Living My Dream

By Febie M. Gonzales

Febie is from Alamada, Cotabato, and graduated with a BS in Accounting and Financial Management from Notre Dame University, Cotabato City. She is currently studying Mandarin Chinese full-time in Hsinchu City, Taiwan, and discerning a placement for ministry to start in July.

Febie with Judy Chu, her Mandarin teacher<

It all started with a dream. I came to Taiwan in June 2016 for my three-year term as a Columban Lay Missionary. This was my first experience of cross-cultural living. I was so excited. At the beginning life was great. Then I began to study Mandarin Chinese. My class was on a one-to-one basis two hours daily. My program of study was divided into four parts: listening, speaking, character reading and writing. As I write, I am in the listening and speaking parts.

Tales of Columban Courage and Martyrs

On St Columban’s Day, 23 November 2017, we will begin the Centennial Year of the Missionary Society of St Columban that was formally established in Ireland on 29 June 1918, the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul. The Centennial Year will end on St Columban’s Day 2018. Below we have two stories of Columban martyrs, one in China and three in Korea. These first appeared in Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Ireland and Britain. And are slightly edited here. We will continue these Tales of Columban Courage and Martyrs in subsequent issues..

Fr Timothy Leonard, the First Columban Martyr
‘He did not work for Christ: he slaved for him’

By Fr Cyril Lovett

Fr Timothy Leonard (1893 – 1929) [Source]

Fr Cyril Lovett, from Ireland, is one of three brothers who became Columban priests. He worked for many years in the Philippines and then in Brazil and was, until recently, editor of Far East. Fr Brendan teaches at the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies (IFRS), Quezon City. Fr Aidan served in Mindanao, Malate Parish and Manila doctors Hospital. He died in 1999.

On Tuesday 24 July 1929, a telegram brought sad and unexpected news from China. Fr Timothy Leonard had been murdered by bandits in the Province of Kiangsi on 17 July 1929. He became the first of many Columbans to suffer a violent death while serving their people on mission.

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.

In the footsteps of Columban Missionaries in China

Bishop Edward J. Galvin
19 September 1952 at convent of the Columban Sisters, Hong Kong

Bishop Galvin, Co-founder of the Columbans and first Bishop of Hanyang had just been expelled from the People’s Republic of China

This article first appeared in Sunday Examiner, the English-language weekly of the Diocese of Hong Kong edited by Australian Columban Fr James Mulroney.

HONG KONG (SE): In the manner in which St Columban proclaimed himself an exile for Christ when he left his native Ireland for Europe over 1,400 years ago, a group of Chinese priests, sisters and lay people from Wuhan carried a banner reading ‘Exiles for Christ’ as they traveled in pilgrimage along the Han River from Hanyang between 11 and 14 November 2015 in the footsteps of the Columban missionaries of the 1920s.

A Tale of Two Communities

By Fr Cireneo Matulac

One of the communities in China visited by Fr Matulac

The author is from Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, in southwest Mindanao. While a seminarian he spent two years on First Mission Assignment in Chile. After his ordination he went on mission to China. He is now Vice-Rector at the Columban House of Studies in Cubao, Quezon City. He has contributed a number of articles to over the years.

Recently I visited some small Catholic communities in the north of China. I visited one particular community, with little more than ten families gathered together, with the Parish Priest. He asked me to give a short talk to the congregation while he was hearing confessions. I thought I would say something on reconciliation and forgiveness. I introduced myself as a missionary priest from the Philippines, a member of the Missionary Society of St Columban.

Not just the death of a person but of a history

SHANGHAI (SE): Monica was buried in the final days of December last year. A few more months of life would have seen her live for 100 years on this earth.

Video featuring Bishop Galvin

Known by her Christian friends as Monica, Xia Jingxian had belonged to the Handmaids of Our Lady, a diocesan group of religious sisters set up in Hanyang by Bishop Edward Galvin in the 1930s.

However, in the face of the advancing Communist army the Irish bishop disbanded the group for the safety of its members and to give them an opportunity to make a new life in what was to prove a hostile environment.

Monica was a nurse and she arrived in Shanghai as a young woman at a time when the Japanese Imperial Army was menacing the population.

Discovering the Different Faces of Jesus

By Richelle H. Verdeprado

As he recalled his missionary story, Peter Dong or Lee Chon, a 32-year-old Columban seminarian, journeyed back to Jilin province, in the central part of northeastern China. Reminiscing about his hometown and childhood he recalled how his family has always been with him. He told how he would travel 20 kilometers with his parents and brother on bicycles on Sundays to attend Mass. Consequently, talking with him gave me an idea of how it is to live in a village where your family was the only Catholic one and you have to close your windows and doors when you pray. It made me realize then how God can still continue working in our lives despite all the barriers the world can build. It made me realize that faith can still grow beautifully amidst unfavorable circumstances.

The author and Peter after their interview.

After finishing middle school, Peter started thinking about the path he would be taking. He wasn’t physically strong, thus, he could not just take any course. His father opened to him the idea of entering the seminary. Instantly, his mind remembered their place which had a chapel it but had no priest. Though he knew very little about what it is to be a priest, he had just no objection. He didn’t know where such a desire to try was coming from. He just found himself one day with his 21 classmates, preparing themselves to become diocesan priests.

Opening of First Contemplative Monastery in China since 1949

The following press release was published in May and has been slightly edited. Columban Fr Eamonn O’Brien, Director of Cultural Exchange with China (CEC) is from Ireland and spent his early years as a priest in the Philippines.

On 1 May the feast of St Joseph the Worker, the monastery of St Augustine was opened in Lintou, in the Shan Xi Province of China. This is the first contemplative monastery to be opened in China since1949.The monastery and associated nursing home will be known as St Augustine's Garden.

Across Cultural Boundaries
By John Wang Zongshe

John and Joseph Li Jiangan are the first seminarians from China to join the Columbans. After a year studying English in Manila they have just begun their spiritual formation year in Cubao, Quezon City. They told their vocation stories in our May-June issue.

John Wang on a carabao

‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Matthew 28:19-20, RSV CE). Inspired by this passage, missionaries have been trying to evangelize people in foreign countries. Through two thousand years of effort, people in most countries have heard about Jesus and some have believed in Him.

A Church With Room For All

By Joseph Li Jiangang

My village of 800 residents is one hundred percent Catholic. It is in Shaanxi Province, 16 hours by train southwest of Beijing. My Christian name was chosen by our parish priest when he baptized me. As a young boy I always went to church with my grandmother even though I did not really like to. I preferred to be playing with my friends. On one occasion, during my primary school years, I went to see an open-air movie at Mass time.

The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary worked in our village and ran a medical clinic. In junior high school, one Sister got us together for religious education during our summer holidays, and at the age of eleven I began to know more about God. I was born after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) so much religious practice had ceased. I used to sit at the back of the church when I went alone, but when I joined the youth group we would sit at the front. As a youth I went of my own free will to church.