Music Eases My Journey

By Vasemaca Ratu

Vasemaca Ratu is a Columban Lay Missionary from Fiji who came to the Philippines in December 2015. After language studies she was assigned to Barra sub-parish, Opol, Misamis Oriental doing catechesis with the children. She is also involved with the women’s ministry (livelihood), Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC), and with the youth ministry. Now, she is working with the Diocesan Deaf Ministry of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

Learning a new language is really difficult. One has to become a child again. It is entering a new culture that you were not born into. The question most people ask is: WHY LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE?

During my six months language studies, I really struggled to learn Cebuano. My brain was suffocated with new words, grammar, etc., every day. Sometimes I felt like quitting but I realized only losers quit. My body had to adjust also to the change of climate, culture and language. Thinking I had a goal to achieve I did SELF-CARE in order to continue my journey.

What the Children at the Kuya Center Taught Me

By Kusitino Saro

Kusitino is a Columban seminarian from Suva, Fiji who joined the Columban formation program here in the Philippines in 2016. He is studying Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas and conducts pastoral ministry at the Kuya Center in Cubao, Quezon City.

Over the years, the Columban mission has influenced and inspired many people across the world, especially in regions that they are called to serve in. Like many others that have gone before me, I was also fortunate enough to have crossed paths with some of them. The first impression I received during my first encounter with them stayed with me until I decided to join. This was one of the important decisions I made that somehow would determine the later course of my life’s journey.

The Ladies who are called Maria

By Marjorie Engcoy

The author is from Ozamiz City. She has been in Fiji as a Columban Lay Missionary since 2012. She is currently the editor of Kaulotu, a Columban magazine circulated in Fiji.

Marj (center) in Fiji with Nau Merelita, mother of Lanieta and Sainiana Tamatawale (Columban lay missionaries), and their cousin, Penina

In my new parish assignment, I am blessed to have met wonderful ladies who are named after our Blessed Mother. And I would like to share my experience with them.

My Indian Fathers in Fiji

By Fr Kurt Zion Pala

Father Kurt was ordained in his native Iligan City, Mindanao on 21 November 2015. After his ordination he spent some months in Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila, before moving to the Columban house in Cagayan de Oro City where he has been involved in vocation work, mission promotion and fundraising. He will be leaving for his new assignment in Myanmar early this year.

Father Kurt, center, with Abba Sam Daniel and Reverend Roneel Avinay

‘“Abba”, call me that,’ my host father responded when I asked him how I should call him. ‘Abba’ is the Hindi (Indian) word for ‘father’. Sam Daniel would be my third host-father in Fiji. He is Anglican and lives with his wife near their church. They have a son, Roneel, who is now an Anglican priest. Abba works as the school manager of the Anglican Church-run schools in Labasa. He would wake up to feed the chickens. After breakfast he would drive me to the Catholic church for my Hindi lessons and he would report to school. In the afternoon, we would then meet at a small shop near the school and have small talk with his friends. In the evening some of the neighbors would come over and we would have a game of cards and enjoy a big bowl of kava.



The three members of Fiji/Tonga Team 11 of the Columban lay Missionaries arrived in the Philippines on 28 December 2015 and flew two days later to Cagayan de Oro where they celebrated the New Year of 2016. On 4 January they began a six-month course in the Cebuano language at the Maryknoll Institute of Language and Culture, Davao City. They are now assigned in Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental, where their Columban companions are Fr Paul Finlayson from New Zealand and two Peruvians, Fr Enrique Escobar and lay missionary Ana Belma Flores. Haiti and Liliani are from Tonga while Vasemaca is from Fiji. The Columbans have been in Fiji since 1952. Despite the fact that we have never worked in Tonga we now have both priests and lay missionaries from that island nation.

The three joined the Columban Lay Missionaries Accompaniment Program in 2014 and the nine-month Orientation Program last year. The latter included the first quarter (three months) of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

My Art Contribution for the Lay Mission Auction

By Cynthia Empleo

The author, from Bicol, worked as a Columban Lay Missionary in Fiji from 2000 until 2003. She is now the Administrative Assistant in the Mission Office at St Columban’s, Singalong Street, Manila.

It all started during the Advent retreat in 2015 for returned Columban Lay Missionaries (CLMs) living in Luzon. It was held at Little Flower Retreat House in Baguio. Columban Fr Finbar Maxwell, our retreat director, asked us to draw or just do any art thing to represent the reflections and emotions we were having during the retreat. I scribbled with the provided drawing paper and pastel colors. Over the course of two days I finished seven drawings.

Learning Languages, Bridging Cultures


By Lanieta Tamatawale

Lanieta Tamatawale is a Columban Lay Missionary (CLM) from Fiji who came to the Philippines in 2003 as a member of a team from Fiji and Tonga. After six years here Lani was assigned back to Fiji for four years as CLM Coordinator. Since 1 Jan 2015 she has been working in Hong Kong as a member of the Lay Missionary Central Leadership Team.

The author in Hong Kong

I first came to the Philippines in 2003. I was shocked by the many people I saw in Manila and by the bumper-to-bumper traffic. Jeepneys and tricycles were new to my two companions and me.  They amused us and it took time for us to get use to riding them.

A Killer Cyclone

by Fr Frank Hoare

A wrecked house in Natanuku

Columban Fr Frank Hoare, based in Fiji, first went there in 1973. He is from Ireland.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston

In mid-February this year Tropical Cyclone Winston passed fairly close to Fiji on an eastward path towards Tonga. It missed the large islands but did damage to some of the smaller Lau islands. It damaged one of the big islands in the Tonga group and then made a sharp U turn picking up force from the heat of the ocean below as it reversed its path towards Fiji. The government issued warnings to everyone to prepare for the cyclone by nailing wooden shields over windows, by tying down roofs with wire, by storing up food and water and candles and by buying batteries for radios and flashlights. Evacuation centers in schools and halls were prepared.

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.

Cheerful Givers

Cheerful Givers

Woman Ironing, Edgar Degas, c.1869 Neue Pinakothek, Munich, Germany [Wikipedia]

‘Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’, St Paul tells us (2 Corinthians 9:7). God reveals himself through ‘cheerful givers’, who can be found on opposite sides of the world.

Cynthia Empleo of our Mission Office in Manila tells us the story of the long involvement of Mrs Leonor A. Tomines, now 93, with the Columbans, for many years as a laundry woman like the woman in the painting by Degas above, and for many more years as a benefactor.

On the other side of the world, in Ireland, Columban Sr Mary Nolan tells us the story of Kathleen Hogan, who grew up in difficult circumstances and was a great supporter of the Columban Sisters. Kathleen has now gone to her reward. Whenever we meet persons such as Leonor A. Tomines and Kathleen Hogan we can say with Sister Mary, ‘I had the privilege of coming to know the greatness of one of God’s little ones.’