Carols Echoing Angels’ Songs

Pope stresses importance of dialogue to Japanese students.
On 21 August Pope Francis met with 200 students and staff from Gauken Bunri Seibu Junior High School, Tokyo, Japan.

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Back from Fiji

Kurt Zion Pala is a Columban seminarian from Iligan City. Earlier this year he returned from his two-year First Mission Assignment (FMA) in Fiji. Here he is interviewed by Anne B.Gubuan, assistant editor of Misyon and Columban Mission.

What happens now after your FMA in Fiji?

I will continue my studies in theology another two years. (Editor’s note: these began last June.)Then I’ll be ordained deacon. Less than three years more. I’m getting nervous. I’m almost there. It’s more of an excitement, can’t wait to reach that stage already. Living in Fiji, I’ve seen my life as a missionary priest. That’s where my choices were affirmed.
It was tough but I was happy. Life on the missions is full of challenges that you will not really experience if you are in your own place.

Members of the traditional Indian Mandali Catholic prayer group of which Kurt is also a member.

At first I thought I was ready for the missions. I had my spiritual year, then philosophy, then theology,not to mention all the exposure trips and the experience of being immersed in different pastoral situations. I tried ‘nibbling’ at it all in to nourish me and prepare me for the journey ahead. But right now, I can really say that nothing will prepare you for missionary life.

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My Life In Arko Punla Community

By Vera Santos

On 13 April Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, retired Archbishop of Manila, was the main celebrant at a Mass to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of Punla, the only L’Arche community in the Philippines. It is located in Cainta, Rizal.’L’Arche’ is the French for ‘The Ark’, a name derived from Noah’s Ark. L’Arche Philippines is known as Ang Arko ng Pilipinas.

Lala and Hachi

Over the years a number of Columban seminarians have done pastoral work in Punla.

In this article Vera Santos tells us how her ten years of involvement with AngArko has blessed her.

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement,who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God’ (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, New American Bible Revised Edition).

For the past ten years that I have been a friend and now a volunteer in the Punla Community, I’ve come to realize that one of the most joyful discoveries in my encounter with the Core Members is that in recognizing, affirming and comforting them, I find myself being recognized, affirmed and comforted as well. Let me recount my experiences with Raymond, Jordan, John Paul, Mariflor, Rea, Lala and Benito and why I find peace, joy and comfort when I am in Arko:


Ang Arko ng Pilipinas – Special Friends

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Responsible Stewardship in Mission

By Sr Alicia Alambra FMM

Sister Alicia is a Franciscan Missionary of Mary from the Philippines. She has written before for Misyon, from Bolivia and from the USA. She is currently working in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The missionary work of the Church could not continue without the service of those who spend much of their time in front of a computer ensuring that financial resources are properly used.

‘Build a community of administrative andfinancial leadersin support of pastoral practice to achievethe mission of the Church.’

Sister Alicia in her office in St Donatus Parish as Business Manager

This is the goal of our work as Business Managers OF the parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Our Parish

I working ina parish, St Donatus, Blue Island, Illinois, founded by the Comboni Missionaries in 1909,.that includes few skilled but many unskilled workers, some of them migrants. The former residents were Italian who in recent years left the parish and went west of Chicago. Now about 90 percent of the populace are from Mexico and Guatemala.

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Death Anniversary of Fr Douglas

Shaken and Stirred

By Fr Pat O’Shea

Fr Francis Vernon Douglas
Fr Francis Vernon Douglas

The 70th anniversary of the death of Columban Fr Francis Vernon Douglas, a New Zealander, was observed on 27 July this year. He was last seen alive in Paete, Rizal, Philippines, on that date in 1943 when Japanese soldiers took him away in a truck after days of torturing him. Fr Pat O’Shea, an Irish Columban who worked in Mindanao in the 1970s, writes here about an event in the Archdiocese of Wellington, for which Fr Douglas was ordained before becoming a Columban, to mark the anniversary.

On 21 July Wellington experienced two strong earthquakes, the first about 7.17am and the second, measured at 6.5, at just after 5pm. Thankfully, there was little structural damage and no serious injuries but many people were badly shaken by the experience.

Here was a strong and brave man

By Fr John Keenan

Fr Francis Vernon Douglas

ColumbanFr John Keenan first came to the Philippines in 1966 and is currently chaplain at Centro Escolar University, Manila. We are republishing this article, which first appeared in Misyon in the January-February 2001 issue, in conjunction with Fr Pat O’Shea’s article Shaken and Stirred in this issue.

As a new century and a new millennium begins, Pope John Paul II is anxious that the lives and deaths of those who suffered and died heroically in the service of others be recorded and documented. The sufferings and death of Fr Francis Vernon Douglas at the hands of the Japanese Military Police in the Philippines during World War II is one story that must not be forgotten. Fr John Keenan tells us about it.


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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 FarEast, 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.

Certainly I had no intention of raising chickens. I am no chicken farmer. But what could I do?

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.

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Fatima’s Story

By Fatima de Castro







Fatima comes to the Mission Office in Manila to do volunteer work. She is the eldest of five siblings. Her father is a seafarer and her mother a housewife.

I’m Ma. Fatima de Castro, a Fourth Year college student at St Paul University, Manila. We have a way of life that’s austere and humble. Let me begin my story involvinga friend named Mike. He used to go to this place overlooking Teresa, Rizal, four hours from Manila. There he met an old lady he calls ‘Nanay’ who sellscoffee, snacks and cigarettes to passersby, especially truck drivers who deliver vegetables and meat downtown. She lives in a small crowded spot beside the highway. She never has a long sleep because she’s watching out for customers that might come and buy.

I went to this place with Mike to relax, enjoy the view of the sunset and of Laguna de Bay and also meet Nanay. The first time I saw her, I felt sad and pitied her because she was on her own. Her husband is always drunk and she can’t depend on him. They have no electricity so theydepend only on a lamp. No gas stove, just a grill. Mike gave her a cellphone with a load so that the three of us could keep in touch.

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