The Power of Being Powerless

by Fr G. Chris Saenz

A Chilean Woman

Father Saenz, a frequent contributor to, was ordained in 2000. He is from Omaha, Nebraska, USA, where the Columban headquarters in that country are located. He spent part of his formation period in the Philippines. Here he tells an extraordinary story of welcoming new life.

Three or four years ago I was in Tasmania, Australia, for mission promotion work.  A school girl in St Patrick’s Catholic College of Launceston asked, ‘What is the hardest thing about working with people in poverty?’  The question stumped me a bit and made me think.  Generally, it’s the youth who ask the deep theological questions.  After reflecting for a moment, I answered her, ‘the feeling of being powerless to change the situation of the person in poverty’.

The Cricket in the Box

By Fr Warren Kinne

The author is an Australian Columban who worked in Mindanao in the 1970s. He is now based in Shanghai. He has some Chinese ancestry and during his years in China has come to know relatives there. He wrote this article shortly after the Chinese/Lunar New Year celebration on 8 February 2016.

Chinese Cricket Boxes  

There is a Chinese saying: ‘Huo dao lao, xue dao lao’ which loosely translated is ‘You are never too old to learn’.

A couple of nights ago a dentist friend here in China was driving me home on a cold winter’s night when I heard a chirping noise inside the car. It sounded like crickets but I presumed it was an electronic beep somewhere from the dashboard. At the intersection red light, Doctor Dong reached into his pocket and pulled out a small box, opened it, and there were two chirping crickets in two separate wee compartments.

Lost In Paradise

By Father Nilo R Resco MSP

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Solomon Islands were used as a source of slave laborers to work in the sugar plantations of Fiji and Australia. The archipelago became independent in July 1978. Two years ago Father Nilo was assigned to these beautiful islands. He tells us below about his missionary adventures.

I glance at the wall clock and it’s already 11pm but I don’t feel like sleeping. I open my window, trying to get some fresh air and smell the newly mown grass gleaming in the moonlight. The deep calm of the mission station is disturbed by the occasional howling of wild dogs in the nearby bush and the incessant chirping of crickets. In a few moments a great calm settles over everything. All feels silent. I feel silent within myself too. This setting, surrounded by nature and stillness, has something extraordinary about it. I rise from my rickety bed, go to my writing table where scribbled notes that have been lying unnoticed for days catch my attention, my reflections, written during my first four months in the station. I’m tempted to read them again.

Meanderings of a Catholic Mother

By Mira Vanleeuwen

Mira and Family

I share the same birthday as Mama Mary, 8 September. It is something that I always hold dear in my heart, keeping me grounded in my faith no matter what. It’s been very challenging living here in Australia for about ten years now where most people hardly ever go to church. There is a certain concept here that as long as you're doing good you’re not a bad person. You will be all right and you don’t need God. People here are so open to almost anything, and of course they don’t mind things like same-sex marriage, something that greatly challenges my own principles and beliefs.

Columban Fr Patrick McInerney Meets the Pope

By Fr Patrick McInerney

Meeting storekeeper in Jerusalem helped Fr McInerney reflect on where he was really from and meeting Pope Francis helped him reflect on where the center of the Church is.

When Cardinal Tauran presented the newly-elected Pope to the world from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica on the night of Wednesday, 13 March 2013 Pope Francis explained his origins as follows: ‘You know that the work of the conclave is to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as if my brother cardinals went to find him from the end of the earth.’

Tears and Light in Juarez

By Fr Kevin Mullins

The author is a Columban from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, who has worked in Chile and in Britain. For the past fifteen years he has been in Corpus Christi Parish, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, USA. The parish, along with a presence in El Paso, is part of the Columban Border Ministries of the Region of the United States.

A news report on 7 News, Australia, 2012

Some time ago drug-cartel soldiers visited a house near our parish church. The man of the house was a small-time drug-seller and user. Reportedly he had not paid up on time. The cartel soldiers forced him and his three-year-old daughter to watch as they slit his wife’s throat. Then the child watched as they shot half her father’s face away and left him for dead. The little girl lay for nine hours on the legs of her dead parents and then, in the morning, went outside to let neighbors know that something was wrong.

The violence of the drug cartels in our city is endemic but, for the cartels, it is a means to an end. They prefer their business to be free of violence and so use bribes to encourage collaboration from politicians, police chiefs, state governors, mayors, etc. These are often offered a choice: plata (money) or plomo (lead ie, a bullet).

The way we were – home to roost

Father Patrick Claver Hickey   20 April 1930 - 1 August 2013

Fr Patrick Hickey died in Australia on 1 August 2013. This article, which shows a lighter though very practical side of missionary life, first appeared in The Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Australia and New Zealand, in October 1967 and was posted on the website of the Columbans there in 2009.

The pullet arrived, a gift from a family in the parish. Having no chicken coop, I adopted the practice, followed locally with fighting cocks, of tying one end of a piece of string to the bird and the other to a stake in the ground. At night she was locked in the shed.

After two days of this, our pullet learned where home was and we turned her loose. Each afternoon she returned, promptly at five, stopping by the door of the presbytery for a few minutes until she was noticed, then waiting in the shed for her supper.

She began to lay. We followed her activities with interest and were distressed to notice that, with seven eggs in the nest, she became ill.

We are early risers in the Philippines. The local radio has a programme from 5am to 5.30am sponsored by the producers of a certain brand of poultry medicine. Why not? It could do no harm. We tried it. Two doses were enough: she struggled to her feet and got on with the job.

The moment we have been waiting for

by Fr Dan Harding

The author is an Australian Columban who worked in Chile for many years. He is now editor of The Far East, the Columban magazine in Australia and New Zealand.

On 4 June 1770 Captain Cook sailed into a passage through the Great Barrier Reef that was surrounded by beautiful continental islands. He was on his historic voyage of discovery up the east coast of Australia. These islands and the sea passage were named the Whitsunday Islands and Passage after the liturgical celebration of the day, Whitsunday (also known as ‘Whitsunday’ or ‘Whitsun’). Actually Cook had miscalculated his date and it was really the following day, Whit Monday.

Hill Inlet, Whitsunday Islanda the largest of the Whitsunday Islands

What is this liturgical celebration called Whitsunday? It is another name for the second most important day after Easter in the Church’s liturgical calendar - the great Solemnity of Pentecost. The name Whitsunday comes from White Sunday when in Medieval times, those who had been baptized seven weeks earlier at Easter donned again their white baptismal robes. Some baptisms also took place at this time.

Couples For Christ National Conference At Port Talbot, Wales

By Rev Dr Gareth Leyshon and Sean Haran

Rev Dr Gareth Leyshon is a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff. Sean Haran is a social worker and is married to Mabel Bercero from San Remigio, Cebu. They have two daughters, Therese Maria (5) and Isabel Bernadette (3). Their third child is due in January.

History was made in Port Talbot on 5 May this year, with an event unique in the history of the Catholic Church in Wales. The 6th Annual Conference of Couples for Christ in the UK (CFC-UK) came to the Principality for the first time, hosted by members of CFC-Wales from Swansea, Port Talbot and Bridgend.

Bishop Burns of Menevia presides at opening Mass

It is impossible to find a single phrase which summarises this annual get-together. Prayerful celebration? Worship event? Eurovision Song Contest? Food festival? Eisteddfod? [Editor’s note: The Eisteddfod is Wales’s annual cultural festival. Similar festivals are held by people of Welsh origin in other parts of the world]. Gathering of an extended family? All of them apply, but none on its own does justice.

A Path to Life

By Fr Peter Woodruff

Fr Noel O’Neill was ordained in Ireland in December 1956 and has been working in Korea since 1957. Fr Peter Woodruff is an Australia Columban who worked in Peru for many years. Ordained in 1967, he is now based in Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne, at the headquarters of the Columbans in Australia and New Zealand.

Columban Fr Noel O’Neill Columban Fr Noel O’Neill, spoke to the staff of our mission office in Essendon, Melbourne, Australia, about his experience with intellectually disabled people in Korea. Father Noel arrived in Korea in 1957, not long after the Korean War ended in 1953. The whole country had been devastated by war and was still in the throes of reconstruction. Like most Columbans at that time in Korea, Father Noel began his mission work building up and running parishes; this was his mission for 24 years.

He was working in Kwangju when he began to go to the Mudeung Institution which gave support to needy and marginalised people. He soon saw that the intellectually disabled were not able to fend for themselves so he began to sit and chat with them. They were definitely the forgotten ones of Korea in those days. Many would have been left to die at birth and those who survived would be kept hidden by their families, who were embarrassed by their very existence.