Fr Barry Cairns

An Easter Experience: Parable of the loving father and his two sons revisited

By Fr Barry Cairns

The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. The Easter season, which ends this year on 4 June, Pentecost Sunday, reminds us that from death comes life. An encounter with the Risen Christ can bring peace, forgiveness and reconciliation out of situations of animosity, division and the inability to forgive. Columban Fr Barry Cairns from New Zealand shares an Easter story of his parish pastoral council reaching out to forgive. He has been a Columban missionary priest in Japan since 1956.

Fifty years ago I was pastor of an 'old Christian' community in Sakita, Shimoshima, the largest of the Amakusa Islands in the far south of Japan. By 'old Christian' I mean that a Jesuit missionary, Fr Luis Almeida, founded the parish 451 years ago in 1566. Then the Tokugawa daimyo government expelled or executed all missionaries. The Amakusa community went into hiding, remaining faithful for 240 years.

A Present-day Good Samaritan

by Fr Barry Cairns

The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), Van Gogh
May 1890, Saint-Rémy.

Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands [Web Gallery of Art]

One of my recent side jobs was to teach for a term as a substitute lecturer at a junior college in Yokohama. There were 30 students in the class. Many were destined to be social workers in Christian-run homes for children with disabilities, retirement homes and hospices. Not one of the students was a Christian. For this reason, the dean of the College asked me to give a ten-week course entitled simply, ‘Christianity.’ At my request each student was to have a copy of the New Testament and a copy of Shūsaku Endō‘s Life of Jesus. (Both in Japanese as were the lectures.)

Reflection - Suicides in Japan and God's gentleness

By Fr Barry Cairns

Fr Barry Cairns from New Zealand has been a Columban missionary in Japan since 1956.  He offers us this reflection, written from the heart, on the tragedy of suicide and the closeness and gentleness of God.

I have just come from a very emotional funeral of a young girl of 18 who committed suicide. I write this after sharing with the distraught parents and realize that I too need to share with someone.

Good Friday: Stations Of The Cross

By Fr Barry Cairns

Fr Barry Cairns, from New Zealand, was ordained in 1955 first went to Japan in 1956 and is still there. He has contributed many articles over the years to Columban magazines.

The Stations of the Cross are a traditional Lenten prayer. The Presbyterian scripture scholar, Rev. William Barclay, helped me with the Stations. On TV he said, ‘We Protestants tend to pass over the Roman Catholic usage of Veronica and the three falls on the way to Calvary, because they are not in the Bible. But these scenes come from an ancient tradition, so let us treat them as we treat Bible scenes; namely, we ask ourselves: ‘What message does this scene have for me today?'

The Infant Jesus Finds A Home

By Fr Barry Cairns MSSC

Have you ever attended the solemn opening of a Catholic Church? It’s quite an impressive ceremony. We at St. Joseph’s Church in Katase, Japan had almost the same grandeur for the opening of our stable – that is, our Christmas crib. Building this Nativity scene was very much a community effort.