Life-Giving Connections

By John Wang Zongshe

When I was baptized my godfather chose the name John in honor of St John the Baptist. I was born into a traditional Catholic family and brought up in Hebei Province, four hours by train southwest of Beijing. Our village was one-third Catholic. When I was young there was no television in our home so I asked my father to tell me Bible stories and that is where my faith journey began. As a primary school student, each Saturday I would play with my friends in our village but also made time for one hour’s adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in the local church. It was the custom in our village to have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday afternoon and the Catholics would spend some time in prayer in the church. I feel that my personal relationship with God has its origin in those hours before the Blessed Sacrament.

The First Chinese Columban Seminarians

Last June John Wang Zongshe and Joseph Li Jiangang came to Manila as the first candidates from the People’s Republic of China to join the Columbans. The Columbans were originally known in Ireland as the Maynooth Mission to China when the Irish bishops gave their approval on 10 October 1916 to a new mission of the Irish Church to China. The Society of St Columban was formally approved on 29 June 1918, the feast of Sts Peter and Paul.

When You Learn, Teach; When You Get, Give

By Fr Nicholas Murray

Fr Nicholas Murray died in his native Ireland on 21 April, Holy Thursday, ten days after his 73rd birthday. We first published this article in May-June 2004. The late Father Murray went to China after serving for 12 years as Superior General of the Missionary Society of St Columban. Though he made ‘it very clear that I am a practicing Catholic, to enhance the witness value of my presence’ he found himself in China being a missionary in a very different way from his years in the Philippines where everyone called him ‘Father’. His Chinese students knew him as ‘Mr Nick’.

I’ve been teaching English in a university in Chongging in southwest China since September 2002. I chose to work in this part of China because it is somewhat less developed than the east and the government is now making efforts to develop the west. Chongging is at the center of that effort. I teach Oral English and a course in Western Culture for AB students majoring in English. The latter course in particular affords great scope for communicating values, with topics such as the Bible and Christianity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance and Reformation, to name but a few.

My Mother’s Insight

By Fr Kwon Tae-Moon, Johan

Fr Tae-moon Kwon, whose baptismal name is Johan, was ordained in Korea in January. He reflects on his mother's visit to China while he was there on his first mission assignment (FMA) with Fr Andrei Paz when they were still seminarians. Both new ordained priests will take up their first missionary assignment as priests in Taiwan in September. The article first appeared in The Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Australia and New Zealand.


On 3 April 2008 my mother came from Korea to China to see me. My plan wasn't to go sightseeing but to let her see how we Columbans work in China. As a result, we met many of the people whom I was encountering in my ministry.

First Missionary Experience

By Fr Andrei O. Paz 


Fr Andrei O. Paz was ordained to the priesthood on 7 December in his hometown, Bangar, La Union. He wrote this article while still a seminarian. He is currently working in Malate Parish, Manila, but will take up a new assignment in Taiwan in September with Fr Kwan Tae-Moon, Johan, whose ordination to the priesthood he attended in Korea in January.

A Daughter’s View On Manic Depression

By Elizabeth Parkes

Elizabeth Parkes, then 11 and now 14, the daughter of Jackie Parkes, wrote on how she helps her mom cope with manic depression.


As you read the book you will pick up some tips on how to cope with your parents who have a mental illness. Well, I am 11-years-old and have a mother who suffers from manic depression. Every now and then I give her some tips and targets that she should work up to. I say things like ‘When you keep up your good mood you have nearly emptied your drinking cup, but every time you keep a bad mood your glass fills up again.’ This gives her a big boost and helps her to feel a bit better. When you have a mental illness, plenty of rest is needed, so every couple of nights I give my mom a massage on her back, feet or head. All massages can tone your body and refresh your mind.

Wherever I Will Send You, You Shall Go

By Father Thomas M. Priela

The author is a diocesan priest of the Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, comprised of the province of Oriental Mindoro. The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) has been working in the island of Mindoro since before World War II.

The Philippines, being the only major Christian country in Asia, (East Timor’s population of 825,000 is 93 percent Catholic, compared to 83 percent of more than 82,000,000 in the Philippines) has a unique missionary responsibility. John Paul II made a call in this regard.  Though these are part of my reasons for becoming a missionary, my motivation is a little more personal. Within living memory we in the Philippines, especially Mindoro, have experienced the benefits of mission work. By a historical accident, the missions to China benefited us greatly.

The Bird

By Fr Aedan McGrath (1906-2000)

Composed during his captivity in China  between 1950 and 1953.

I have one little friend within this jail,
Who comes each day to visit without fail;
And which he loves — just me, or what I give
I should not like to be too positive.

Timely Advice

by Nicholas Murray

It is amazing how a potentially disruptive incident can result in a learning experience both for students and teacher alike. My enlightenment came in an Oral English class towards the end of last semester. It came through the ringing of the ubiquitous mobile phone. Because of its disruptive effect I had previously banned it from my classes. Little did I realize then that one day it would bring me a timely message.

David was a twenty four-year-old student, one of four male students in a Freshman class of thirty. Most of his fellow students were in the 20 or 21 age bracket and I often wondered how he finished up in that class at all. Having been graded on the basis of their entrance exam, this was a bright, alert and enthusiastic class, all of which qualities seemed to have bypassed David.