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The Magazine of the Missionary Society of St. Columban

December 2016

The Love of the Savior COLUMBAN MISSION DEC16.indd 1

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o n t e n t s

Issue Theme –The Love of the Savior

Volume 99 - Number 8 - December 2016

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 e-mailing us at MISSIONOFFICE@COLUMBAN.ORG. Mailing Address: Columban Mission PO Box 10 St. Columbans, NE 68056-0010

Mother of Divine Mercy Village

10 In the Eyes of the Child 12

4 The Christmas Season Is Upon Us Once Again!

A Non-Stop Celebration

6 A Place to Be Still

Finding the Waiting God

7 The Presence of God 8 Christmas by the Bay

All Hearts Need Christmas

16 People Were Thirsty for God

A Missionary for the Andes of Peru

20 In the Name of the Trinity, I am a Missionary

A Messenger of His Love

Departments 3 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.


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In So Many Words Silent Night


ow was it that Columban priest, Fr. Dick Ranaghan, spurred Bing Crosby into making his first record of Silent Night? Fr. Ranaghan was already a priest when in 1917 he joined the fledgling organization that soon became known as the Missionary Society of St. Columban. From the outset it was clear that he had a special talent in communications, and so he assisted first in our mission magazine office in Ireland, and then later in doing mission promotion across the U.S. However, when the first group of Columban priests had finished their preparation and were ready to set sail for China in 1920, Fr. Ranaghan was on board with them. During the years that followed, Fr. Ranaghan became even more keenly aware not just of the unique challenges and opportunities that were present in China, but also of the importance of communicating the Columban mission experience there to family members, supporters and young people in the U.S. and Ireland. With this in mind, he got a movie camera and began recording the life and ministries of his Columban confreres in China. Then, he returned to the U. S. where he edited the materials and composed the storyline to accompany and explain them. Later, in order to record the narration, he approached Crosby Enterprises to request the loan of their sound equipment. It was there that Fr. Ranaghan encountered Larry and Bing Crosby, who became interested in his novel project. In the course of their conversations, Larry made the seemingly wild suggestion that Bing might provide some songs for the soundtrack. Never a man to miss an opportunity, Fr. Ranaghan pursued the idea and was able to convince them to follow through with it. Consequently, when the first movie about Columban missionaries, “The Cross and the Dragon,” was produced at the end of 1934, it contained Bing Crosby’s first ever public rendition of Silent Night and Adeste Fidelis. Then another proposal surfaced: to cut records with these Christmas hymns, which Fr. Dick would sell to the audience at the end of the movie, and use the proceeds for Columban mission. Once again, Bing Crosby was supportive of the proposal, and in the months that followed these records became popular among audiences of parish halls in small towns as well as in big cities. Soon, local radio stations and record stores became interested in this new phenomenon, which led the record company, Decca, to make a commercial recording of Bing Crosby singing these Christmas hymns. A few years later, at the age of forty-eight, Fr. Ranaghan died tragically in a traffic accident while doing mission promotion. Shortly before his death he wrote: “My picture taking has been an amateur sideline. I have had to build my scenario around what I had.” He had keenly felt the constraints that came from a lack of technical expertise, a shoestring budget, and the large geographical distances within the Columban missionary world. However, his colleagues and those who knew him recognized none of these limitations, but rather saw in Fr. Ranaghan an enthusiasm and commitment that inspired the Chinese people, U.S. parish hall audiences, and Bing Crosby to collaborate generously with Columban missionary endeavors. Today, over eighty years later, “The Cross and the Dragon” – with Silent Night in the background – still conveys Fr. Ranaghan’s missionary zeal. The Columban Missionaries WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG


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The Christmas Season Is Upon Us Once Again! A Non-Stop Celebration By Fr. Donald Kill


olumban Fr. Donald Kill writes about the celebration of the Christmas season at the “Balay San Columbano” home in the Philippines. This home was founded by Fr. Donald to give the children of alcoholics and drug addicts better opportunities in life.

Christmas Begins Anytime After September Here in the Philippines the Christmas season begins any time after September. One store followed by another will begin to display Christmas decorations. I saw one house already displaying their Christmas lights in late September. In the prison where I work with those suffering from alcohol or drug 4

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addiction, the prisoners are busy making lanterns and stars. They will sell these to earn a meager income for themselves and their families during the Christmas season. The radio stations begin to play a few Christmas songs every day. The yearning for the Christmas celebration builds day by day.

All Saints on November 1: Gathering at the Graves You might ask, “Why start so early?” Here, Christmas is more than just the celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25. It is a celebration of family, of life, even new life after death. The celebration begins in earnest on the Feast of All Saints on November 1. Families travel from afar

to visit the graves of their loved ones. They travel by air, land and sea to join together as family and remember their loved ones.

December 16: The Christmas Novena Begins Here in the Philippines, the real heart of the Christmas season begins on December 16 with the early dawn Christmas Novena for the nine days leading up to Christmas. Each morning we get up at about 3:30 a.m. to prepare for the Mass and walk over to the chapel which is about a half a mile away. It is our custom in our village that I awaken the faithful with appropriate Christmas music from 3:30 until 3:45. This allows those who do not join in the celebration of the WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

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Mass to go back to sleep before getting up to go to work. Each morning the Church is overflowing with the faithful, many of whom must go to work at 7:30 or 8:00 am. On Saturdays and Sundays there are at least twice as many worshipers in attendance than our Chapel can hold. Each morning I invite the little children to come up and sit around the altar not only to make more room for adults to sit in the pews and chairs, but also so that they will feel that they are an important part of the spiritual celebration of Christmas.

Each year a group presents a Christmas pageant. It is not a long, drawn out presentation but something to clearly remind everyone why we are together and why we celebrate.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

The Yearning Builds Day by Day

Christmas Eve finds us in the Chapel. Each year a group presents a Christmas pageant. It is not a long, drawn out presentation but something to clearly remind everyone why we are together and why we celebrate. Also before the Mass, Christmas carols are sung and usually led by those who have had plenty of practice going around the village and the city caroling to collect funds to help with expenses. After the Pageant, the Mass, and the carols all go home to celebrate “Noche Buena” or “Blessed Night” dinner. For most folks here this is a rather simple meal. For others, their homes and tables are open to all who come to share in the joy and bounty of the Blessed Night. Many of the families of the students who lived at Balay San Columbano, come to join us for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It is always a wonder that we find enough room for everyone to sleep.

Christmas morning we celebrate again the birth of Our Savior with Mass. After the Mass I distribute small gifts to the children who have faithfully attended the Novena of Masses before Christmas. The smiles on the faces of the young children are worth more to me than any Christmas present. Our Christmas season does not end on Christmas Day. The Sunday after Christmas is the Feast of the Holy Family. Most parishes also celebrate with an invitation to the “parish family” to gather at the Church to celebrate being one family in Jesus. The arrival of the New Year is celebrated, once again, with a Mass that is usually held right after the dinner hour. This allows for the Mass to be completed before the fireworks begin to explode all around. Even after living here for 42 years, I am not yet sure what the fireworks are all



about. I don’t know whether they are to chase away the devils of the past years difficulties and problems, or whether they are meant to celebrate the blessing of another year of life that is filled with promise and hope. One thing I know for sure, God has sustained us through the old year; He will carry us through the new.

Feast of the Holy Child: Santo Niño The Christmas season closes with the Celebration of the Feast of the Holy Child, “Santo Niño.” This feast is a major feast down here in the southern Philippines and celebrated with great devotion. It was first celebrated in Cebu during the time of the Spanish reign over the people. There was a plague that was killing people and spreading all over. While digging in the rubble of an older section of the town, workers discovered an image of the child Jesus. It was carried around the town and people were cured of their illness. We could use some of that healing in our troubled world today. Let us join in praying that Our Savior’s Peace will come to all parts of our world. The children from the Balay San Columbano home and I pray especially that your lives will be filled with Peace and Love and that God may answer your prayers in a way that will help you most. Have a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year. CM Columban Fr. Donald Kill has been a missionary in the Philippines since 1972.

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A Place to Be Still Finding the Waiting God By Fr. Donald Kill


here is something about life on an island. The past number of years I’ve been blessed to spend three weeks on an island called Negros Oriental. Every year after the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I pack up my bag and my books and head out. It is not an easy journey. It is just over a three hour journey to the place where I catch the ferry. Boarding the ferry, I stand on the back of the rocking vessel as it slices through whitecaps and salt-tinged air and watch as the coast of northern Mindanao fades away. It is always a bit startling to find myself in the middle of the ocean, as the land fades into the distance. From horizon to horizon is now only water. 


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Then slowly, after about four hours or so, a small tip of land emerges in the midst of a vast blue pool. It is still an hour to the dock, but the buzz on the boat builds as we get closer and closer to the dock. Upon arrival at the port the ferry maneuvers itself up to the dock and we land lubbers then jockey to get down to our vehicles and off of the ferry. When I finally feel the tires touch land again I know the sweet knowledge that, at least for awhile, I’ve left, gone, departed, exited, vamoosed, left home and work behind.  There are no quick jaunts over a bridge to get back.  No quick turnaround.  It took awhile to get here. I’ll stay now for quite a while. For the next three weeks, days and nights, my

world is contained in a small white house in a small development, set off from the main road, with the road/ path to the beach right out front. A special place where my cell phone doesn’t always have a signal, or better yet, I turn it off. I do not subscribe to the newspaper. It is a place where there is television, but only if I want it and no landline phone.  The sea breeze can cool down even the hottest of afternoons. My assortment of books awaits me. Days are filled with rides to the beach and walks along it, sporting my cane, and browsing the wonders God has sent up from the depths of the sea: shells of myriad dimensions, beautifully ground shards of broken glass, limbs of trees dried and twisted WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

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It is then that I actually encounter God and the stillness necessary to remember our connection to this big place called Creation. during their journey. Evenings mean dinner off the grill or a pizza brought in. Later there’s time for raucous board games with friends and family around a far too small dining room table.  There is no set time to go to bed or to wake up either.        I am away. That is what I love most about island life: being really, truly, fully, away. All humans desperately need these “away” times: regular and consistent “white space” to sleep and to pray, to sit and to be silent, to listen and spend time with loved ones, to finally just rest and just be. My away escape is an island. What is

yours? Is it a lonely cabin in lush green mountains, a tent by the seashore, a hotel room downtown, or a hammock in the back yard?  Place matters less than space: whatever we do or where ever we go away, we just need to give our brains and bodies and spirits a break. It is as if we who live a very busy life, even in our retirement, finally wake up to this spiritual truth. Remember we all just need to chill out, wind down and so we go away. We must go. I love to lie on the beach and gaze up into a jet black night sky with twinkling stars, or watch with some of

the kids on a blanket as the sun goes down, or do whatever it is we must do to relax. It is then that I actually encounter God and the stillness necessary to remember our connection to this big place called Creation.  “Be still,” the universe whispers, “Just for awhile.”    There is something about life on an island. As the time once again grows near for celebrating the New Life that Jesus came to give us, I pray that all of us may find our islands, quiet centers in the midst of our far too often crazy lives. Get away. You’ve still got time. There, God may be waiting for you, just as God waits for me. CM Father Don Kill was ordained as a Columban missionary priest on June 24, 1972. He was assigned to the Philippines and has labored there since September 29, 1972.

THE PRESENCE OF GOD There are times when God is near to us and helps us through the day No matter what the obstacles, the worries, the cares on top of us We bare the marks of his great Cross Triumphantly all the way. If ever it is our lot to know success that leads you on But all the triumphant flattery, the laughs, the cheers and the vain popularity



When we have forgotten ourselves in the vulgarity There is nothing to follow on. There is a humble tone in life when we find ourselves approved It leads us where no one knows, giving us, strengthening us in love untold Announcing above the clamor of the world The banner of Jesus Christ unfurled. Columban Fr. Maurice Foley lives in Ireland.

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Christmas by the Bay All Hearts Need Christmas By Fr. John Burger


he snow outside is tapering off. There is a Christmas concert on public television. Surely it is time for me to reflect as Christmas approaches. This December finds me having turned 70, continuing my priestly and missionary life at St. Columban’s, Bristol, Rhode Island. I have been here since 2013 trying to make myself useful. I am now the priest in charge here. That really means helping with the practical and personal issues that come up. And a lot of them come up in a retirement home!  Mainly, I devote my energy to helping to keep this a happy house for retired Columban priests. Of course, many of the priests in the community are here because they are dealing with declining health and the many challenges that brings. As has become the custom, we have a real tree in the dining room and an artificial one in the common room upstairs. For the last couple of years the trees have been decorated by high school students from the area. They bring a lot of energy with them.


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Both teams had beautiful ornaments to work with. The lady who runs the yard sale at the annual bazaar, Rosemary Silva, received a donation of many unique and expensive ornaments. Since some of the ornaments we had were looking pretty worn, it was a timely gift. Last year the boys went upstairs to do the common room’s silver and blue themed tree, and the girls took on the red and gold dining room tree. That tree has an oriental theme, appropriate for a house where so many of us have lived on the other side of the Pacific. Without anything really being said, a bit of competition got going. Of course, the girls thought their tree would naturally benefit from their superior artistic sensibility. So I think everyone was surprised by the great job the guys did, though I understand they had some coaching. We’ll see who wins this year, although a few of the key girls have left for college. Of course, the trees are not the center of our celebration. We shop for a variety of sizes and colors of poinsettias for the chapel. And in the

midst of all that color is the stable: Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the shepherds and kings to remind us that even in a house of old priests, we need to allow our hearts to be tenderized by the Christmas story. CM Columban Fr. John Burger lives and works in Bristol, Rhode Island.


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A Unique Way to Be a Missionary – a Gift from Your IRA The support of Columban benefactors like you have inspired and sustained our missionaries for over 98 years! Sharing in our vision through the ages has made us partners in all we do to build God’s kingdom here on earth. Now, there is a new and unique way for you to “missionary”. If you have the desire to make a gift now and be able to see your generosity at work during your lifetime, perhaps a direct contribution from your Individual Retirement Account is right for you. If you are 70 ½ years old or older, you can take advantage of a convenient way to make a gift to the Columban Fathers and receive tax benefits in return. The law permits you to make a contribution of up to $100,000 from your IRA when it is made directly to a qualifying charity like us. And… …you can do so without having to pay income taxes on the money! Plus, if you have not taken your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) this year, a direct rollover gift from your IRA can satisfy all or part of that requirement. We always recommend that you consult with your own tax professional if you are considering any charitable contribution under this provision or any other. For more information on how the IRA Charitable Rollover Contribution works, please contact our Donor Relations Representative at the toll-free number below or write to:

Columban Fathers P.O. Box 10 St. Columbans, NE 68056-0010 Toll-free: 877-299-1920 Email:


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Mother of Divine Mercy Village A New Opportunity By Fr. George Hogarty

Residents at the village


n the night of December 16, 2011, a sendong or typhoon struck the northern coast of Mindanao, the main southern island of the Philippines. Such was the ferocity of the typhoon that 12,000 families were left homeless while about 1,800 people lost their lives along the coastal areas of Cagayan de Oro. It was the poor who had built their simple homes by the seaside who had suffered the brunt of the typhoon’s destructive force. After the typhoon abated, the homeless were given temporary accommodation in overcrowded and unhygienic shelters. The local government made some initial efforts to offer assistance to the homeless and injured but found itself hampered by bureaucratic disorganization and internal politics that made it impossible to respond adequately to the crisis at hand. Columban Fr. Paul Finlayson, from Napier in New Zealand, recalls that soon after the typhoon struck, the 10

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Village houses

Fr. Paul and a resident

Columban Superior of the Philippine Region, Fr. Pat O’Donohue, wanted to respond to the crisis but the needs of the typhoon’s victims were too much for any one person or group to handle. He says that in general the local Church was slow to respond because it too was affected by the typhoon. Eventually, the different religious orders and missionary congregations working in the affected areas in Northern Mindanao realized that in the face of the generalized state of official governmental and ecclesial paralysis that was prevailing in the typhoon’s aftermath, the best way forward was to join together in a common effort to relieve the suffering of the homeless victims of the sendong which had left thousands of already poor people entirely destitute. Fr. Paul, who was the parish priest of Barra Opol parish near the City of Cagayan de Oro at the time, was asked by Fr. Pat to get involved in the process of finding a solution for

the victims of the 2011 typhoon. In May 2012, the Columbans working in Cagayan de Oro diocese joined with the Sacred Heart Fathers to respond to the most pressing needs of the typhoon victims. Soon after a joint meeting including the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, the religious Sisters of the Poor Servants of Divine Providence, the Marian Fathers, who have a Shrine of Divine Mercy in the diocese, along with the Columbans and Sacred Heart Fathers, was held in Cagayan de Oro. This religious consortium made the decision to join together and begin a project to provide low cost housing for these homeless families. The first step was to buy land. By pooling their financial resources together 7.3 hectares of land were purchased for 22,543,400 pesos (1 million pesos = approximately $21,276 U.S.) near Fr. Paul’s parish of Barra Opol. The next step was to begin construction of the houses WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

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Open air shelter/chapel

that would form what was to become known as Mother of Divine Mercy Village. Fr. Paul recalls that the local government offered to pay 70,000 pesos towards the construction of every house built leaving the religious consortium the task of finding a further 65,000 pesos to complete the construction of each and every house. The task seemed daunting! Eventually, other communities like the Stigmatans and the Religious of the Virgin Mary along with the original organizers of the project as well as other individuals such as Columban Fr. Leo Schumacher in Japan and Fr. Gill Escalante, who is the chaplain to the local Chinese Catholic community, responded generously, and gradually the village consisting of groups of houses constructed with an iron frame and inner bamboo partitions and cement walls began to take shape. Other Columbans in the Philippines took a personal interest in the project and contributed to its construction. Funds raised from donors to the Columbans’ Columban Overseas Aid Fund (COAF) program in Australia and New Zealand provided the money necessary to build the water and drainage systems along with the water tanks and road networks that now make the village a going concern. WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG


Residents of the village

Today a total of 551 houses have been built with more to come. At the beginning of 2016, Fr. Paul decided to hand over the running of his parish in Barra Opol to fellow Columban Fr. Enrique Escobar from Peru and dedicate himself full-time to bringing the housing project to completion. Fr. Paul says that Mother of Divine Mercy is very much a work in progress. While admitting that such things as a new food market and extra drainage and water canals need to be built and installed with a projected cost of approximately $150,000 U.S., Fr. Paul has thrown himself into the task of providing for the spiritual welfare of the new inhabitants of the continually expanding village. He has made the village’s multipurpose center his base, where he is in constant liaison with the program managers, teachers and social welfare workers who are also involved in accompanying Mother of Divine Mercy Village as it continues to grow. He says that as the village grows and more families decide to make it their home, the more need there is for counselling and spiritual guidance. Since many of the new inhabitants have arrived from all over Northern Mindanao and have never known each other previously, building community

is an urgent necessity. In order to promote a sense of community every new arrival is asked to participate in a course on community living and values over nine weeks on Wednesday nights. Even though the village has no designated chapel so far, an open air shelter doubles as a church on Sundays where Fr. Paul and other priests who visit the village on a temporary basis celebrate Mass as well as baptisms and marriages. Fr. Paul who has spent over 30 years as a missionary in the Philippines is finding the challenge of responding holistically to the families whose lives were ravaged by the typhoon a new opportunity to live out his missionary vocation. Not only is he literally building a community from the ground up by helping to organize the construction of the very houses the village’s residents live in, but also he is actively involved in forming a new and vibrant community, spiritually and morally, among people whose lives seemed to be destroyed by the forces of nature. As St. Paul once said in his letter to the Romans (8:28): “God turns everything to our advantage when we love Him.” CM Columban Fr. George Hogarty lives and works in Australia.

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In the Eyes of the Child Finding My Vocation By Erl Dylan J. Tabaco


side from my parish involvement, one of the most memorable experiences that I had in Peru was my ministry in Manuel Duato, a special institution which provides basic education for persons with special needs. The school was founded by Fr. Agustin Garvey and Sr. Elizabeth Doyle in July 16, 1976, whose efforts made a tremendous impact in the lives of the marginalized people of Lima. Recently, Manuel Duato has been supervised by Columban Fr. Edward O’Connell. With the help of the local government Manuel Duato continues to provide integral formation to students with different needs including those who have cognitive challenges, are deaf-mute, are


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physically handicapped or have multiple disabilities. Aside from the teachers, the role of the parents has a significant contribution in the formation of the students. After months of language study and exposure to different Columban ministries I was able to discern what kind of ministry I wanted to do throughout my whole First Missionary Assignment (FMA) program. There was something in Manuel Duato that caught my attention and made me decide to express my willingness to work with persons who have special needs. I started my ministry in March 2015 with two groups—one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The first group I worked with was people who were deaf-mute. Working

with them suited my interest since I had a good background in dealing with hearing-impaired cases. Before I joined the seminary, I worked with the deaf ministry in my home parish for almost seven years. I had a memorable experience with the hearing impaired; being with them was like encountering someone dear to you. I was very eager to work with them and excited to use the sign language that I learned a few years ago. Having introduced myself in front of them, I was surprised because none of them understood my signs except their professor, Ms. Guadalupe Jara, who is also deaf but knows lip-reading. All of a sudden my confidence was completely shaken, and I didn’t know what to do. After all I thought that the sign-language WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

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that I learned was universal. With the assurance of Ms. Lupe, she helped me compose myself. Learning two languages at the same time drove me crazy. Most of the time I had to construct my sentence in Spanish first before translating it to Peruvian sign language. It is part of the whole process in getting in touch with the lives of the people with whom you are called to minister. I would admit that there were difficult times which made me upset with myself. I became impatient and began to push myself too much. As I encountered these challenges I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts. I needed to go through the processes in order to learn. The reassuring presence of a friend who herself is hearingimpaired gave me enough energy to learn and re-learn the signs all over again. I remember when she told me that in learning the language of the deaf, one has to experience deafness for himself. We can only appreciate the world of deafness if we allowed ourselves to be deaf in a sense of being in communion with them. Her years of experience taught her to be in solidarity with her students. At times she had to immerse herself in the level of her own students as if she started from scratch. In doing this she would convey the right message to her students effectively. This was the most challenging part of being a teacher but the most fulfilling experience that we could have. These lines of thought inspired me. She even told me to allow the kids to teach me, and I would be surprised that they can be good teachers. As time passed by, I enjoyed learning new things from the kids. When things started to become mundane, I always reminded myself about what Ms. Lupe said about ministry – that it is not about accomplishing things but rather WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG


learning the value of everything that you do. I entered into their world which made me appreciate the values that they have imparted in me. Their joy is so contagious that it brought life to our classes. I’ve realized that teaching is not only about reading, arithmetic, arts, and writing. Teaching is also inculcating values behind the things that you do. If you know the value of what you are doing then you will really appreciate the time that you spent on it. I learned to establish my value by loving my ministry. Time flew very fast, and I did enjoy every single moment with the students. I was able to establish a deep relationship with them, and through them I was able to find my vocation. The best learning experience that I had with them was to how to stick with the non-negotiables in life such

Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” as love, joy and solidarity. My whole experience with them reflects the three essentials elements of Christian life. I couldn’t imagine a Christian community without love, joy and solidarity. I am forever grateful to the hearing impaired students with whom I ministered. Through them I was able to make myself available to another group at Manuel Duato on Monday afternoons. This is the group of students who have different cases such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities. They called themselves Club de Amigo (Friends Club) because of the belief that friendship is at the heart of every gathering.

Basically, the nature of my ministry with them was more of companionship since they have their own teachers who are psychologists and occupational therapists by profession. Aside from basic learning skills like greeting and introducing themselves to others, they were also taught how to do routine tasks like eating by themselves, cleaning their own utensils and taking care of school property. These have always been the focus of their learning. Most of them are older and bigger than me. Whenever they had occasional meltdowns, it took much effort to calm them down. It would take a significant amount of experience to handle it. I was not prepared for this ministry! Nevertheless, with the help of some volunteers, I learned how to handle certain situations that needed my help. Of all the ministries that I did in my entire seminary life, this was the most challenging yet very fulfilling. Every time I accompanied them in doing manual exercises I also felt that like them, I have my own share of weaknesses, and I also need the help of others. It is in their vulnerability that I saw my share in this limited world where everyone is encouraged to do their part to make this world worth living. When I saw them smiling and laughing, as we were completing our tasks, the joy within me is overflowed. Walking with them made me realize how privileged I was. They taught me so many valuable lessons in life which I will bring with me for a lifetime. I learned to laugh with them even in times where jokes didn’t appeal to me. Their joy was very contagious, and it seems that every day is a celebration of life. No one was bothered by their physical and mental condition. They always had reasons to celebrate and to be thankful for everything they had. I was touched by their simple gestures. My journey with them allowed me December 2016

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to leave my comfort zone. At times I am pre-occupied with my own concerns to the extent of neglecting my social responsibility to others. When problems overwhelm me I tend to forget to appreciate the present moment. Looking at them gave me the impression that they had no idea of what their past and future would be. They lived at the present moment by being grateful for everything that they have. Being in this ministry reminded me to be grateful for what the present moment has to offer. In the span of one year I would say that I was no longer the same person a year before I left the Philippines. There were many good experiences that molded me to become a better person. Two different ministries have

enriched my life and prepared me to be a person for, by and with others. Looking back, my experiences in Manuel Duato helped me appreciate the inner child within us. It is by being a child where we learn the basics in life such as love, joy and solidarity. It is the innocence of the child that really captured my attention. It comes as no surprise that Jesus uses the image of the child in the Gospel several times to remind us to be like them. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I believe that my ministry with these two special groups in Manuel Duato prepared me for something great in the future. I wish I could

spend more time with them but my mission in Peru had to end. Retelling this story magnifies my soul for it is God who sent me there not only to do my mission but also to learn the value of my mission. After all being a missionary is not about accomplishing many things. It is more than this. It is a vocation. When you love what you are doing because the people whom you are ministering with have instilled the value of your ministry, your work becomes a vocation. Therefore I would say that “In the eyes of the child” I found where my vocation is, which is to love and serve the Lord in everything. CM Originally from the Philippines, Erl Dylan Tabaco is a Columban seminarian.

Erl and friends in Peru

Manual Duato students

Native dress in Peru

Fr. Ed O’Connell’s parish


December 2016



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We celebrate the perfect gift… We celebrate the perfect gift of you this year. Your faithfulness to Columban missionary work around the world has made it possible for us to bring hope, love and support to so many who have so little. Together, we have made a difference and we want to let you know that you are a gift to us. We are told that “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.” (James 1:17) This Christmas, as we celebrate the ultimate gift that is Christ, we also consider the transformational gift that He gave each of us through our Baptism. Baptism is the gift of the faithful to each other, and so we celebrate the gift that is you. Thank you for all that you have done, your prayers and your support have truly been a “gift from above.” May God continue to bless you and reward you in the upcoming year and always. For more information about gifts to Columban missionary work, please contact us at 1-877-299-1920. We remain grateful to you and will always remember you in our Masses and prayers. For information regarding membership in our Legacy Society, obtaining our legal title or for a handy booklet on how to prepare a will, contact us at: Columban Fathers P.O. Box 10 St. Columbans, NE 68056 toll free: 877/299-1920 phone: 402/291-1920 fax: 402/291-4984


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People Were Thirsty for God A Missionary for the Andes of Peru By Maria T. P. Johnson


he tall elderly man leaning slightly on his cane, stands out among the people of the Andes. Most Andean folks reach only to his shoulders, and his white and ruddy skin, burned by the cold, contrasts with the coppery skin of the local residents. But other than external appearances he is inserted perfectly in the community. He is almost a legend in the area. Everybody knows Father Pablo, children and adults, and speak to him either in Quechua or Spanish in the parish of Santiago Apostol (St. James Apostle), in the town of Yanaoca where he makes his home. Yanaoca is at 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level. A good paved road will take you there in approximately two hours from Cusco, tourist capital of Peru. But Yanaoca

Village scene


December 2016


is “another world.” It is a town of extremely poor peasants and small farmers. The scenery is very beautiful, yet desolate. But here is where 30 years ago, Columban Fr. Paul Prendergast, a native of New Zealand, decided to begin a new mission. One morning during my visit to Yanaoca, Fr. Paul and I sat in the courtyard, under a weak sun, in an attempt to warm up from the frigid house, and he recounted the story of his missionary experience. In 1966, Fr. Paul, then three years ordained, was sent to the Columban missions in Lima, Peru. He said: “I had no idea if Lima was in the Andes or at the coast, but I knew that most in 1966 were considered Catholics.” Upon arrival in Lima, he studied Spanish for about three months and

then was assigned to the parish of St. Matthew the Apostle where he worked for thirteen years. “People were happy to be Catholic and wanted to know more about their faith. I realized that almost all of our parishioners were not from Lima, they were from the Andes. My parishioners used to invite me to visit their native villages, and once I went with them to a small town in Ayacucho. When people found out that I was a priest, they immediately asked me to say Mass. The news that a priest had arrived spread out very fast and people came from everywhere, far and near asking for Mass, Sacraments, and blessings. I thought, ‘people in Lima need priests, but even more in the Andes.’ Some people had not seen a priest for more than ten years,

Fr. Paul and parishioners


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The local community

and their faith was sustained by their religious traditions. When I returned to Lima, I formed a missionary team with a group of fifteen men and women and for nearly ten years we went every year for two or three weeks to different villages in Ayacucho. People were thirsty for God.” The experience of those short term missions convinced Fr. Paul that the Andes of Peru were a missionary territory. Peruvian governments had neglected the Andean and Amazon regions; and even though Lima, the capital and all the coast of Peru have their good share of poverty, in most of the Andean towns the poverty is combined with isolation and hardly anything has progressed in the last 50 or 100 years depending on the area. After working thirteen years in Lima, and spending a short period in his homeland of New Zealand, Fr. Paul returned to Peru to work in the Andean mountains. The Prelate of Sicuani, Cuzco, Alvaro Quinn from WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG


Canada, invited Fr. Paul to work in his diocese, and Fr. Paul has been working there for the past 30 years. While he had very devoted and generous parishioners in the sixty towns and villages under his care, their chapels, the religious centers of the towns, were falling apart. People fabricate mud bricks for the walls, but they never had enough money to put on the roof. Donations from Columban benefactors started to come in, and each year three or four towns put on the roof their chapels. Now all the towns have one chapel and some up to two chapels in a village. Local municipalities began to help with the floor, furniture, etc. For large structures, Fr. Paul asked Catholic institutions in the U.S. and Germany for help, and he was able to rebuild four large colonial era temples. In Peru, the 1980s and 1990s were violent years dominated by two large terrorist groups: the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru revolutionary

movement. It was a time of great suffering for the whole country but especially for the already oppressed people of the Andes. Fr. Paul spent those years with his people although he was under death threats to leave the area. His voice took on an angry tone remembering those years: “The time of terrorism was terrible, horrible. Nobody could say anything. We were traveling by bus, and you dared not say anything because you did not know if the person by your side was a terrorist or not. Our people survived this time, because they are quite strong. The farming work is very difficult in these regions and makes people stronger physically and spiritually too.” He had strong words for what he called a “true ecological terrorism.” “Today the large foreign companies are doing great damage to the area. A true ecological terrorism. After a few years of mining work in the area, nothing grows. We have gold December 2016

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and copper mines, and the mining companies that have worked here, have left the river dirty, the land itself is not clean, it is poisonous, and the children get sick.” Even though the community had hard times, things have improved much in Yanaoca in the last twenty years. There are paved roads for all the towns and districts of the parish. Goods are no longer carried on horseback but on trucks. A young Columban priest from Korea, Young-In Kim is now the pastor and following in Fr. Paul’s footprints, serves the people with love and generosity. Nevertheless young people are still leaving after finishing high school. They see no future for them there. They do not want to be farmers and live (or survive) on small pieces of land. The nuns that once were their best pastoral support have left the area because of diminishing members


December 2016


in their religious communities. I was wondering myself how long the Columbans would be able to staff the parish, so I asked Fr. Paul what he thought would be the religious future of this area. He was strident in his response: “The church in this area would survive by the laity. There will be no priests or religious who can take care of many parishes. The church needs to be more open to the laity who wants to do something. There are even priests who do not want a layperson to speak in the church or a woman to get near the altar, not even for a reading during Mass. The Church has to change drastically. Our bishop will continue to insist on preparing more lay people for leadership. The church will continue to exist and would thrive into the future wherever the laity is allowed to work.” From the beginning of his missionary life in Lima and continuing

until today, Fr. Paul has worked with the laity empowering them to live their missionary responsibility. Today every village in the parish of Santiago Apostle in Yanaoca has a lay person, male or female, who baptizes, opens the church or chapel on Sundays, and presides over the Sunday service, which includes a reflection on the Mass readings of the day. Each month these community leaders or catechists meet in Yanaoca for a weekend to share about their work and continue an ongoing formation. Fr. Paul certainly has done his part for the future of the church in the Diocese of Sicuani and for the large parish of Santiago Apostol and the people of Yanaoca. CM Maria T.P. Johnson is Director of Hispanic Ministry for the Missionary Society of St. Columban in Omaha, Nebraska.


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Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden

God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. This Christmas and always, may you and your loved ones share in the peace, happiness and love that we discover in the birth of the infant Jesus. In all of time, there has been no greater gift. This Christmas you have a unique gift opportunity to memorialize your loved one and be part of a place where prayer is eternal. For a gift of $150, you can honor or memorialize someone who has been special to you by having a brick engraved with their name and placed in the Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden. The Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden on the grounds of St. Columbans in Bellevue, Nebraska, memorializes the legacy of twenty-four Columban missionaries who gave their lives for our faith. They believed in something more than self and gave their lives in the same fashion. This special and quiet place of reflection honors their sacrifice and speaks to the fullness of resurrection and life everlasting. To place an order for your engraved brick, please contact us at 1-877-299-1920 or visit us online at to fill out an online order form. For more information about our memorial garden and to hear the story of the Columban missionaries who gave so selflessly, please contact us at 1-877-2991920 or email us at We are forever grateful for the part that you play in our shared missionary journey and we gratefully remember you in our Masses and prayers.


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In the Name of the Trinity, I am a Missionary A Messenger of His Love By Luda Egbalic


am not a writer, but I’m writing this reflection for myself and for others hopefully to be enlightened more about the Trinity’s love and God’s desire for each one of us to become a messenger of His love and the Holy Spirit, who is the Giver of Life. I’ve always believed it is the love of the Trinity that had brought me to this beautiful country, South Korea, and compelled me to persevere on mission. I also believe that this mission is not mine. It is God’s mission, and He has blessed me to carry it out with Him. God is always at the forefront, and I follow Him. There would be times when I kept my distance from Him because I felt tired and even tempted to stop. But along the way, I knew God has sent the Holy Spirit to keep me going. For my ministry, I was assigned in Negguk Church, Uijeungbu Diocese, which is outside the district of Seoul. I would say about 75% of the church-goers are the youth and older parishioners. Most often the youth and young professionals or couples are seen whenever they sponsor Masses. But what is really inspiring is having a lot of the elderly who are in their 60s or 70s who–despite complaining about the pain in their backs or knees– are joyfully doing their ministries in 20

December 2016


the church. They are more involved in church activities, because we cannot ask for more time from the youth due to their studies, nor the young adults due to their work. Because of the expensive cost of living, the younger parishioners need to work hard to earn enough to be able to afford their daily needs and maintain their lifestyles which are influenced by fast-changing trends and fashion.

What is it like to be a Columban Lay Missionary in situations like these?

I visit the sick and the elderly in their homes. Most of them live alone, but there are those who are alone only during daytime because their family members are at work or in school. Grandma Ana is one of the women I visit. She is 75 years old and is suffering from pulmonary fibrosis which makes it hard for her to breathe without an oxygen tank. Her son, who is in his 50s and is mentally disturbed, and her granddaughter, who is studying in middle school, both live with her. Grandma Ana doesn’t have other relatives and had no one to help do errands for her. This is why whenever I visit her, she would always express her gratitude. In return, I would always answer, “We are one in God’s family, Grandma.” A few

times I went to the hospital to see her doctor to explain her condition using my limited Korean. The doctor would then give me the prescribed medicines for her. It is a challenging ministry for me, but I believe God works with me all the time. Another patient I visit is Theresa who is undergoing hemodialysis. She is 58 years old and has two sons. The eldest son lives with her. Her son leaves the house very early and arrives home late at night from work. Theresa’s right arm is paralyzed, and she has difficulty standing up as well as walking. She cannot prepare meals by herself. She is dependent on her son who prepares her meals for her. During my visits, I noticed Theresa would eat either bread with milk, noodles, or even nothing for lunch. Oftentimes, I’d bring some food for her. But I sense she is more grateful for my presence than the food I bring. When I’m with her, we would share about our experiences with smiles and tears, watch our favorite television programs and pray together. I help her with a few house errands as well. There is another grandmother I visit who is in her 80s. She lives alone. Her house doesn’t have its own toilet. With her physical condition, I sense her discomforts especially during autumn or winter seasons. She is hard WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG

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of hearing and communication using a phone is impossible. Whenever I asked her about her family, she would just reply, “They’ve all died.” During my first visits, she refused to answer or listen to my queries. Eventually, I gained her trust enough to open up about her family. She still has a daughter who lives in America, but she has not visited South Korea since she left. From her facial expression, I sensed her pain. I was happy when she told me after visiting her, to come again. Since then, I’ve been visiting her regularly.

What is the Holy Trinity’s message for me? God, the Father created the world with human beings as the stewards of His creation. God sent His only Begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus suffered, died and

resurrected for all of humankind. The Holy Trinity are bound together in love. As a lay missionary assigned to South Korea, I believe that I must bind myself in God’s love and be the messenger of the Giver of life to others, Christians or non-Christians, most especially to the elderly and the sick. Jesus Christ has taught me that to be a lay missionary means to love. When I love I have to die to myself. It is not an easy way of life. With my little faith and love, I commit to following God and to be with others especially those who are suffering from emotional poverty. There are times when I wanted to go back to the Philippines, particularly when I got sick and missed my family, my friends and familiar comforts back home. My faith wavered during these low moments. I experienced

God’s love which has brought tears of genuine happiness and striking pains as well which is beyond my human understanding. In my prayer, I heard Him whispering to me His words through the Gospel of St. John, “If you understand these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:17). In facing different circumstances in my life, I cannot fully understand God’s will, yet His love is amazingly powerful and inspiring that it has moved me to continue on this mission whether in happiness or in sadness. This is why I always begin and end my prayers of thanksgiving “In the Name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” CM Luda Egbalic is a Columban lay missionary living and working in South Korea.

Columban lay missionaries Jen (in red) and Luda (in blue) in South Korea WWW.COLUMBAN.ORG


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God depends on you to carry out His plan for the world. Please consider becoming a Columban Mission sponsor today! As a Columban Mission sponsor, you play a vital and important role in bringing Christ to the people of the Pacific Rim, South and Central America. You may not be able to go where our Columban missionaries go, and you may not be able to do what we do, but together we can bring Christ, in word and in sacrament to the people of the world. What Columban missionaries achieve is as much your work as theirs. When you choose to make sustaining gifts as a Columban Mission sponsor, you help secure the future of mission!

What does being a Columban Mission Sponsor involve? Daily Prayer Columban Mission sponsors pray daily for the success of our missionaries. The Gospel is spread through the power of God, not merely by human effort. For mission efforts to be fruitful, they must be accompanied by prayer. Sacrifice Offer whatever crosses, suffering and pain you experience each day for the success of our mission activities. Sacrifice is the inseparable compliment to prayer. A Monthly Offering Columban Mission sponsors give a specific amount that they choose each month for the work of the missions. These sustaining gifts live up to their name by maximizing giving over the long term and provide a secure future for vital programs and ministries.

What are the personal benefits for you? Becoming a Columban Mission sponsor is one way of saying “Thank You, Lord” for all of God’s goodness to you, especially for the gift of Faith. You can be sure that, in return, God will never be outdone in generosity toward you or your loved ones. By helping bring Christ to others, you will find your own faith immensely enriched. To start your monthly giving today, visit us online at: Or, for your convenience, fill out the form below and use the postage-paid envelope in the center of this magazine. _____ I would like to learn more about giving via automatic bank withdrawal. Please call me. _____ I would like to begin my monthly giving by check. Enclosed is my gift of $____________ (We will send a reminder each month unless you direct us otherwise) Name: ____________________________________________________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________________________________________ City: _______________________________________________________________ State: ___ Zip: __________ Phone: ________________________________ Email: ______________________________________________


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God’s Present to Us


ike the majority of Columban missionaries, it is usual for me to spend the Christmas season far from my family. For many years I had dreamt of the joy that I would experience if I could go home just once and join with family members for Mass at our local church, then gather together around the dinner table, and later exchange gifts. In my dreams it was going to be a nostalgic celebration filled with fun and laughter. However, a few years ago when I did have the opportunity to spend Christmas at home, it turned out very differently from my dreams. In late November of that year my mother suffered a major stroke that left her critically ill. I rushed home to say a final goodbye to her. However, during the next few days her condition stabilized, though she remained seriously debilitated. She could not move, speak, eat or drink. She was totally helpless. It was heartbreaking. However, my family was grateful that she seemed

From the Director By Fr. Tim Mulroy to recognize us and understand to some degree what was happening around her. As Christmas approached, my mother’s condition remained the same, so some family members arranged to have her favorite carols played and her hospital room made festive. On Christmas morning I celebrated Mass there with just my mother and my sister, Helen, present. When I gave my mother a tiny part of the sacred host, her face radiated a childlike joy. My sister and I spent


Besides, we were grateful that Jesus had come to be with us that day. the remainder of that day sitting by her bedside, chatting to one another at times, listening to hymns at times, but mostly soaking up the silence. That Christmas Day, seeing my mother severely paralyzed made me feel deeply sad and very helpless. Since I could not fix the situation, I had to accept things as they were. Since I could not busy myself doing this or that, I tried to be truly present to her. However, by simply being together, we became a source of support, comfort and peace for each other. Indeed, I had a profound sense of gratitude that, rather than being thousands of miles apart, we could be together and hold each other’s hand. Besides, we were grateful that Jesus had come to be with us that day. That experience led me to a deeper understanding of Christmas as the celebration of Emmanuel, meaning God-with-us. The Word of God became flesh in order to share firsthand the hopes and struggles, as well as the joys and sorrows of the human family. The Son of God came into our world not to fix our problems, but rather to be by our side as a friend who gives us support, consolation and peace as we face the challenges of life. That Christmas season I came to realize that Jesus’ presence among us is God’s present to us, which we in turn share with others by being present to them.

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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


“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, and revealed them to the little children.” — Matthew 11:25 God makes what appears to us to be unlikely choices. He may even be calling you to mission. We would be happy to discuss it 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… Sister Virginia Mozo National Vocation Director Columban Sisters 2546 Lake Road Silver Creek, NY 14136 626-458-1869 Email: Websites:

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

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Columban Mission Magazine December 2016  

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

Columban Mission Magazine December 2016  

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