within five years the peninsula was engulfed in conflict with the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950. Fr. Quinlan was arrested yet again in July 1950, this time by North Korean forces. He was one of a group of prisoners that endured the infamous death march.

The base of the chalice

Over a period of nine days, some 700 prisoners were marched 120 miles over snow-capped mountains in sub–zero temperatures. Over 100 died or were shot if they were too weak to walk, and they were buried on the spot. Reflecting on this, Philip Deane, correspondent for the London Observer, who was also a prisoner on that march later wrote “He worked for us, tended our wounds and ailments, gave up his tobacco for others, went out in frost to bury the dead, grew down to a shadow and still he smiled.. ‘Sure we will be out, Please God’… He was our banner and in a group of remarkably selfless and heroic people —the missionaries of Korea—he was without trying the most remarkable. A saint came to be with us in our hours of trial.” Fr. Quinlan was to spend almost three years in a prison camp in North Korea. After his release in April 1953, he was appointed Papal Delegate to Korea and subsequently bishop of Chuncheon where he worked until his retirement in 1966. The diocese covered the Northern part of Korea which was almost totally devastated in the wake of the war. The energies of the Church were directed towards WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

helping the people recover their lives. Along with rebuilding churches, Bishop Quinlan invited religious congregations to set up clinics and schools in the diocese. In view of his service to the people of the nation, he was awarded Korea’s Presidential Medal in 1961. Bishop Quinlan retired in 1966 and spent his final days in the clinic run by the Columban Sisters in Samcheok City on the east coast of Korea. On the occasion of his Golden Jubilee of ordination in February 1970, Bishop Quinlan was presented with a chalice by Pope Paul VI, and the bishop decided to send it back to the Columban seminary in Ireland. In a letter of October 27, 1970, to his nephew and family, the bishop wrote: “I enclose a picture of the chalice which our beloved Holy Father graciously deigned to send me on occasion of my Jubilee last February. It is 6 inches high with a large cup for concelebrated Masses. It has a nicely balanced base done in green enamel with the coat of Arms of his Holiness clearly stamped underneath. Lest our northern neighbors ever swoop down and ask me for the loan of it, I sent it to St. Columban’s Seminary Navan WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Fr. Seok Jin-wook Antonio

where it will be a source of courage and inspiration to the students there.” Bishop Quinlan died on the last day of 1970, and he is buried in the cemetery behind the cathedral in Chuncheon. The chalice remained in Navan, Ireland, for 30 years. On the occasion of the Jubilee year in 2000, the Columban Director in Ireland

sent it back to Korea. So today, in accordance with the wishes of Bishop Quinlan, it is used at Mass in our formation house in Seoul where young candidates are preparing to be Columban missionaries. CM Columban Fr. Donal O’Keefe lives and works in South Korea.

February 2018


Poppies and Pain The 12-Step Program in Myanmar (formerly Burma) Drugs have wrought havoc in Kachin State. Despite over 50 years of on-going warfare for independence from Myanmar, more Kachin people have died from drug-related problems than from the armed conflict. Columban Sr. Mary Ita O’Brien explains how the Diocese of Myitkyina is addressing addiction through the 12Step Program. The Kachin State is the northernmost state of Myanmar. It is a land of beautiful mountain ranges where the rivers Malika and Maika are born and together form the worldfamous Irrawaddy River. Bordering China, it is home to around 1.2 million people including migrant workers who work in the gold and jade mines. It is rich in resources 34

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such as timber from tropical forests that produce teak and other valuable timber. The resource rich Kachin State also produces sugar cane, rice, gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, amber, jade crystal and coal. In the rural parts of Kachin State, small-scale poppy production occurs. The use of opium for medicinal and recreational purposes has a long tradition. However, in the 1970s the cultivation of opium increased as more people began to use it. As demand grew, the sale of opium became more lucrative and slowly poppies replaced other crops. Heroin, the processed form of opium, replaced the traditional raw black opium. The injected form of heroin is more dangerous and

addictive, but it is cheaper and easier to use. What had been an herbal substance mostly used by adult males was now available to young people and women. Later yaba/yama—an amphetamine-type stimulant— was developed, and because it was affordable and available it was popular with students, migrant workers, field laborers and those involved in human trafficking. There is a heroin epidemic today in Kachin State especially among young people, and the consequences are devastating for families, local villages and towns. Injecting heroin is one of the main causes of the spread of HIV. More Kachin people have died from drug-related problems than from WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

armed conflict as the number of users has increased radically over the years since the most recent outbreak of the civil war in 2011. Beginning in 2009, the Program for the Chemically Dependent (PCD) was spearheaded by Fr. Leo Gopal, Peter Nlam Hkun Awng and myself. It was encouraged by the Bishop of Myitkyina, Francis Daw Tang. Originally the team leader, Hkun Awng, trained staff to carry out research on the devastating consequences of this drug epidemic around Myitkyina parish. In response to the terrible findings, intensive awareness programs were undertaken in the diocese. As the situation deteriorated, we realized that an effective treatment center was needed, and our staff needed professional training, experience and preparation for running the 12-Step Program. By 2014 our staff had undergone the necessary training and were back in Myitkyina ready to begin. At the same time, the Kachin state anti-drugs program was launched in every village and town. In collaboration with the diocesan anti-drugs committee, the PCD staff launched their first program at the Rebirth Rehabilitation Center, which opened in 2015 in Myitkyina Diocese. It caters to those who are chemically dependent and offers the 12-Step Program. The need is great, but only a limited number can be facilitated on each program. The 12Step Program is new in Myanmar and few understand the process. Recently I met two men in Yangon who had completed the program in other countries. They run Alcoholics Anonymous style meetings twice a week for a group of five or six people and are ready to help us develop the Myitkyina program. To date, two programs have been completed in Myitkyina, and we are working on a WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Despite over 50 years of on-going warfare for independence from Myanmar, more Kachin people have died from drug-related problems than from the armed conflict. follow-up. We have a very committed staff in the center who are trying their best to plough new furrows in promoting human dignity through compassionate and more effective treatment of the most vulnerable victims of this killer epidemic. One young man shares his experience: I am 28 years old, the second youngest of seven children in a close family. After graduating from high school in 2005, I went to college. I made new friends there, and we were active in our Catholic Church youth group. I wasn’t overly religious but I went to Mass every Sunday and prayed at home in my own family. During my second year, I realized it was very difficult for my family to pay all the

expenses so I dropped out of college. I thought if I worked for a year I could earn money and then return to my studies the following year. I went to work in a logging company and there I learned about drugs. At the logging company, I worked all night. As the days passed I felt very tired. I found my colleagues were very energetic and active. So I asked them how they had so much energy working all night every night. They suggested I take some drugs as they would give me plenty of energy. I did, and it felt very good. So I took either opium or yaba every night when I went to work. After six months, the logging company went out of business. There was no work, and I had become a drug addict. When I returned to my hometown, it was difficult to get yaba. So I began to use heroin which was easily available and not expensive. From the day I started heroin I had a lot of problems and hardships in my daily life. I needed money all the time. I had problems with my family because I was asking them for money. I felt very sad, stupid and wrong. At night I cried a lot when I was alone. An episode with the drugs squad, which could have resulted in 17 years in jail, made me turn to God. After this incident I really wanted to change. I needed help but my family didn’t believe me. I prayed to God to help me. A friend introduced me to a rehabilitation center not far from my village. There I got the courage to change. During rehabilitation, I realized I needed a greater power than myself in my life; now I know I depend on God each day. I am a recovering addict re-establishing relationships with my family and neighbors. But it is not easy. CM Columban Sr. Mary Ita O’Brien has been in Myanmar since 2003.

February 2018


My One-of-a-Kind Adventure Hope for a Brighter Tomorrow Peter, a student at the HEC, as told to Columban Fr. Neil Magill I am Peter, and I am a third year student at Columban Fr. Neil’s Higher Education Center [HEC] in Mandalay, Myanmar (formerly Burma). We get two weeks holiday during the academic year, but most of the 90 students at the HEC cannot go home because our homes are so far away from Mandalay and it is too expensive to travel. Fr. Neil discussed with us what we might do during our break, and we all agreed that we should spend the holiday with the children in orphanages and in the camps in the Kachin State where war has displaced thousands of families. These people have fled to the Internally Displaced People [IDP] camps. Many of us went to Myitkyina to experience their suffering and learn from them. The day after we arrived at Myitkyina, we went to an orphanage. It was the first day of activities for

View outside of the orphanage

Banmaw, Myanmar

our HEC students. In the orphanage we spent a half day playing games with the children, speaking with them and also encouraging them. I remembered my childhood life while I was there, and I felt sad for the children. When I was their age I had my parents and my cousins. But what I saw in the orphanages and camps were hundreds of children many of whom didn’t even know where they came from and who their parents are. This was heartbreaking for me. After we did our activities­—teaching the children songs and dances—we went and said good bye to the Sister who has the responsibility of the orphanage. At that time she told us “Your coming is really good for the children. At holiday time students go home, but these children cannot go back since they have no home to go back to since the military has destroyed their homes. So thank you very much for coming, you are always welcome to come here and brighten

Myitkyina orphanage


February 2018


What I saw in the orphanages and camps were hundreds of children many of whom didn’t even know where they came from and who their parents are. This was heartbreaking for me. up the lives of the children. May God bless you.” After the orphanage we went to some IDP camps for two days. In the IDP camps there are more children than in the orphanage, and there are also so many older people at the IDP camps. The compound of one IDP camp was very small and on church land. All the simple houses in the IDP camps are very small, and they are built very close to each other with poor sanitation. I was really surprised that although the houses are small, there are at least eight people in a single room. In the IDP camps I asked an old woman about the situation in the IDP camp and also about her original home. She told me “Yes we can stay here under shelter, and we don’t need to worry about the guns shooting but how can I feel happy here, this is not our real home and we just come here because we want to stay alive. In reality we had to leave everything we possess, and we had to run away from our sweet homes. Do you know that I want to go back home right now, I feel so bored here. I want to eat with my own money but now we have to wait for donors to come and we can eat just when they give us. Oh! God I hate this life, please free me from this situation.” I felt really sorry hearing what the woman said and I know that I will never forget her anguish. We talked with many people and listened to their stories of their harsh lives in the IDP camps. Like everyone we hope that the war would end, and these poor people could return to their homes and live with dignity. With WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Children at the IDP camp

heavy hearts we then played games with the children. The children were very active, but some are very shy to play games. They lacked confidence. I think this is because of what they had faced in their life e.g. war and death of their parents. All the children are cute and they asked “when will you come here again?” From my point of view, the conflicts in our Kachin State will be very difficult to resolve. To have peace in our State, we need more educated people and more volunteers who want to sacrifice their lives for their nation and our Kachin State. We need justice and an end to the oppression of our people. And then there are still two big problems to be solved in our state namely, corruption and the lack of respect for human rights. Actually our Kachin State is one of the richest states in Myanmar as there are many natural resources in our state, but the people, because of

the war, corruption and exploitation by the military and the Chinese, are getting poorer and poorer. That’s why we need to stand up for our State. If we don’t care about our State, everything from our state will be gone for the next generation. We hope for the day when there will be no more IDP camps in our State. Reflecting on my heartbreaking visit to the orphanages and IDP camps I consider myself very fortunate that I have the opportunity to study at Fr. Neil’s Higher Education Center in Mandalay. This is possible for me and the other 90 students at the HEC because of Columban benefactors. I will show my gratitude to them by teaching the orphans and marginalized in our country when I graduate. CM Peter is one of Columban Fr. Neil Magill’s students at the HEC in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

February 2018


A Triad of Caring St. Bernadette’s Children’s Center, Home and School By Fr. Tony Coney

Mission: To promote in all areas of society, with other social representatives, the defense and respect for the human rights of children and adolescents, so that they can opt for a dignified life, and be agents of change in the future. Vision: A society where children and adolescents fully exercise their human rights.

St. Bernadette’s Children’s Center The story of St. Bernadette’s Children’s Center began with the arrival of Columban Fr. Tony Coney to the parish of Los Santos Archangels in 1995. During those first months he frequently visited the poor and barren hillside of Corn Hill in order to get to know the people and the reality in which they lived. What impacted him most were the living conditions of the children and their subsequent vulnerability, which became the impetus for the founding of the Center. The Center was inaugurated on February 15, 1997. Our main objective was to provide a safe and caring environment for the children of the immediate area, irrespective of creed or race. An environment where they could grow and learn to appreciate themselves and others as valuable members of society, while at the same time being able to enjoy their childhood through play and participation in the many activities on offer. Our hope was, and is, that when these children are parents they will be able to pass on what they have gained through their experience in the Center. 38

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Over the years we have had to expand considerably in order to accommodate the amount of children and youth who use the Center. In order to respond to their needs this has included extra office space for our “Child Defense Desk” which promotes the protection of children and their human rights, along with speech therapy and psychological support.

The Children’s Center Today In January of each year, when we close for repairs and maintenance, we organize a formation course for the staff to equip ourselves for the work, and also to plan for the year ahead. We prepare projects in all the different areas of work from which the children can choose, while always trying to maintain and promote the values of cultural identity, freedom with responsibility, self-esteem and respect for others, and honesty, which we hope the children will internalize in the Center. With the support of a team of professionals, including our own, along with other teachers, psychologists and government institutions, we are progressing in the area of the protection and promotion of human rights of children and adolescents both here in the Center and outside in the groups that we visit. We also promote our Child Protection Policy for the prevention of abuse against minors, especially that of sexual abuse. To this end we visit schools and other areas where children congregate so as to form protection teams against all form of abuse.

Activities and Workshops We offer different areas of activities and workshops where the protection of rights and the development of values like responsibility, solidarity, cooperation and respect for others are important for the overall harmonic coexistence. The Center is set up for the children to play and participate freely and be able to discover and develop their creativity. All the areas have their own planned projects, as well as working together in the overall projects of the Center based on the values and objectives we promote.

Psychological Service Those who use our services are attended, free of charge, by a multi-disciplinary team made up of psychologists, speech therapists and social workers. They are dedicated to becoming aware of the personal, social and family characteristics of the children, the detection and treatment of emotional and learning problems, and through workshops the personal development of the children. The workshops are proposed by the children and develop themes like values, rights of the child, self-esteem, friendship, decision making and more. Our objective is the improvement of the conditions of the well-being of the family where the children can develop and grow in a healthy and loving environment. The service also offers the parents support through individual consultation, personal counseling and directing workshops in the community, especially in schools where we offer formation courses to the parents, teachers and pupils. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

hope would be that this project could continue indefinitely with the support of local and central government, that we would maintain the principle of freedom with responsibility within our institution, and that this example will serve to stimulate the setting up of other centers which are focused on children and adolescents in most need in the country.

St. Bernadette’s Children’s Home

A volunteer works with children at the Center

Child Protection Policy Because of the major problem of sexual abuse within Peru we have elaborated a policy that will help protect children from abuse, and provide guidelines as to what to do given such an eventuality. We train all our personnel on what steps to take according to this policy so that we can act promptly against any offender, and offer protection for the child affected. We also work in the community and the local schools to promote child protection in general along with an awareness of the human rights of children, so that adults will be better able to respect these rights and protect their children. We also are working toward setting up other child protection teams in schools while presenting a program of intervention so that the operators of the schools will have the tools they need to protect their children.

Child Defense Desk This is a service created especially to promote and protect the human rights of children in all aspects, which are threatened in the family home, school or community, and where the children will feel listened to and protected, whether the abuse is physical, emotional or sexual. Through this WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

child defense desk, where other members of the public can also present cases of abuses perpetrated, we can communicate these complaints directly to the proper authorities, and indeed, to some extent take action ourselves before going to the authorities.

Outreach to the Family and the Community Our main focus of attention is that of the children and adolescents, but considering that they come from families of high risk in the social, educative and economic areas, we decided to work more closely with the parents, through integrated workshops and training sessions. We go wherever there are groupings of adults and organize campaigns with different public institutions present so that the people can consult professionals freely in the areas of their concerns. We also invite the parents to the Center to see what their children have accomplished through the workshops. We hope to expand our services to include a greater number of children and adolescents, to continue serving the human needs of these young people, so that they may become valuable members of society with something important to offer. Our

Although the Children’s Center can be seen from a long way off as it is perched precariously on top of a hillside, it is the sound of children playing that gives the first inkling as to the purpose of the building. Walking up the steep, dusty hillside, the sound of musical instruments and the happy tones of laughter increase. On reaching the top of the hill the children scurry past, all headed towards the Center, where a warm welcome greets everyone who enters. Here the children experience the freedom to be children, and as a result, can participate in the many activities on offer: It’s their space. From time to time though, we come across a young boy or girl who is very obviously alone and sad, who keeps to themselves and looks as if they are carrying the worries of the world on their little shoulders. And to all intents and purposes they are. It is in this way we have detected many cases of children being mistreated, at school and at home, and with nobody to talk to about their problems they feel all the more isolated and hopeless. Through our psychology department we are able to help them open up and share the difficulties that they’re experiencing. At times though, this is not enough, and often we have felt frustrated ourselves as there is very little help available from the local authorities for these children, who to a large extent have to suffer in silence. February 2018


Indeed we have found over the years, through our “Child Defense Desk,” children who are being abused sexually are doubly affected because of the inefficiency of the legal authorities which appear to favor the aggressor. The justice system, made up of the police, medical and judicial authorities, take so long in processing the cases that frequently the child has to remain in the same abusive situation, only worse, as very often she/he is blamed for bringing this trouble on the family, and hence, suffering further deterioration in physical, mental and social health. Motivated by this plight, St. Bernadette’s Children´s Home was created, where temporary residential care is offered along with the opportunity to heal their wounds through psychological intervention and lots of affection.

A Healing Oasis “When I entered the Home for the first time I thought that it was a prison, whereas now that I am leaving to return to my family, I think just the opposite. It is a place where they gave me much love and I learnt good things.” (Maria, 12 years of age) On entering the Home the feeling is of arriving at an oasis, a place of rest, 40

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as the color of the gardens, the sounds of the animals and the water cascading down the rocks of the Lourdes grotto, all help in achieving our aim to provide a sanctuary, which is in stark contrast to the local environment and the reality of the children who stay with us. Because of this welcoming and tranquil atmosphere, everyone who comes to stay adapts very quickly to their new surroundings. All the children help with the animals especially during school holidays when there is more time, which helps them learn to show and receive affection. It has been amazing to watch the effect this involvement has had on the children. Because of their experiences some of the children are very aggressive and mistrusting of others, but through their chores of feeding the animals, cleaning the pens and collecting eggs, etc., they learn to leave aside their aggression and become friendlier with each other. Samuel, age 10, who entered with very little tolerance of failure, very irritable, nearly always grumbling, achieved something which nobody previously had done in the Home. He made a friend of “Aurora,” our talking parrot who pecks very hard when anybody comes too close. Samuel, however, managed to approach him and give

him food in his hands without being bit, and offered to teach other children how to do the same, which allowed him to form new friendship with the others. As cleanliness and hygiene are also very important there is a cleaning roster drawn up by the children themselves, which they carry out, while also encouraging their companions to observe with responsibility. Even the smallest children help to do the cleaning, even though it may not be done very well. It is the effort we value in their desire to look after their surroundings, and to do something for the others. We adults join them in this work, given that example is the guide to form habits. They also wash their own clothes. With the smallest ones taking care of their underwear only, while the older ones wash all their clothes. Our wish is that they learn to be independent, because at home, many come from families where no father is present, and the mother has to go out to work. We try to ensure that the children have as normal a time as possible, through continuing to go to school as before, doing their homework, having family visits and time for play. Given that all the children with us will eventually go home, we don´t want their separation from us to be too traumatic, hence, the reluctance to spoil them. Life for the children in the Home is that of any child, but when their strength is on the wane, they can seek refuge with their therapist.

Individual Therapy Violeta and Abel are the two psychologists who meet with the children on a weekly basis for therapy, through which we hope the children can enter into a process of recuperation and be healed of their traumas. While our approach is integral, using all the opportunities WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

and activities of the day, to be with the child in a loving way, we find that listening to them through therapy helps the children overcome their feelings of loneliness and mistrust which can impede any process of recuperation. We try to help the children recognize and understand the wounds left by the violence suffered so as to be free of this suffering, rather than allowing it to incubate, only to reveal itself with negative consequences at a later date. The second concern we deal with is the feeling of guilt. Even though it may seem incredible, the children are convinced that they are guilty of everything that had happened, along with all of the difficulties which the family is now experiencing. But also, there is a sense of guilt and embarrassment at not understanding the experience of new sensations in their little bodies after their being sexually violated so abruptly. So, we try to encourage them to assume a critical attitude concerning their problems, to recognize their emotions and speak of them without fear, and to strengthen their self-esteem.

Group Therapy


Violeta also works with the children in the weekly group therapy sessions, which helps the children to identify with each other and realize that they are not the only ones suffering in this way. In the words of Yessenia, “….we are able to learn how to look after ourselves. We talk about ourselves and notice that we are not so different. Before I used to think that I was the only one to whom these terrible things had happened, but that is not so, and in the group I am able to help by giving advice to others who feel bad, as at one stage I did myself. The nice thing is that we do all this in a pleasant way with games and dynamics, learning to value ourselves and to value the others.” WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

The group meeting is also an opportunity to share a reflection with the others on his/her conduct during the week, which then can be complemented, refuted or reinforced by the opinions of others. What we are looking for is that each child becomes conscientious and responsible for their acts, and be able to question the behavior of others, and hence, recovering the desire to live and participate as a healthy member of society.

Recreation To be able to play is such an important part of childhood which helps the child learn and be creative, and particularly so for these children who have been mistreated. In a way they have lost something of their childhood, and to be able to recuperate this in some way through play, is an important reason to have this time for recreation. Thankfully, the Children’s Center is only a couple of minutes walk up the hill which our little residents visit a couple of times a week, and more frequently during the summer. During the school holidays there are more opportunities for outings to the beach, or the local parks, usually a couple of times during the week, while during the school year it is more sporadic. But there is football and volleyball in the afternoons when the homework has been completed, or in the dark cold evenings, there is play in the house with different games. Birthday parties are a common occurrence in the Home with so many children in residence. Those interested help make the birthday cake, while others decorate the dining room where the activities take place. In true Peruvian fashion the dancing and music start immediately with everybody, especially the girls, eager to show the latest dance they have learned.

The Family From the very beginning, we realized the importance of also working with the parents of the children, or those who were going to be the guardians when they leave us. For what was the point in working with the child, if afterwards, he or she had to go back into the same situation, and lose everything gained through their stay with us? So, it is necessary that the parents also make a commitment to enter into therapy with the psychologists, individually and in group, while also ensuring that the aggressor is removed from the family home. In this way the parents will be able to prepare better for the return of their children, and be able to avoid a repeat of what happened before. Abel works with the parents in the group therapy, and both Violeta and Abel work with them on the individual level. “Together we seek to combat the feeling of guilt, hatred and revenge, which can do much damage to the relationship with the child. We put a lot of emphasis on self-esteem, recovery of self love, and recognizing our weaknesses and strengths. This means relearning to love ourselves, as many come from broken families and tragic backgrounds, and only by learning to love and value ourselves will we be able to love and value our children.” While the children who are in the Home learn to communicate their thoughts and feelings with confidence, avoiding falling merely into passive communication, and being capable of criticizing an adult, we try to encourage this communication with the parents, so as they are able to hear what the child has to say. These are the principal lines along which we work, so that the children on returning to their homes may be able to continue developing as in “fertile soil that will yield good fruits.” Maryorie: “I know that at my young age I had a lot of problems. It February 2018


was difficult, but the St. Bernadette’s Home helped me with the problems I had. I am very content and grateful for the support they gave me, for the affection that they gave me, and the therapy I received. I learned to identify and control the sensations of my body, to control my anger, and today I have more self-esteem. Today I can love myself. I feel very different from when I entered. Now I will miss everybody because they are like my second family.” Korayma: “I would like to say that I am very grateful for you who looked after me, and who gave me love and affection. You have been like a family to me. Thanks to my psychologists who were like my parents and the care workers who were like my aunts. Although I didn’t have a good childhood I am a courageous girl that can advance in life because I learned here that I wasn’t guilty for what happened to me. I know that we all have personal boundaries, which are very important, and that we have to respect. Thank you everybody. I will miss you and I ask God to look after you always.” St. Bernadette’s Children’s Home is the only institution of its kind in Peru, and as a result it receives cases from the MIMP, the “Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Groups,” which has the political responsibility for the attention of children in Peru, and the judicial system from all parts of Lima. We are only treating the tip of the iceberg, but that which we are doing is so important to many children and families who had once lost all hope of help and recovery, and for those who can avail of our services in the future.

St. Bernadette’s Remedial School If ever there was an oasis in this barren and dusty area of Lima, it would be the St. Bernadette’s Remedial School with its gardens and farm animals roaming freely on the grounds. It 42

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looks more like a recreational park than a school which is why the children who once hated the thought of going to school love coming to us. It is a different experience which allows them to enjoy the work, and therefore, overcome their difficulties. The children are grouped together according to their difficulties rather than age or grade, and who also have individual sessions with the psychologists as often the block to their learning is emotional. The idea came about through our work with children who participate in the Children’s Center, situated very close by, and observing the difficulties they have to confront in their daily lives, not least of all an indifference to the neglect that many of them suffer, which leaves them below the level of normal development for their age. For example, the children who use the library in the Center have homework that they just don’t understand and have fallen way behind in class. These children often are asleep during class as many have to work at night selling sweets on the buses, or doing acrobatics in the streets to earn a few pennies, and have no energy for school, while others suffer from inadequate nutrition, or because of family violence and breakup, which traumatizes the children and can cause a huge emotional block to their learning. Because of this problem many children have to repeat a year and when this becomes a pattern they are not allowed to enroll the following year, thus losing their opportunity of gaining an education. We decided to try and help these children overcome their emotional and learning difficulties through starting up a study program with a psychological input in the Center. This was very successful, although we didn’t have near enough space to develop the project further, hence the frequent request by our staff to find or build other premises, and

eventually we were able to open our doors in March 2006. Since then we have signed agreements with fifteen of the local schools who send us the children they encounter with learning problems and who stay with us generally for a year. Those who successfully overcome their difficulties in this first year, around 70%, return to their school of origin, while the rest will remain with us for another year in order to have a bit more time to advance sufficiently. There are others who really can’t advance very much because they aren’t able to cope with even the primary school curriculum, but they can stay with us and participate in the workshops to learn trades and other skills.

Psycho-Pedagogical Recovery Program Our teaching method is orientated towards helping children overcome significant learning difficulties that will eventually exclude them from their local schools. The Center offers an alternative and personalized education according to the characteristics and needs of each child. Our objective is the emotional, psychological and learning recovery of the children, so that afterwards they will be able to return to the schools from which they came. Once the children are admitted they are assigned to a group according to their abilities rather than a specific grade, and change classrooms according to the timetable. At the moment we have the capacity for 60 children with 10 in each of six classrooms which are decorated according to the class’s speciality. We hope to add four more classrooms in the future. We also have a speech therapy service for the children with speech defects, which can also hinder their learning. If the child has difficulty in speaking she/he will not be able to WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

read or write well, and will not be able to overcome their learning difficulties, while remaining the butt of the joke because of bad pronunciation and generally failing at school. The physical therapist is in charge of the psycho-motor therapy which is an important support that helps the child develop their motor skills, stimulate self-esteem, and generate discipline, this last being very necessary because the children are at an important stage of formation. For the children who have returned to their schools of origin we have a social worker who visits them to ensure that they are able to maintain the progress they made with us and keep up with their peers.

The Parents On bringing their children to the Center, the parents are also able to avail of the orientation and support we offer through the workshops our psychologists prepare for them. This is of vital importance and is the only way we can ensure that the children advance, especially because many parents haven’t been able to go to school, having had to work from a young age, and are to a large extent illiterate. The workshops and other activities are designed to help the parents so as they are better able to assume their role as a parent and help their children in their homework. Very often the work with the parents is much more difficult, because they are reluctant to accept that their children have a learning difficulty, and think it’s better that they keep moving up a class each year in school whether they are learning or not. Nevertheless, through the workshops and activities of the Center, the parents realize that their children have problems and that they need help, and from then on become more open to collaborating with our requests for the well-being of their children. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

So, when the parents bring their children to the Center, with the acceptance of their local school, they are informed of what is expected, and are asked to sign a contract agreeing to assist at all the talks and formation courses we organize for them. We also ask them to bring and collect their children on time and in this way we are fomenting values for the wellbeing of the family.

Workshops For the children who can’t return to their schools because of an intellectual incapacity, we provide occupational workshops where they can develop and discover other skills which could help them in the future earn a living, and with practice are able to produce lovely finished products in ceramics, shoe-making, and macramé, while also participating in courses of drama, dance, arts and crafts and psychology workshops. One of the important achievements of this group is the social aspect. There is a huge difference between how they were before they came to the school and how they are now through participating in the workshops. They are far more integrated into the group and much more communicative with each other, while being more independent in themselves. Generally speaking young people with these difficulties are kept at home and don’t learn to communicate, but with us this is no longer a problem. These children are now happy in their efforts to overcome their deficiencies in learning as they steadily grow in confidence and a newfound self-esteem. It is important for us to keep the children as the focus of our work as we try to identify their individual needs, rather than having them adapt to a set method dictated to them by the institution. Joel: Although Joel was 18 when he started in the school he wasn’t able to hold a pencil. He would

speak to nobody and was always bad tempered, but over the weeks and months he started to come out of his shell to be more communicative and friendly with the other children, and little by little he started learning. His mother says, “One day the workers of the Children’s Centre passed by and said to me that I could send Joel to St. Bernadette’s Remedial School which is just in front of our house. So, Joel started and very soon I was amazed at what he was able to do in the workshops. He had very little movement in his hands, walked with difficulty and talked very little, but the change that came over him was unbelievable in such a short space of time. He would bring things home that he had made which I thought would have been impossible for him to do. I was always worried about what would happen to Joel when I died, but now I have greater hope for him. I will put a little kiosk outside the house where he can sell the things that he makes and that will keep him going. I am very grateful to St. Bernadette’s for offering Joel a place in the school and to all the teachers who have such patience with him.” CM Columban Fr. Tony Coney lives and works in Peru.

Fr. Tony and Violeta

February 2018


65 Years in the Windswept Islands Mission in Fiji By Fr. Donal McIlraith


y most vivid memory of 30 years in Fiji is that of drifting at sea in a storm. It was January 2003, and Cyclone Ami had done great damage in the north. I was taking food to the island of Rabi. Fr. Taaremon Matauea is now a Columban in Taiwan, but then he was a seminarian and had sent me a distress call. He and his brother- inlaw, Catechist Tampa, came to collect me and the food. Ten minutes out to sea, the engine fell off, and we drifted all that night and all the next day, finally finding land on Taveuni Island. The scripture verse, “The Lord will bless your going and coming” from Psalm 121 had jumped out of evening prayer at me the day before I left and this—together with the Rosary —sustained me in the face of what I thought might end in death. You might say that Mao Tse Tung helped found the Fiji mission! When China was closed to the Columbans in the early 1950s, the Columban authorities needed other missions

for our newly ordained priests. Fiji had been looked after largely by the French Marists. Vocations were fewer after the war, and Bishop Victor Foley, S.M., of Fiji invited the Columbans to help. On February 22, 1952, eleven Irish Columbans, led by the intrepid Fr. Denis Fitzpatrick, arrived in Suva to join the two from Australia-New Zealand who had also just arrived. The Columban centenary coincides with our 65th anniversary in Fiji. Two of the original founding Columbans survive, retired in Ireland, Frs. Seamus O’Conor and James Gavigan. One of the Fiji region founders, Fr. Arthur Tierney, is buried in Suva. The last of the founders to die were Australian Fr. Charlie O. Mahony and three time Fiji Director and founder of St. Thomas High School, Lautoka, Fr. Martin Dobey. The bedrock of our mission here right now is our parishes. This is one of the main areas where we try to put the great commission into practice, “Going therefore make disciples….”

(Mt 28:18-20) Labasa is a city on the Northern Island and grew around the sugar mill. Sugar and tourism are our major industries in Fiji. The parish was founded in the 1960s by Columban Fr. Richard O’Sullivan and is still staffed by Columbans. Today Columban Fr. Paul Tierney is pastor of this busy town. He is assisted by Fr. J.J. Ryan and lay missionary Monaliza Esteban of the Philippines. Between them, and with their local team, they minister to a large area. This parish was the last Fiji stop for Ceder Rapids, Iowa, native, Columban Fr. Charles Duster whose career in Fiji included being Vicar General to Archbishop Mataca for several years. The next parish is where Minneapolis born Columban Fr. Ed Quinn built the Vundibasoga School, a legendary feat in rough terrain that is still spoken of around the kava bowl. Ba is a mill town on the main island and is pastored by two Columban associate priests, Fr. Nilton Iman of Peru as pastor and Fr. John

An elderly Fijian man

Fr. Marton Dobey in Fiji

Fijian policeman with a young boy


February 2018


L-R: Scenes from the Fiji Solevu Catholic mission

Lee of Korea who are assisted by Irish Columban Fr. Kieran Maloney. Philippine lay missionary Liezl Ladaran works with them. Some 18 out stations keep them constantly busy, and Liezl helps them with their youth and women’s programs. Cyclone Kina did terrible damage to all of Fiji in 1993. All the main bridges were down. I will never forget hiring a boat to cross the Ba river to visit Columban Fr. John McEvoy. He was a picture of misery in his damaged presbytery but didn’t have time to think of himself as he stretched out to help his needy parishioners. I myself was caught in two floods when pastor of Ba. The most severe cyclone of our history was Winston which hit us in February 2016. Ba was badly hit. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Frs. Nilton and John were in the presbytery, and the windows were blown in. Terrified, they somehow made their way to the basement where they spent the night with other parishioners. A lot of damage was done to the three schools of the parish and to the church of St. Columban in Votua village. Gratefully we received assistance from Columban supporters and were able to repair the church, the schools and also offer aid to the damaged traditional catholic village of Navala. Six hundred schools were damaged by Winston throughout Fiji, and so far only about 100 have been repaired. More than 10,000 people are still living under canvas roofs. We have run short of materials for rebuilding.

Our third parish is in the main city, Suva, and is now pastored by Fr. John McEvoy with the help of Marjorie Engcoy. One of the great photos of Raiwaqa is that of Columban Fr. Dermot Hurley, then its pastor, showing Queen Elizabeth of England around the new housing estate there. He was chair of the Fiji Housing Authority at the time. His publications in his almost 50 years as a pastor amounted to a quarter of a million pamphlets, hymn books, prayer books. Suva, the capital, is also where we have our formation houses for seminarians and lay missionaries. Our central house is also in Suva. Here we publish our local missionary magazine Kaulotu which picks up stories by Fijian and February 2018


Pacifican missionaries and generally attempts to promote Fiji as a mission sending country. Columban Fr. David Arms heads the translation team for the Archdiocese and they have just produced the Altar Missal in Fijian. Once the Columbans ran up to eighteen of the Archdiocese’s thirty-four parishes. One of our main goals was to help develop local vocations, and today most of Fiji’s parishes are staffed by Fijian priests. I am happy to have taught Sacred Scripture to almost all of them from Archbishop Chong down during their seminary years at the Fiji Seminary which is today a seminary of 160 students from all over the Pacific. Winds of change blow in the Church. Fiji was once staffed by missionaries. It is now a mission sending country, and the Columban task today it to help Fiji become ever more missionary. In 2016 Fiji had 65 missionaries overseas, not bad from a diocese of 80,000 people. This included Marist priests, Sisters and brothers, MSC missionaries and others, but the single biggest number of overseas Fijians were Columbans!

Calling others to be missionary witnesses to Jesus means that we also run vocation and formation programs for seminarians and lay missionaries. Currently we have about twelve seminarians. Ten of our Pacifican local priests and seminarians work overseas in places as far apart as Taiwan, Pakistan, and Peru. Those who join us become lifetime missionaries overseas in other Columban missions. We have had a lay mission sending program for 25 years now, and we have sent about 50 lay missionaries on mission. Serafina Ranadi was our senior lay missionary. She died three years ago when serving in Los Angeles, California. She is buried there—not far from Bob Hope! Fiji figures a lot in the news because of climate change. In November 2017, Fiji lead the COP 23, the United Nations conference on Climate Change held in Bonn. The rising seas are already affecting us. Our Justice and Peace Office led by former lay missionary, Visenia Navelenikoro, is promoting study and action of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si' right now to help

Columban lay missionaries with Columban Fr. Tomas King

A Fijian family builds a house.


February 2018

us appreciate and act on these vital issues. Visenia facilitated a visit to Fiji by Columban eco-theologian, Fr. Sean McDonagh in 2016. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Jesus’ command still rings strong in the Pacific and in Fiji. The Fiji region today has about 30 people. Half of these work in Fiji. They staff parishes, teach, do translation work, or intercultural and inter-religious work. Our formation and vocation programs are run by Fijians, Fr. Iowane Gukibau, the first Fijian to join the Columbans and Fr. Willie Lee. Both are temporarily back in Fiji to help keep the home fires burning. In a few years we hope they will be replaced by others enabling them to return to their missions. The other half, people like Tongan Fr. Felisiano Fatu, Rector of Formation in Manila, bring the good news of Jesus and the kingdom of God to the world, in our missions or in our formation programs. CM Columban Fr. Donal McIlraith lives and works in Fiji.


A Hundred Years Young Moving Forward in Faith By Fr. Donal McIlraith


e Columbans will celebrate our centenary from November 2017 to November 2018. This reflects the fact that we were canonically recognized as a missionary Society by Bishop O’Dea of Galway, Ireland, on June 29, 1918, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. We now recognize this as our foundation day. The Society grew from the first twenty priests who set out for China under Frs. Galvin and Blowick in 1920 to a major missionary society of over 1,000 priests when our seven bishops and the Superior General attended Vatican II. Besides China, we supplied desperately needed priests to the Philippines, Korea, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Japan, Peru, Chile and elsewhere. In all these countries we promoted local vocations. When we first arrived in Fiji, there was only one “diocesan” priest, Fr. Claudius Lurkur born in India. Today most of the parishes are staffed by Fiji born priests or other Pacificans. Today the Fiji seminary has 160 seminarians. As a missionary congregation, our focus is on mission. Having helped Fiji in its hour of need, our focus now is in helping our Fiji Church to become more missionary. Last year there were 65 Fiji missionaries overseas. In our centennial celebrations we will be looking to help the Church and individual parishes in the Archdiocese to find ways to become more missionary and to examine with them what this might mean as we move deeper into the third millennium. We are a hundred years OLD as regards our traditional bases, Ireland, Britain, the U.S., Australia, and New


Zealand. A wonderful example of that was Fr. Dan Fitzgerald who celebrated his 100th birthday last year. He worked with Bishop Galvin in Hanyang and was expelled from China like the bishop. We can multiply Fr. Dan by a thousand, and we begin to see all the good the Society has done in and for the Church. Fr. Dan has since gone to God. We are also a hundred years YOUNG. The first century is over, but we are by no means over. In God’s providence we now have young people ready to take on the second Columban century. These are the young Columban priests, lay missionaries and seminarians. They no longer come from the traditional Columban bases but from the new bases of the Society, mainly Korea, the Philippines, Fiji, with some also from Chile, Peru, China, and Myanmar. In Myanmar, we handed over our parishes to Bishop Grawng many years

ago when foreign missionaries were expelled, but now they have invited us back! We already have several seminarians from there. We older Columbans and some twenty younger Columbans from the traditional regions work alongside them to help the new “Pacific Link Columban Society” grow and develop. The key thing, of course, is that they preserve and grow ever deeper into the Columban charism, the Columban spirit given us by the Lord Jesus Himself through His spirit and our founders. Foundational too is the command of Jesus, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35) CM Fr. Donal McIlraith is the Regional Director of Fiji.

February 2018


The Migrants Sharing Their Story By Michael Javier


hile is one of the developing countries in the world in terms of infrastructure, economy and business with good salary rates that catch the attention of workers in foreign countries especially those countries that are not so progressive. In my everyday life here in Santiago, I encounter not only Chilean people but also people from different countries. There are people from Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, Haiti, Asia, and from many areas of the world. Some of them are tourists or students, but most of them are seeking a good job. Some of them are regular which means they have their legal papers, but unfortunately there are some that are irregular which means they don’t have legal papers. Living in Chile as a migrant is not that easy whether you are regular or irregular.


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For example, when looking for a house or apartment to rent for a stay, the owner of the house will ask for many requirements like a copy of the contract of your current job, permanent identification card, guarantee and of course money to pay for rent. If there are no legal papers, there’s no job and if there’s no job there’s no contract, if there’s no contract, there is no place to stay. The migrants are lucky if they know someone who is willing to allow them to live in their housing. One Haitian woman that I know shared with me her story. Her name is Margarette, and she is married with three children still living in Haiti. She came to Chile ten months ago. She speaks very little Spanish. In her ten months in Chile she cannot find a regular job since she doesn’t have legal papers. Sometimes

she can have work for one week but in the next two weeks no work again. She will be lucky if she has two weeks straight work, because she can earn more money and send it to her family back home. Usually her work is peeling potatoes or cleaning houses. She is living with her friend because she can’t even afford to rent a house because of her current situation. However, even migrants with all of their legal documents can’t find somewhere to live just like one of the Filipina ladies I know. Her name is Isabel, and she is 45 years old and married. She came to Chile ten years ago, more or less. She’s been here legally for ten years and has a permanent identification card. She was working as a housekeeper for a family here until she received bad news from Philippines that her mother passed away so she rushed to go home. The trip was also an opportunity to be with her husband. When she came back to Chile she didn’t have any idea that she was pregnant until she went to the doctor for a check-up. When her employer found out about her situation, everything changed. They treated her differently because she could not do the same work as before she was pregnant. After six months she went on prenatal leave. She was to rest during her pregnancy until she gave birth. Unfortunately her employer didn’t want her to stay in their house, because they feel that she is useless for them. They kept asking Isabel “when are you leaving?” They would go to her room just to ask the same question. Isabel became very stressed, WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG


but she managed to call a friend to pick her up from the house of her employer. After she left the house of her employer, she stayed at her friend’s apartment which has two rooms. In those two rooms, there are already two families with two newborn babies! Isabel stayed in the living room. After two days she was rushed to the hospital, and she gave birth to a premature baby through caesarean section. The premature labor likely was due to stress. Born at only six months gestation, the baby boy needed an incubator for three months. Now the child is almost three months old, and by God’s grace he’s healthy and ready to leave the hospital. However, Isabel and the baby won’t be discharged from the hospital unless she has a place to live. Isabel and her son cannot stay again at her friend’s house due to their WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Isabel and her son

These migrants are from two different countries and have different stories, but they both need a home and justice. These two women are just an example of the migrant situation here. As a missionary in this place, I must try to do what is right for them. situation. Now she keeps on looking for an apartment while her baby is in the hospital, but the problem is she cannot provide the documents that are needed to rent. They are a helpless mother and son with nowhere to turn. These migrants are from two different countries and have different stories, but they both need a home and justice. These two women are just

one example of the migrant situation here. As a missionary in this place, I must try to do what is right for them. At this time, I am accompanying them and helping them look for places to live. I am helping them in the only way I know how, but I think it is not enough. Maybe it is also a wake-up call for the church and to each one of us to open our doors to the needs of others especially for the migrants. We always proclaim to work and help the poor, but in this situation we should know the reality these migrants face—poor in justice, acceptance and attention. I’m still hoping that our doors and hearts will be open to those who need, because they are not the only migrants. All of us are also migrants in this world. CM Originally from the Philippines, Michael Javier is a Columban lay missionary living and working in Chile.

February 2018


The “Living Water” Encounter God’s Presence By Vida Hequilan

regular churchgoers, she never went with them. Her reason was that she was busy with her fruit and vegetable farm. On weekends she also went to the village market to sell her produce, so she did not have time to come to church. When I started working in the parish in 2006, I never saw her join any of the church activities except for the Christmas Mass and party. I do not remember having conversations with her whenever I went to the village market nor seeing her in her daughter’s house for house prayers. In 2012, the parish organized a pilgrimage to the Philippines. Since

Yada Umon’s life reminds me of the story of the Samaritan woman. After talking with Jesus in the well and drinking the living water, she was transformed.

Yada Umon


n my eleven years of ministering to the Atayal people of Miaoli County in Taiwan, I’ve listened to numerous stories about how God makes His presence felt in the lives of others. One story that touched me and left a deep impression in me is that of Yada Umon. Hers is a story that has really inspired me and others 50

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in the parish to live our faith and become more active members of the Church. When I first met Yada Umon, I learned that she was a baptized Catholic but for some reason did not go to Mass, house prayers or other church activities. Although her daughter and grandchildren were

she never went to church, she did not learn about this until registration was already closed. She wanted to join, but at that time we had already reached the maximum number of participants. However, one parishioner decided not to go due to health problems so Columban Father Andrei Paz, who organized the pilgrimage, told her that she would be able to take the other parishioner’s spot as a participant in the pilgrimage. I was in the Philippines at that time for my home holiday, and I was surprised to see her when I met the group at the airport. During the pilgrimage, we took them around the churches in the northern part of the WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Taiwan parishioners on pilgrimmage

Philippines. They were all in awe of the big churches, the miracle stories of Mary, the patron of the most churches we visited, and the number of Filipino parishioners who attended the Masses. Yada Umon was very grateful with the experience. She was smiling all the time and kept telling us about how happy and honored she was for being a part of the pilgrimage. After the pilgrimage, Yada Umon began coming to the church regularly and also invited parishioners for house prayer in her own home. On weekends, she still goes to the village market but this time, she goes only after attending the Mass. She said that even though she would be in the market village at a much later time than the other farmers, all her produce would still be sold out. She said that after her experience in the WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Philippines, and after becoming active in the church, she has become happier and more content with her life. She also encouraged her relatives and other parishioners, who like her stopped coming to church, to attend the Mass and house prayers. Some of these parishioners came to me and told me that Yada Umon visited them and shared about her experience during the pilgrimage that they too were encouraged to come to church. Her story inspired them to seek God. Yada Umon’s life reminds me of the story of the Samaritan woman. After talking with Jesus in the well and drinking the living water, she was transformed. Just like the Samaritan woman Yada Umon has also encountered the living water in her experience of the pilgrimage. She drank the water that Jesus

offers, a spring of water that wells up to eternal life, and she too was transformed. Yada Umon was filled with the fullness of God’s presence in her life that she happily shares this wonderful encounter with others. Now, Yada Umon is one of our active parishioners. She is also very generous with her fruit and vegetables with others. She sometimes gives me a box of fruits and vegetables to share with the migrant workers who are staying in the shelters. Her conversion story has not only inspired a lot of people in the parish but also encouraged me to continue to be transformed by my everyday encounter with God through His people. CM Vida Hequilan is a Columban lay missionary living and working in Taiwan.

February 2018


Amen to the Greatness of God Mission in a Muslim Country By Fr. Dan O’Connor

“Allahu akbar, God is greater,’ begins the call to prayer from the loud speakers of the thousands of mosques throughout Pakistan. We absolutely say AMEN to the GREATNESS of GOD. Pakistan has a population of two hundred million people of whom about 96% are Muslim, 2% Christian, and 2% Hindu. Columbans first came on mission to Pakistan in 1979. Over the years many have come and many have gone. There have been female and male, religious Sisters, lay and ordained, and students in formation. They have come from many cultures and nationalities. Columbans have been on mission in Lahore Diocese in the Punjab Province and in Hyderabad Diocese in the Sindh Province. At present we are a small group of eight in Hyderabad Diocese. We are especially committed to five priority areas of mission: (a) solidarity with the poor (b) solidarity with tribal people (c) justice and peace and the integrity of creation (d) inter-faith dialogue (e) local church formation. A project which is of great need 52

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is the Health and Tuberculosis Clinic based in the Badin Parish Church Compound. Badin is a city in the Badin District in the interior area of Sindh. The government allocates a small amount of money in the health budget whereas defense is allocated a major amount of the budget, roughly 38 times the amount spent on health. Hence the great need for the health clinic to be at the service of the sick and poor. Friday is the special day for patients to come to the clinic. Doctor Zakir, a Muslim, is the doctor in attendance each Friday assisted by our clinic staff. Patients come with a variety of diseases and sicknesses. The main ones being Hepatitis C, anemia, malaria, diarrhea, tuberculosis, chicken pox and skin diseases. The patients are mainly very poor. They are Muslim, Christian, Hindu and are from various tribal peoples. Most live in villages where living conditions are very primitive, such as no running water, no toilet facilities and no electricity. One is often touched on seeing their pitiable

health condition. It is especially heart rending to meet a child of one year of age suffering from tuberculosis. Sadly, and all too often, patients come in too late by which time they have become seriously ill. Reasons for this being that doctors in small towns and villages want the income from the patients’ fees and also the commission from the sale of drugs. Therefore they are reluctant to refer them to better qualified doctors in Badin City. In 2016, Doctor Zakir had 1,788 patient visits at the clinic! The health clinic has a special mission in the care of tuberculosis patients, mainly lung tuberculosis. People become victims of tuberculosis because of poor nutrition, bad hygiene and from smoking. When a person returns positive results to tuberculosis tests for blood, sputum and chest X-Ray, treatment is begun. The improved course is for six months. As a help to build up the health strength of the patients, vitamins and syrup is also given with the tuberculosis medicines. The patient’s name, tribe, address, WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Patients wait for the clinic to open.

Waiting at the TB clinic

Intake at the TB clinic

age, weight and where possible mobile phone number is recorded. A card is given to the patient stating the date when they must return to the clinic for a checkup and to receive another supply of medicines. Awareness is given to the patient and family members accompanying them about the medicines, diet and cleanliness. If they accept this advice they then promise to cooperate and be responsible with the course and clinic staff. Most patients are illiterate, so the information is clearly communicated. At each visit their weight is recorded. Children aged two suffering from tuberculosis can weigh only 8.8 pounds. Adult females weigh 5577 pounds and adult males 88-121 pounds. Gradually, with treatment and better diet, their weight increases. Empty tablet packets are also brought in as proof that the tablets were taken and not sold in the bazaar. Another supply of drugs are issued for the next two weeks. A token fee of fifty cents is paid to the clinic. However if a patient is too poor, this fee is wavered. Sometimes a patient may have to travel a long distance by bus from their village. In this case the fee is forgiven and a double supply of drugs are given to last a full month. It is extremely important that victims of tuberculosis every day continue their treatment. For various reasons sometimes patients do not return to the clinic for follow up checks and discontinue taking the medicines. The clinic staff then go in search of them. If they are able to find them the patient is asked why did they

not come for their checkup. Reasons given are... “I stopped because I experienced some side effects from the medicines.” “I went to another doctor because after two weeks of drugs I was still weak so I had hope that another doctor would cure me quickly.” “I did not have money to travel to your clinic as my husband would not give me money.’’ “I did not have money to travel to the clinic as the landlord on whose crops I till would not advance me any money.” “I was not quickly improving in health so I went off to see the witch doctor.” “We went eight hours travel away from Badin for to labor in the rice harvest to be able to obtain food to eat.” Sometimes when a woman is sick her husband and his family will send her off to her own parents to care for her. When this is the case at times the health center staff are able to reconcile families. During 2016, 146 tuberculosis patients completed the course and were fully cured. Twentythree went missing and were unable to be traced. Four were referred to another hospital for further investigation, and sadly four died.  Miriam Nasir, who is a staff member tells the story of Husanna. Husanna, a Muslim woman, was aged twenty when she came to our clinic for treatment. Her father Isaac brought her on his bicycle. He told me that his daughter is so sick and weak that she will die. He kept bringing her on his bicycle every second Friday for her check-up and new supply of medicines. After some weeks Husanna gained some weight and became stronger. She lived outside of the city

of Badin and having regained some of her strength she then did not need her father to bring her on his bicycle and so walked to the clinic. After completing the full treatment she was fully cured. Husanna was so delighted to have recovered her health again. She was so thankful to God and to the clinic staff that she happily gave sweets to the staff as a symbol of her gratitude for their love and care. Some months later she was married. Columbans here in Pakistan are extremely grateful for the support in many ways, both materially and spiritually, of our generous benefactors. You share with us in being part of trying to share in the Reign of God in this part of the vineyard. Jesus proclaimed, “When I was hungry you gave me to eat.” We could add…“When I was poor and sick you cared, helped and cured me.” Next to the clinic is a mosque. As the Friday’s clinic finished for the day the Maulvi (prayer leader in the mosque) gives the call for the main prayer of the week. “Allahu akbar, God is greater.” Each Friday a few hours later in the church we celebrate Mass in the language of the Parkari Kholi tribal people.  We can also pray in the words of Mary. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Savior ! …The Almighty has done great things for me, Holy is God’s name…God has put down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up those who are downtrodden....”  CM


Columban Fr. Daniel O’Connor lives and works in Pakistan.

February 2018


The Columban Mission Center


February 2018


Shelter for Refugees, Home for Justice By Fr. Robert Mosher


s people flee their homelands in massive numbers all around the world, Columbans support their local churches wherever they are, as they respond generously and warmly to newcomers and strangers. It is a stated priority for all Columban priests and lay missionaries. Columban Fr. Bill Morton began to look for a house near downtown El Paso in 2005, one that could serve as a base for university students and others on their service trips to the U.S.Mexico border. Mr. Ruben Garcia, founder of Annunciation House—a shelter offering hospitality to migrants and refugees since the 1970s—told Fr. Bill about an old, two-story building a few doors away. “The owner has a crew of painters working on it,” he told him. “I’ll bet you he’s thinking of selling it.” The Columban Mission Center opened its doors a few months later— and teams of carpenters and plumbers, builders and electricians entered. They tore down walls and put up new ones, adding a kitchen and patching up what could still be used. The floorboards from a nearby demolished school gym were sanded, coated and installed on the first level. Windows and doors were repainted and old fixtures repaired in bathrooms. Used furniture found a home, donated from offices and sold in flea markets.   U.S. Columban lay missionary Dan Diamond used his considerable computer skills to design the placement of a new, compositewood supporting beam to replace a load-bearing wall on the first floor, creating a large space for multimedia presentations and lectures. Ceiling WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

fans and larger attic ventilators, after the expulsion of pigeons and related detritus, kept the house cool during the day in this arid climate, with the help of insulated window blinds and stuccoed insulating material added to the outside walls. Twelve to eighteen groups per year use the Columban Mission Center as their home base. They spend the days visiting Annunciation House and cooking at least one meal for the 40 or so guests staying there, hearing presentations from the legal aid organizations in town and seeing the education and health projects operating in nearby Juarez, Mexico. The faces and voices of those fleeing poverty and violence make a deep impression and help to clarify issues only vaguely understood in their homes and houses of study, hundreds of miles from the realities of the border. The Border Awareness Experience helps mold attitudes and open doors to actions of advocacy and solidarity afterwards for many participants. Some even dedicate themselves to a year or more of work in the very countries they heard about, or take on a career in organizations dedicated to social justice and refugees.The Columban Mission Center also grew to welcome local groups, looking for an infrastructure of support, which reflect the priorities of the Columban Fathers. These priorities not only emphasized the dignity and rights of migrants, but the urgent needs for ecologically sustainable lifestyles and interreligious dialogue. After Fr. Bob Mosher arrived in 2011 to take over from Fr. Bill the running of the

Columban Mission Center, he and the administrative assitant, Sister Peggy Denawith of the Sisters of Charity (based in Cincinnati) hosted meetings and day-long retreats of Eco-El Paso, an umbrella group of green organizations and construction companies. The El Paso Solar Energy Association found a home there as well, under the 22 solar panels installed on the rooftop of the building and held workshops there.   The Interfaith Alliance of El Paso and Southern New Mexico began to operate in 2011, using the mission center for many of its meetings, and for a special daylong workshop on the issue of water availability and care. Guests from the Islamic Center of El Paso presented talks on Ramadan. The Columban Mission Center is home to the Young Adult Ministry of El Paso, the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, and more recently provided space for the “sanctuary” movements of university students at several institutions, organized under Education Not Deportation (E.N.D.) to support the rights of those brought to the U.S. as children and allowed to attend schools here. Refugees, our neglected planet and our brothers and sisters of other faith communities­—the Columban Fathers and lay missionaries have established a home in response to these “signs of the times,” our new areas for the mission of Christ today, allowing us to be instruments of God’s own work in special ways, out here in the desert.  CM Columban Fr. Robert Mosher lives and works in El Paso, Texas.

February 2018


Mercy and Justice The Heart of the Gospel and Columban Mission By Scott Wright



n this 100-year anniversary of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, we lift up the Gospel values of mercy and justice at the heart of Columban mission. It is with joy as well that this anniversary takes place at a time of renewal within the Church, and the call of Pope Francis to be “a poor church of the poor,” ministering in the “streets” and “field hospitals” of the world, where the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth invite us to be the face of mercy, and the Gospel calls us to be the hands and feet of justice on the side of the poor and future generations. Like Pope Francis, Columban missionaries offer a living example of mercy and justice in their compassionate embrace of migrants and refugees, in their solidarity with the poor and their struggle for dignity, in their bold invitation to hear the cry of the earth and to care for creation, and in their commitment to intercultural and interreligious dialogue as a pathway 56

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to genuine peace. In so many ways, Columbans have been at the forefront of the Church’s mission to the world, crossing boundaries of country, language, culture and creed to proclaim the Gospel through witness, ministry and dialogue, listening to and hearing the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO) serves as a bridge between Columban missionaries and policy makers in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to work towards a more just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world by engaging in the political process guided by our Catholic faith and the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation priorities of the Columban mission. In a world in which more people are on the move, crossing borders and fleeing from poverty, climate change and violence, Columbans live out the call to welcome the stranger in our midst. Around the world, Columbans minister to migrants and refugees,

defending the rights of migrant workers in Taiwan, serving migrant and refugee communities in Britain and Ireland, and accompanying detained immigrant men, women and children along the U.S.-Mexico border. The CCAO advocates for policies that both respect the human dignity of migrants and refugees and address the root causes of migration. In a world where the poor are victims of the destructive impact of global warming and changing climate patterns, Columbans work closely with poor communities to address the root causes of climate change, helping to found the Global Catholic Climate Movement and the Pan-Amazonian Church Network (REPAM) to respond to climate crisis. The CCAO strives to seek a right relationship with creation by supporting policies that protect creation, promoting sustainable renewable energy, and supporting just development models. In a world where the divide between rich and poor is growing, and WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

poor communities are increasingly at risk due to poverty, Columbans are called to walk in solidarity with the economically poor, and to defend their rights. The CCAO advocates for global economic policies and debt and trade agreements that address the needs of the poor and of the environment, supporting women and children, farmers and laborers in their struggles for land and work, food sovereignty and the right to water. And in a world torn by war and violence, Columbans work to cultivate a culture of intercultural and interreligious dialogue and peace, and contribute to the work of Pax Christi International as congregational members. Today Columban missionaries serve in Japan and Korea where nuclear weapons threaten global peace and stability, in areas of conflict like Pakistan and Myanmar and with indigenous communities in Chile, Peru and the Philippines. The CCAO lifts up the call to abolish nuclear weapons and to further develop a moral framework that supports just peace and nonviolence as alternatives to war. In addition to informing people about issues of concern to Columban missionaries, the CCAO offers a variety of opportunities for people to serve in the spirit and charism of the Columban mission. Throughout the year, the CCAO offers an Advocacy Internship for students who spend a semester or summer learning how to advocate for social and structural change through the lens of Columban mission. Interns specialize in a priority issue area or communications and learn how policies in the United States affect vulnerable populations around the world, including many areas where Columbans serve. Daily tasks include researching and monitoring current events and legislation, representing the CCAO at coalition meetings and other events, writing reflections, and attending events and meetings on Capitol Hill. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

The CCAO also promotes weeklong Border Awareness trips to the Columban Mission Center in El Paso, Texas. Columban missionaries who serve at the border facilitate contact with organizations that work on the front line of border issues, including poverty, migration, and environmental justice. Program participants have the opportunity to cross the border into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where Columbans serve a local parish. The CCAO coordinates ShortTerm Mission (3 – 12 months) overseas, particularly in the Asia Pacific region where Columban missionaries serve. Volunteers have the opportunity to experience crosscultural and interreligious dialogue. They will also discover how serving the poor and working for justice are an integral part of living out the Gospel call to serve. Currently, the program offers the opportunity to teach English or adult education in China, work with survivors of human trafficking in the Philippines, or work with migrants in Taiwan. More recently, the CCAO offers a week-long Advocacy Training program in Washington, D.C., for young adults, particularly those who come from immigrant families served by Columban missionaries at the border in El Paso, in immigrant parishes in California, and Hispanic

Ministry in Omaha, Nebraska. Participants learn how to advocate for structural change through immersion in the political process and meetings with our partner organizations. Program participants have the chance to share their own stories and lift up the voices of immigrant communities. The training empowers young adults to become advocates when they return to their own communities. In all these ways, the CCAO strives to be faithful to the mercy and justice at the heart of the Gospel and Columban mission, and to live up to the words of the Columban Superior General, Fr. Kevin O’Neil, SSC in a talk given at Maynooth in Ireland on November 30, 2015: “The source of our witness and actions is our faith in Jesus. We desire to mirror in our lives the pattern of Jesus’ life, helping people of all faiths, or no faith, to gain their dignity as sons and daughters of God, loved by God. . . . and to journey together with the people of God coming to a deeper awareness of humankind’s relationship with creation.” CM Scott Wright is the Director of the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (CCAO), located in Washington D.C. The CCAO has served as the national advocacy office for the U.S. Region of the Missionary Society of St. Columban since 1988.

The CCAO in action

February 2018


Constant Flame of Love Unconquerable and Enduring By Amy Woolam Echeverria


nniversaries frequently have symbols associated with them like silver for 25 and gold for 50. Mindful that this year Columban missionaries celebrate 100 years of witnessing God’s love through our relationships with people, especially those who are vulnerable and with the wounded Earth, I was curious what might represent an anniversary of 100 years. A quick internet search largely revealed that there is no symbol for 100 years presumably because it is a rare enough event that no symbol is necessary. However, one comment did assign the diamond stating that: Diamond means unconquerable and enduring. Many people believe that the fire in the diamond symbolizes the constant flame of love. It occurs to me also that diamonds are a stone known for their stunning


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and even blinding refractions of light. These images of fire and light that reflect a constant love seem most appropriate as we celebrate 100 years of Columban mission and look for illumination to the future. It is fair to say that love was the spark that enflamed the hearts of our founders. One of my favorite quotes about Columbans in the early years comes from a book written by Fr. James McCaslin called, The Spirituality of Our Founders. He writes in a section titled “Love and Service to the Poor,” This option on favor of the poor was in no way limited to this or that Columban. The cry of the poor has been in Columban ears constantly from the beginning. …They were acutely aware of the massive structural injustice….they could not change

unjust structures, but they did their best to alleviate the misery of the victims. For the love of God. Today this constant flame of love can be seen among other things, in the Columban commitment to justice, peace, and the integrity of creation (JPIC). Identified as a formal ministry in 1976, Columbans have included work for structural change as an integral part of our missionary endeavor for more than 40 years. In the light of Vatican II which opened the window for JPIC, Columbans were affirmed in what we knew from the beginning, that poverty, oppression, violence, and exploitation were interconnected and structural. We began to see more clearly and articulate more loudly our insights that the realities we experienced across the globe of living with the economically poor and the wounded Earth were linked to national and international economic, social, and environmental policies. As such, we hold in our Constitutions that being Columban means: Striving to have the Kingdom of God permeate the lives and cultures of all peoples, we proclaim the universal message of salvation through witness, ministry, and dialogue from the standpoint of solidarity with the poor…It means supporting the struggle of the poor for real participation and against injustice… to thirst for God’s justice and [be] peacemakers enamored of true Godgiven community. Moving beyond the pages of theory – Columban JPIC is flesh and bone, heart and soul, hands and feet. Our commitments to issues like migration, climate change, peace, and inter-religious dialogue are because behind each issue there is a person, countless people with names, faces, and families that are marginalized economically, socially, politically, and/or religiously. There is the WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

natural world that has been wounded especially because of human overconsumption. Joining with national and international networks like Global Catholic Climate Movement and Pax Christi International, Columbans are helping to shape and implement Catholic Social Teaching through encyclical’s like Laudato Si', and the Catholic Nonviolent Initiative. We lend our voices to dialogues happening in national governments and international institutions like the United Nations. We strive to be links between local realities and structural change. We invite people to learn about JPIC through experiential educational opportunities like our advocacy internship in Washington, D.C., short term volunteer service and mission exposure experiences to the US-Mexico Border and other countries around the world. Let me share with you my most recent experience of encountering Columbans’ constant love for the poor and the wounded Earth. I was visiting our mission in Myanmar where Columbans have recently formally returned after about 35 years of exile. One of the pressing concerns

in the country is the conflict between ethnic minorities and the Burmese majority. Columbans both historically and contemporarily find ourselves concentrated in the Kachin State where much of the country’s most intense fighting plays out. One of the consequences of this internal war is the internal displacement of thousands of people from their land and homes and into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. I had the opportunity to visit several IDP camps while in Myanmar. The conditions were heartbreaking with entire families living in one 12x12 bamboo room with no running water, limited electricity, poor health and sanitary conditions, and only limited access to education. I was inspired to see that Columbans, the dioceses, and international Catholic aid agencies were all working together and trying to respond to this reality in some way or another through things like resources, education and pastoral accompaniment. Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’ invites us to hear the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth. Columbans find ourselves listening

Columban lay missionaries at the IDP camp in Myanmar WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

to those cries every day. While in one camp, one man shared with me his longing to return to his village so that his children would know the land of their roots and to be able to live peacefully as their ancestors have done for generations. In another camp, when word was out that Columbans were visiting, one woman aged 98 years came quickly to greet us. She was affectionately called, Adwi Gungai, or Grandmother. With warmth and emotion, she spoke of knowing the first Columbans who arrived in Myanmar in the early 1930s. She would have been a young girl at the time, and it was clear that she had carried a constant love for Columbans all her life – happy to be reunited after decades of separation. It is easy to be inspired by these encounters with people who carry in their hearts sparks of love, light and hope for the future that shine as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians: Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” (2Cor 3:1718; 4:6) Adwi Gungai was a living witness to the constant flame of love that Columbans have tried to live for the last century. As we look forward towards the next century, may Adwi Gungai be a reminder to us all of our hearts burning to be in relationship with each other and especially the wounded world. May the diamond of today be our fire for tomorrow. CM Amy Woolam Echeverria is the international JPIC coordinator for the Missionary Society of St. Columban.

February 2018


Columban Mission in Britain Continuing Inspiration By Fr. Peter Hughes


s we look back on 100 years of Columban mission worldwide, here in Britain we give thanks to God for all the gifts and challenges which have been showered on us. At this important moment in our history we commit ourselves with renewed energy to what the future may bring, confident that the God of Mission will continue to inspire and guide us. The Columban centennial is an opportunity, not only to celebrate with joy, but also to discern our small but unique contribution to God’s mission in the future. In Britain, our mission has four priorities which are: 1. To raise awareness of and elicit support for Columban missions 2. To work in solidarity with the poor and the exploited earth for justice, peace and the integrity of creation; 3. To promote life-giving relationships between peoples of different cultures and religions 4. To facilitate mission for others and the exchange of personnel and resources between Britain and other places where Columbans work. Columbans have had a missionary presence in Britain for more than sixty years. We believe that our experience on overseas mission broadens our vision of the Church, providing an important dimension to our work in Britain.

Partnership Partnership is “our way of being on mission” (2012 Columban General Assembly), and calls us to work 60

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Fr. Peter Hughes (r) at a Mass for migrants

alongside others, lay, ordained and Religious. “...I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Philippians 1:4-5a We work in partnership with: The Columban Sisters - a congregation of missionary sisters inspired by St. Columban, committed to witnessing to God’s love and compassion. In many situations around the world Columban priests work closely with Sisters. Columban Lay Missionaries are individuals called by God to leave family, culture and country on journeys of presence, witness and service. They make a commitment of a minimum of three years and are at the heart of Columban mission around the world. The program has been running in Britain since 1983, with lay missionaries coming from the Philippines and Chile. They are crucial to our inter-faith apostolate in Birmingham. In addition, lay missionaries have been sent from Britain on mission to different countries where Columbans work. Priest Associates-Diocesan or Religious priests who join Columban mission for a period of time, usually six years. The experience proves to be mutually beneficial, with us gaining from their time and effort and them returning to their home churches enriched by their cross cultural mission experience.

In addition, we welcome the presence of lay co-workers, exemplifying the growing awareness of extended partnership in Columban mission.

Interreligious Dialogue Migrant and inter-faith work has been a priority. This has included opening a house in East London, engaging with Asian immigrant communities, establishing a presence amongst the Muslim community in Bradford and working to support new and good relations between Muslim and Christian groups in Birmingham. Columbans have worked in a number of parishes across England and Scotland, including in Liverpool, Birmingham, and London. In 2005, the Columbans were invited to take charge of St. Catherine’s parish in the heart of Birmingham City, with particular outreach to migrants and asylum seekers. The doors of St. Catherine’s presbytery were opened to destitute asylum seekers and their families, providing accommodation and hospitality. The basement was made available to the City Council as a venue for their work with children excluded from school. Our General Assembly in 2012 situated the work of the Society under the title of “Called to Communion.” Religious communities are faced today with multicultural membership in multicultural contexts, and this reality calls for a re-interpretation of their charisms and the way they serve God’s WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

people. We are called into communion with all peoples, with God and with Creation. Our way of life reflects our message and is a sign of the communion that should exist among all peoples. Pope Francis writes: “In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, we are called to offer a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters.” Columban involvement in interreligious dialogue in Britain goes back many years and has multiple dimensions. It means standing alongside other faiths in times of crisis, being good neighbors and building bridges between peoples of different faith traditions. It calls us to work for justice with asylum seekers and show hospitality to migrants and minority communities. Work in London has included the founding and support of projects for Filipino Migrant Workers, campaigning against deportations and offering assistance to those in need. This has included the Filipino Chaplaincy, the Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers, the Migrant Action Group and Justice for Domestic Workers and Kalaayan. In Birmingham, interreligious projects that the Columbans have been involved in in recent years include: Fatima House: A house of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers, supported collaboratively by the Columbans and other Catholic organizations in the Archdiocese of Birmingham. This is run by Columban priests and lay missionaries The Communitas Project: A partnership between the local Catholic community and a Muslim organization, aiming to promote WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

wellbeing among elderly people from both communities. Refugees Welcome: Offering hospitality to asylum seekers who are required to report to the home office on a regular basis. Restore: A project of Birmingham Churches together, supporting asylum seekers and refugees through advocacy, befriending and training. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews, 13:2)

Columban Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Justice and Peace ministry has been an integral part of the Columban missionary contribution to Britain for more than 30 years. Our priorities include poverty, environmental justice (particularly climate change, extractive industries and access to water), migration, peace and economic justice. Columbans are known for our work in raising awareness of justice and peace. We have produced videos, such as the “Migrants Mass 2016,” “Stations of the Forest,” and “Conflict and Climate Change” (collaboratively with Pax Christi and the Movement for the Abolition of War). Education work includes our popular study guide on Laudato Si' as well as work with young people and educators, helping them to explore the relationship between faith and action. We run a one-year volunteer program, providing formation opportunities for young adults. “...I want a Church which is poor and for the poor.” (Pope Francis)

Raising Awareness of and Support for Columban Mission As Columban missionaries engaged in cross-cultural mission, we see ourselves as agents of exchange between local churches. In responding to its missionary call to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus,

each local church is asked to give and receive, sharing its gifts and experience and being enriched by the gifts and experience of others. Prayerful and financial support is invaluable. Without the generous support of our donors Columban mission would not be possible. Weekend parish mission appeals give us the opportunity to thank our benefactors personally. We continue to be overwhelmed by the generous response to our appeals and are enormously grateful for the committed support we receive from people in Britain. Columbans offer an “Invitation to Mission Program,” giving the opportunity for people to learn through experience and encounter. This program is now into its third year, with groups having visited the U.S./Mexico border, Chile and Pakistan. We have hosted a group from the U.S. in Britain.

A Community of Prayer The Columban mission office in England receives many calls, letters and e-mails requesting Masses and prayers for family members and friends who are experiencing ill health or difficulties in their lives. Specific prayer requests are collated and circulated around the Columban region on a weekly basis. The Prayer Trust was started in 2000 under the leadership of Columban Fr. Pat Sayles. Having spent years in Peru as a Columban missionary, Fr. Pat is aware of the uplifting power of prayer across the world. Fr. Pat is now based at St. Columban’s Solihull. Thank you for sharing in the celebration of our centenary and for all you do. Perhaps you may feel called to partnership in Columban mission in new ways in the future. CM Columban Fr. Peter Hughes is the director of the British region.

February 2018


Finding Life in the Desert God’s Light Shining Brightly By Columban seminarian Martin Koroiciri


t was a hot, sunny day in February when we four seminarians and four lay people from the Columban Mission Collaborators (CMC) set out to prepare for a month of mission in the north of Lima, Peru. After seven hours of traveling we finally managed to reach the small town we would come to know as Jimbe, a small community of people comprised mainly of farmers. As we started out our first week of visitation I noticed even though it was a desert there was still life in these communities, life in both the sense of the land and also the people. If anyone were to drive up from Lima, they would notice just sand and more sand, but as they enter the junction driving uphill to Jimbe, they would notice channels of water running along the road and into sugar cane fields and mango fields and then avocado fields. They would also notice grass and all sorts of plants indicating that the land is alive.

Farewell Mass


February 2018

I had a similar experience with the people of Jimbe. When we set out to visit the people in villages of Santa Rosa, Macracancha, and El Arenal we saw poorly built houses with rooftops that could not prevent water from entering in, even though it is known to rain at least three times a week in that district. We saw houses that were destroyed from soil erosion and floods. We observed all of these realities and heard a lot of stories from the people themselves as well as from their parish priest Fr. John Davis. Fr. John warned us not to be deceived by the beautiful design of the houses because some houses may be appealing on the outside but are bare on the inside, meaning no furniture or even mattresses. Some families had had to sleep lying on the floor with children on the arms of their mothers trying to keep warm at night. At first glance, I thought to myself, this is truly a desert, where hope cannot possibly

exist; but then I noticed the people, and how their acts of kindness to help families that had lost everything, just because they felt it was the right thing to do. I was fortunate to witness two occasions where the unity of the people proved stronger than anything that came in their path. The first occasion came as a surprise, we received news that a water canal had burst open due to floods that came from the top of the hills and flooded fields of cassava and mangos causing soil erosion to wash into a village and destroy houses in its path. It was in a small village called El Arenal, and eventually a group of men came over from nearby villages to help. Some of us from the mission program decided to help in whatever way we could and within two to three days the canal was rebuilt and restored in good working condition allowing the water to flow again into the plantations. Through their perseverance they

Enjoying a visit


managed to maintain their farms in good health. The municipality may have helped in some ways, but I believe that without the strength and courage and their belief in the men of the villages within and around El Arenal, the canal would not have been built as quickly and as well as it had been. The second occasion happened just a few days after the first, when they celebrated a festival called the “Yunza” which was held in Jimbe where they had a tradition of cutting a huge tree from the bottom of the hill, tying a rope onto it and as one community they would pull the tree right up to the top of the hill through the town. Strong men, young men, even old people and children would come together to help pull this big tree. I was astounded at the way they found joy and hope in the midst of sadness and loss. For some it might have been an opportunity to drink beer and just have fun, but I believe

The long walk


for others it was a sign of their bond, their unity and their belief in each other as one family instead of separate communities on this rocky, hilly desert. Every mission day started with a Laudes prayer with the parish priest and ended with an evening Mass usually in the main chapel in town. These prayers and Masses are key to our mission by drawing strength from the source of all creation and the reason for our mission, to continue the mission of Jesus Christ in a manner best described by Saint Francis “Preach the word of the God to the whole world, use words if necessary.” At the final Mass on Saturday night I was surprised that the main celebrant, the assistant parish priest Fr. Wilmer, asked Dong and I (because we were leaving the next day for Lima) to share a few words about our experience of mission. After

consulting with my brother (Dong) I decided to take the first opportunity to thank the people for helping me to believe that God exists in Jimbe, in spite of all the danger that they face every day with natural disasters and extensive economic poverty in this small town. God still has his ways of affirming His love and presence in them. Just a few minutes before the Mass started, there was a procession of three crosses that came from the top of the hill, and they said it was also a long time tradition of the community called “Cruz del siglo” (Cross of the century). It is from this experience that I believe that dark times are just opportunities to let God’s light shine brighter in a land that could easily be called dead there is life, and life abundantly. CM Columban seminarian Martin Koroiciri has returned to Fiji to complete his theological studies.

The canal

February 2018


From the Minarets and Mosques in Pakistan... the Churches and Bells in Rome

By Fr. Robert McCulloch


fter 34 years of missionary work in Pakistan, I came to Rome at the end of 2011 to serve as the procurator-general of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. The Columbans have a residence in Rome called Collegio San Colombano for priests who are studying in Rome, for those who have official business and also for visitors. This is where I live. The first and most important role in Rome of the procurator-general of any religious society or congregation is to represent the superior-general and his council at the various Vatican offices. Our Columban superior-


February 2018

general lives in Hong Kong, so I facilitate any matters between the Vatican and him. I also assist some of the dioceses where Columbans are working or which have had long missionary connections with Columbans. Columbans have worked in the Philippines since 1927 and have a good relationship with the Mission Society of the Philippines which was founded fifty years ago. As part of this relationship I am also the procurator general of this Mission Society of the Philippines. One of the very good effects of the pontificate of Pope Francis has been a fresh commitment

and readiness of the clerical and lay officials in the Vatican offices [called dicasteries or the Curia] to deal quickly and efficiently with matters which are brought before them. This makes my work pleasant. It is good to collaborate with these officials in friendship and with a common vison to serve the needs of the Church throughout the world. The Columbans are not a big society. However, when speaking to people in Rome who are in leadership of much larger religious orders, congregations and societies I have been surprised to realize the importance and quality of the sharing that Columbans are able to do about important issues which have come from our missionary experience in many countries. On behalf of our superior general I have presented to Vatican offices the Columban policies on socially responsible and ethical investment, climate change, migrants, and inter-religious dialogue. The response has been one of genuine appreciation for well-presented statements on key moral and missionary issues, some of which are still being worked upon by the Vatican and other religious congregations. My working contact in Rome as procurator-general with men and women of many nationalities in leadership positions of religious congregations and societies has helped me understand the huge international network of faith and ministry in the Catholic Church. I had taught about this as an historic reality in my church history courses at the major seminary in Karachi. I am now experiencing it as an actual present-day reality. Meetings, conferences, liturgies, and gatherings in friendship are occasions for crossing boundaries of culture, race and language. This is made easier by the fact that we share the one faith and also because we speak Italian as our new common language whether we are from China, Malawi, India, Australia, or France. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Being in Rome has been an opportunity for me to develop close ecumenical relations with the Anglican and Methodist Churches. The Archbishop of Canterbury has his personal representative to the Holy See as does the World Methodist Federation. My commitment to ecumenism is something I received from my parents. Although it hardly appears on the official Columban “home page” I believe that it is difficult to be a missionary and ignore the ecumenical challenge and possibilities for collaboration for justice and peace, for human rights and religious freedom, in interreligious dialogue, and against human trafficking and slavery. Through the ecumenical hospitality of Archbishop Justin Welby, I arranged for Cardinal George Pell to celebrate Mass on July 7, 2015, at the main altar in Canterbury Cathedral. This was the first time since the Reformation. In January 2016, in collaboration with the Anglican Center in Rome, with the approval of two Italian government ministries and of one Vatican office, and with the assistance of the British Embassy to the Holy See, I carried the crozier associated with Pope St. Gregory the Great from Rome to Canterbury. It was St. Gregory who sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize the English in 596. The occasion for taking his crozier to Canterbury was a “make-or-break” WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

meeting of all the senior Anglican archbishops called by the Archbishop of Canterbury to deal with serious doctrinal and moral issues. The crozier was a symbol of the support in prayer and hope of Rome for the Anglicans. For them it was a reminder from history of what they possessed together as Anglicans in faith, spirituality, tradition, and missionary endeavour especially in Africa. Following this, Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby met in the basilica of St. Gregory in Rome on October 5, 2016. Pope Francis gave Archbishop Welby a replica of St. Gregory’s crozier which the archbishop now uses in Canterbury Cathedral and Archbishop Welby gave the Holy Father his pectoral cross. During this same ceremony, Pope Francis and the archbishop commissioned a Catholic bishop and an Anglican bishop from nineteen countries to work together in ecumenical collaboration in their own country. Two bishops from Pakistan were included; I taught the Catholic bishop when he was a seminarian and count the Anglican bishop as a good friend. After a proposal I made that Anglican Evensong be celebrated in St. Peter’s basilica, the ceremony took place on March 13, 2017, at the Altar of the Chair immediately behind the papal altar. It was presided over by an Anglican archbishop, the sermon was preached by a Catholic archbishop, and the music was provided by the

choir of Merton College, Oxford. This was the first Anglican or Protestant act of worship ever celebrated in St. Peter’s and reflected the ecumenical hope expressed by Pope Francis during his recent visit to Sweden: “We are still not one but let us act as if we will be one.” I have nurtured excellent bonds in action, prayer and friendship with the Methodist Center in Rome and have been able to connect it with the Justice and Peace and Inter-Religious Dialogue Commissions of the Unions of Superior Generals. Meeting ambassadors accredited to the Holy See has created fruitful points of contact especially in the countries where Columbans are present. In 2016 the Irish ambassadors to the Holy See and to Italy joined the celebration in Rome of the 100th anniversary of the Easter uprising in Dublin with the 100th anniversary of the Columbans receiving approval from bishops in Ireland to begin their missionary work in China. Good contacts with the diplomats means that issues of Columban concern can be effectively presented and often visa difficulties for missionaries can be resolved. I maintain excellent contacts with the Pakistan ambassadors to the Holy See and to Italy. I assist them in making their view heard in the Vatican offices. I am able, in turn, to insist to them on issues relating to human rights, religious freedom, and the blasphemy laws which threaten Christians and others. It is a relationship of respect and understanding. Being procurator-general for the Columbans is an interesting position with many possibilities for furthering the work of our Society and making the Society better known on the international level. These are some of the possibilities that I have been able to make realities. CM Columban Fr. Robert McCulloch lives and works in Rome, Italy.

February 2018


Follow Me Waiting in Joyful Hope By Fr. John Burger


he Columban Fathers’ house in Bristol, Rhode Island, was a seminary for many years, but in the 1960’s there were a few vacant priest rooms and a few retired Columbans moved in. Gradually the house changed from being a place where we trained our newest members to being a place where our oldest members live. Those familiar with the Gospel of St. John will remember the scene of the resurrected Jesus encountering St. Peter. In verse 18, Jesus contrasts the freedom of youth with the restrictions of old age.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I

All artwork in this article by Columban missionaries living in Bristol


February 2018

love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” The triple questioning of Simon corresponds to his triple denial before the crucifixion. I keep coming back to this passage when I think about the lives of our senior Columban Fathers who are living in retirement at our house in Bristol. The median age for those in the house, myself included, is 83. Life as a missionary has a way of repeatedly asking of those of us who are trying to walk this path, “Do you really love the Lord?” and “Are you really doing a good job at feeding His lambs?” At various times of the life cycle, the answers might be different. “Lord you know that I love you,” some might go on to say, “Look at how I have traveled so many miles, learned to preach in a foreign language, learned to eat unusual foods. All this I accomplished when I was young.” The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

When we look back on the past all we usually see behind us is a cold and lonely field of stubble, and we think nothing is left of our life’s work, forgetting all the while about the full granaries in which are stored up the harvest of our lives. But a time of life arrives, for those lucky enough to live into their ninth decade, when even the most energized among us must begin to pull back from all the going and doing. The good

to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” Times and seasons of our lives change. At another time, a time of mid-life crisis, the answer to Jesus questions might be, “There are times I am busy and stressed and I find myself doubting, but I am sticking with it, because I believe You called me to this life and You will show me the way.” Still another time, the missionary might think, “I have foregone the pleasures of home and family, but God and His people have been good to me.” By the time a priest is resident in a retirement home, most people would probably conclude he has things figured out, but there are still many challenges, both physical and spiritual. There is a famous saying, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” It is attributed to actress Bette Davis; but whoever first said it really did name an important reality. Everyone has a few aches and pains, and many have diminished sight, hearing and energy. But in the later part of life, the questions one faces can become temptations to despair. One veteran Columban described the experience in these words: WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

Active Aging In more recent years the former Columban seminary in Bristol, Rhode Island, has been expanded and adapted into a residence for older, retired missionary priests. There are seats and grab bars in the showers, and most importantly an elevator. Presently there are twenty Columbans in residence and all have spent years somewhere on the overseas missions. They range in age from 67 to 93. At those ages nearly everyone has some physical limitations due to the effects of aging, but they also still have the ability to learn new things and acquire new skills. Inspired by the Osher Life-long Learning Institute at the University of Rhode Island, we have begun our own in-house program similar to the one at the university, albeit on a much smaller scale. The purpose is to enhance the enjoyment, meaning and direction of the fathers’ lives as well as promote health and well-being. The Columban program is called simply “Active Aging in Bristol” and consists of short-term learning modules of roughly eight weeks each. This program provides our retired Columbans with opportunities for learning through programs that nourish the mind, body and spirit. Stimulating programs of this type have been proven to delay the progression of aging. The first of these modules, choral singing, was begun in February 2014. Mrs. Sheila Schattle, a neighbor and music director at the Methodist Church in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, was engaged to lead the singing sessions over a nine week period. Over the last few years, we have located teachers locally and had short courses in quite a variety of other topics: acrylic painting, writing, Rhode Island history, watercolor painting, and seated tai-chi. We also have twice-a-week exercise classes with a trainer from a local fitness center. The trainer does an excellent job of gearing up or gearing down the exercises to match the abilities of those who participate. We believe that participation with others and learning new things even as the priests age will not only make their lives more interesting, but also contribute to their physical well-being.

February 2018


When we look back on the past all we usually see behind us is a cold and lonely field of stubble, and we think nothing is left of our life’s work, forgetting all the while about the full granaries in which are stored up the harvest of our lives. In addition to all that, most missionaries have led lives of action: miles driven, buildings built, sermons But a time of life arrives, for those lucky enough to live into their ninth decade, when even the most energized among us must needs begin to pull back from all the going and doing. Men who have tried to live their lives as “men for others” find themselves coping with bodies that demand more attention to themselves. Visits to the homes of the poor are replaced by visits to the podiatrist, the optometrist, the cardiologist, the dermatologist, and so on. The Columbans have put in


February 2018

place a wonderful staff here. Everyone, the maintenance man, the nurses, the housekeepers, cooks, office staff contribute to a caring atmosphere. I think our presence has a symbolic meaning. Just by being present we are saying to senior Columbans, “You have been playing an important part of the Columban story for years, now that you are in the position of dealing with physical limitations, we are not going to just leave you to your own devices.” Of course, there is a great variation in how our senior Columbans are doing at meeting all the challenges and appreciating the blessings of a long life. Despite saying that we are “waiting in joyful hope,” many if not most of us do not like to dwell too much on end of life issues. Some have prepared well for the less pastorally active retired lifestyle and have adapted well. Others seem to

have assumed that they could move from their eighth to their ninth decade of life without making any concessions to diminished ability to hear and see and move. For these, adjustment can be a test of their spiritual mettle. I am continually finding I have things to learn from the residents at Bristol. Many of them are more disciplined than I about taking exercise and other steps to promote and preserve their health. As one would expect, they are faithful to religious practices like Mass and the divine office. I also hope that I am learning a few lessons about aging with wisdom and grace and peace that will stand me in good stead tomorrow or the next day or whenever my time comes. CM Columban Fr. John Burger lives and works in Bristol, Rhode Island.


It is a great blessing to accompany someone as they hear the Good News for the first time and to learn of God’s love.

A Great Transformation Columban Mission in Japan By Fr. Leo Schumacher


n January 1948, two Columban priests arrived in a devastated, demoralized Japan. Less than two and a half years after the end of World War II, the cities were in ruins, the people dispirited and the local church in disarray. The Columban Society had been invited by the local bishops to help rebuild the church and to bring the hope of the gospel to a nation in despair. The Society responded with enthusiasm and there were 25 Columban priests in Japan by the end of that year, already in the process of founding new churches, starting educational facilities and looking for ways to alleviate the worst of the people’s suffering. During the past 70 years, over 160 Columban priests and lay missionaries have served in Japan and have witnessed a great transformation of the country. The cities have been rebuilt, not once, but two or three WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

times. The people are highly educated and are among the longest lived in the world. The Catholic Church has expanded throughout the country, and though not in great numbers is well regarded. I would describe it as being like the church during the time of the New Testament: small communities, rich in faith and always ready to share the hope we have in Christ. And that message of hope resonates with the men and women who visit our churches and start on their journey of faith. It is a great blessing to accompany someone as they hear the Good News for the first time and to learn of God’s love. The Columbans working in Japan are very much involved in pastoral ministry. At the same time thanks to our international character, we have been able to take up new tasks within the church. Many of us are involved in ministering to migrants. I have been

pleasantly surprised to meet Filipinos, Peruvians and Myanmar people who have known Columban missionaries in their home countries and have many kind memories of them. Certainly we do belong to a universal church, which also means we are able to bring a global view on major issues. Concern for the environment would be the key area that has benefited from the dedicated work of Columbans over many years. In 2016 we moved from our large suburban center house into a downtown parish. Making the move with us was a fairly large statue of Mary, that had been donated to us soon after the Columban mission started in Japan. Previously she had been at the entrance to our chapel, but in the much smaller building that we moved to there was no place for Mary inside the house. Instead we built a little alcove for her next to the busy road outside. When returning from shopping or from a walk, I often see Japanese stopping in front of the statue bowing their heads or maybe taking a photo. One Japanese man came up to me after Mass and told me that he had worked in the area for 30 years and had never been inside the church. That day he saw the statue of Mary and felt he had to enter the church and to learn more. How can they believe in Christ if they have never heard about him? “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14 CM Columban Fr. Leo Schumacher lives and works in Japan.

February 2018


Sharing Gospel Joy


his year, as Columban missionaries celebrate a century of mission, we pause to look back and marvel at the abundance of God’s blessings. This centennial year is an occasion for us to recognize not only those blessings that God has bestowed upon us and others in far-off mission lands, but also for the blessings that we have received through our loyal and generous supporters back home. A major reason, therefore, to celebrate this important milestone is to express our gratitude to God and to the all the people who have been part of our missionary endeavors during these past hundred years. From the outset, Columban missionaries have been migrants for Christ. Founded in 1918 for mission in China, we gradually expanded our nets across the globe. Following Jesus’ command to “go out to all the world and

From the Director By Fr. Tim Mulroy

proclaim the Good News,” and responding to God’s call in our hearts, Columban missionaries leave behind our family and our home country in order to become international messengers of God’s unconditional love and mercy. Through the pages of this mission magazine, we have shared with you our dreams and our endeavors as we moved from China to Chile, from Belize to Brazil, and from the Philippines to Peru. Columban missionaries go not only to the ends of the earth, but also to those people who live on the fringe of society. In doing so, we are 70

February 2018

As we gaze into the future, all of us realize that our world will continue to be in need of divine assistance. guided by the example of Jesus throughout His public ministry: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set free those who are oppressed. (Lk 4:18) Throughout this past century, in various countries, Columban missionaries have walked side by side with the poor and with those suffering great hardships. Some Columban missionaries were martyred, while many others remained living in very difficult circumstances, conveying God’s faithful love through their commitment to prayer and the sacraments, the development of projects and parishes, and the promotion of justice and peace. During our centennial year we give thanks for these inspirational leaders in the faith, these pioneers in mission, these heroes of fidelity who motivate us to step forward into a new century of Columban mission with confidence in God’s unfailing guidance and grace. As we gaze into the future, all of us realize that our world will continue to be in need of divine assistance. Poverty and violence are WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

forcing large numbers of people to abandon their homelands, leaving them with a grim and fearful future. Moreover, as the world becomes smaller, hostility between people of different cultures and traditions will continue to cause all of us uncertainty and anxiety. Furthermore, as more and more people around the world adopt a consumeristic lifestyle, our common home, the earth, will be plundered further. In the face of such grave challenges, there remains an urgent need for international messengers of hope, dedicated ambassadors for Christ, and committed witnesses to the Gospel message of justice and peace across our world. Unlike earlier generations, younger Columban missionaries are building bridges not just between the east and the west, but all around our world. In earlier decades, all WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

of our priests were from English-speaking countries. They spent their lives proclaiming the Good News in East Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Thanks to their labors and the efforts of so many others, including the local people, the Church became firmly established in those places. Not only that, but in more recent decades, Christians in those countries have developed a deep sense of their own missionary responsibility. Consequently, the vast majority of young Columban missionaries, both priests and lay people, come from Korea and the Philippines, Fiji and Tonga, Chile and Peru. Indeed, during this past century we have traveled a full circle, since there are plans to ordain the first Chinese Columban missionary priest during this centennial year. Whatever our country of origin, Columban missionaries still follow the inspiration of our founders, Bishop Edward Galvin and Fr. John Blowick, to proclaim to the world that, as children of the same God, all of us are called to live together as brothers and sisters. As we celebrate a century of mission, we already know from our experiences that Jesus fulfills His promise to reward one hundred-fold those who leave home and property, family and friends, for the sake of the Gospel. On so many occasions and in so many different countries, we have been humbled by the generosity of the poor; blessed by the hospitality of strangers; and amazed by the faith commitment of the people we encountered. Such an abundance of good things gives us confidence that God, and those who share God’s dream for our world, will continue to accompany us and provide for us as we embark on a new century of Columban mission.

February 2018


Columban Fathers PO Box 10 St. Columbans, NE 68056


Transform the Lives of Others…Enrich the World…Give Hope Columban Mission magazine is published eight times each year and tells the stories of our missionaries and the people they are called to serve. Columban missionaries live in solidarity with their people and, together, they move forward to improve their social, economic and spiritual lives, always with Our Savior as their guide and their eyes on God’s Kingdom. For a $10 donation or more, you or a friend or loved one can share in our baptismal call to mission and the Columban Father’s mission work around the world through Columban Mission magazine. To begin receiving your Columban Mission magazine or to provide a gift to a loved one, simply visit our website at, call our toll-free number 877-299-1920 or write to us at: Columban Mission Magazine Subscription Missionary Society of St. Columban P.O. Box 10 St. Columbans, NE 68056

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is who is saying to you ‘give me a drink,’ you would have asked and he would have given you living water.” — John 4:10

If you feel a thirst to spread the word of Jesus, we would love to discuss missionary life with you.

We invite you to join this new generation by becoming a Columban Father or Columban Sister. If you are interested in the missionary priesthood, write or call… Fr. Bill Morton National Vocation Director Columban Fathers St. Columbans, NE 68056 877-299-1920 Email: Website:

If you are interested in becoming a Columban Sister, write or call… Sr. Carmen Maldonado National Vocation Director Columban Sisters 2546 Lake Road Silver Creek, NY 14136 716-934-4515 Email: Websites:

Japan + Korea + Peru + Hong Kong + Philippines + Pakistan + Chile + Fiji + Taiwan + North America

Columban Mission Magazine - February 2018  

Columban Mission magazine is published 8 times a year with stories and information about the Columban Fathers and their missionary work arou...

Columban Mission Magazine - February 2018  

Columban Mission magazine is published 8 times a year with stories and information about the Columban Fathers and their missionary work arou...