A Pineapple, A Junk And A Spitfire

by Fr Seán Coyle

Father Sean CoyleThe first book I ever read, when I was 7, was Treasure Island. A map guided Jim Hawkins and his friends to the hidden treasure. God drew a map with clues that guided me to discover the treasure of my vocation during my teenage years.

The first clue was Sister Gemma in my second year in kindergarten. She spoke about the need to support missionaries and asked us to speak to our parents. My classmates brought in the equivalent of a peso but mine gave me the equivalent of five, a lot of money for them as my father worked as a carpenter on a construction site. Sister Gemma gave me a little calendar with a picture of St Thérèse of Lisieux, Patroness of Missionaries. I didn’t know at the time that the saint would influence me greatly years after my ordination, even though I still don’t like the name she gave herself, “the Little Flower.”

Funeral Of Fr John Doohan

By Fr Donal O’Dea

As I sat in the parish church of Dancalan, Ilog, Negros Occidental, I felt sleepy. A 5.30am flight from Manila to Bacolod and a three-hour drive to be on time had their effect. The fact that the Mass was in Ilonggo, which I didn’t understand, caused my mind to ponder on the occasion and to wander back to the day John Doohan had left The Hand, in Kilmurry Ibrickan parish, Mullagh, County Clare, to go to the seminary to become a Columban missionary. Today, 69 years later, we were celebrating his funeral Mass - two bishops, many priests, religious sisters and brothers and an overflowing congregation. It was a long journey, in time and distance, from Ireland to the Philippines, yet the banner over the church door, with his picture, said in large bold letters, ‘Welcome Home Father John’.

Mass For Fr John Curry RIP

By Fr Donal O’Dea

The parish of San Roque, San Felipe, Zambales, in the Diocese of Iba, sponsored a memorial Mass, dinner and program for the late Fr John Curry on 16 January. This was a gift of the pastor, Fr Jaime F. Escurzon, the parish pastoral council, the principal, faculty and students of St Columban's Montessori School, the alumni association and other friends.

Bishop Florentino G. Lavarias of Iba was the main celebrant, with eight Columbans and five diocesan priests concelebrating. Other diocesan priests joined later in the program.

My Missionary Life Is The Fruit Of A Dream

By Marife Padao

Marife ‘Epie’ Padao, a physical therapist by profession, is from Katipunan, Zamboanga del Sur,a former Columban parish in the Diocese of Pagadian, and is now working in the Columban parish in Dublin, Ireland. 

Leaving family in the province for greener pastures in the big city is quite common for a fresh college graduate to do.  It was 1997 in Manila when I volunteered at the Elderly Program in Payatas, Quezon City, where the Vincentian Fathers are based.  Payatas is the place where the trash slide happened in July 2000.  My purpose was to acquire a volunteer certificate for future use for applying abroad while doing my self-review for the board exam. 

The Lady Smiled At Me

By Sister Redempta Twomey SSC

Columban Sister Redempta is Assistant Editor of Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Ireland and Britain. Pope Benedict XVI will be on pilgrimage in Lourdes from 13 to 15 September.

In the semi-darkness of the confessional, the priest, Fr Romain listened to the little girl. Poor and unlettered, she told him of the strange event that had happened two days previously on the eleventh of February 1858 in the grotto of Massabielle. In the local dialect she said, ‘I saw something white, in the shape of a lady.’ A good man, he listened without showing any interest though he was amazed at the coherence of her story. One detail in particular struck him: as she bent to remove her shoes and stockings to cross the little stream and join her companions in gathering sticks, Bernadette said she heard a noise, ‘like a gust of wind.’ The priest thought of the ‘gust of the wind’ at Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2. Was this too the Holy Spirit? It was then that the child saw ‘something white’ and knelt and prayed the rosary in front of her.

Matt Talbot – The Workers’ Saint

By Mary Gaffney

Mary Gaffney tells the story of Matt Talbot, a Dubliner who struggled with a drink problem,
then led a severe ascetical life, and became known after his death as the Workers’ Saint.

As a child I used to go on Holiday to an aunt who lived in Parnell Square, Dublin, and every morning would attend Mass in St Saviour’s Church, Dominick Street. To get to Dominick St, I would walk through Granby Lane, where I would stop to pray at the spot where Matt Talbot, the Workers’ Saint, died. It was during those years that I developed a devotion to him that has lasted to this day.

Tommy, His Mother And I

By Fr Bobby Gilmore SSC

Fr Bobby Gilmore, a Columban from Ireland and a regular contributor to these pages, spent many years in Mindanao and later in Jamaica. He then worked with Irish migrants in Britain where, with others, he helped secure the release of a group of Irishmen wrongly jailed for a bombing. He is the Chairperson of the Migrant Rights Centre in Dublin ( Here he reflects on the heartbreak involved in emigration, drawing on an experience while in Jamaica. For Jamaicans the ‘Barrel’ symbolizes everything that the Balikbayan Box does for Filipinos.

A crisis of papers unfixed,
two three jobs as a domestic
and weathering the cold,
the barrel
in her kitchen-corner

a ship’s hold, constantly
waiting to be filled –
This time bargain clothes,
employers’ cast-offs
for the children back home

(Grace Nichols, Jamaican poet)

Mission In The Mall

By Father Dan Joe O’Mahony OFMCap

Deep-sea fishing is very hard work! It’s also a good image of what I’m doing at the moment. It’s very different from the time I was chaplain in various community schools where life was very structured and I had great support. But, we work under the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit; each day praying, ‘Oh, that today you would listen to the voice of the Lord...Listen...Today...Listen to the Spirit.’ And this has led me to my present position: I am an industrial chaplain, working in a town center or shopping mall.

Why Ireland

By Gracia Kibad

(L-R) Columban missionaries Gracia Kibad, 
Carla Petautschnig and Susy Tramoloa

Gracia Kibad, a Columban lay missionary from Bauko, Mountain Province, has been in Ireland since 1996.