God’s Servant First

By Fr. Alo Connaughton mssc

We had the privilege of welcoming “Fr. Thomas Y” to the office of the Irish Columban magazine, The Far East. Occasionally his name had cropped up in conversations of older Columbans who had worked in China. The casual observer could be forgiven for assuming that this lively, smiling 70-year-old had probably live a tranquil, uneventful life.

He was born into an old Catholic family in 1929. As a young boy in Nacheng, he had known some of the Columban missionaries and the local bishop, Patrick Cleary. He decided to study for the priesthood in Shanghai. His studies were interrupted by a 16-months jail sentenced for being a member of the Legion of Mary. On his release he continued his theological studies on his own and was ordained priest in 1957.

The Lame Will Walk

By Gee-Gee O. Torres

The great struggle to end anti-personnel landmines continues. Up to now, in spite of the campaign of Princess Diana, Pax Christi and a great number of Christian and to there group throughout the world, some countries continue to make landmines: Pakistan, India, USA, China. Below is an account of our Assistant Editor’s visit to Cambodia where she visited our Filipino missionaries and was faced with the stark reality of the effects of the landmines. (Ed.)

Before I went to Cambodia last year to visit our Filipino missionaries I had to finish laying out our March-April 2000 issue. I also had to edit the articles which I enjoyed doing, except for one: the articles on landmines. I quivered as I read the lines describing how landmines tore off the limbs of the victims. So I went to Cambodia not only with my unpleasant memory of the movie, The Killing Fields, but also with the uncertainty of my safety. I could step on a landmine by chance and lose my leg or... my life. Was I ready to take this risk? I had to make a decision. I decided to go.

A Chalice For China

By James McCaslin, ssc

A bamboo curtain came down around China when Communism took over in the early ‘50s. Missionaries were imprisoned or expelled. Native Chinese priests were executed, tortured and imprisoned. A pall of sadness settled over Christians who went into hiding like in the catacombs of Rome in the time of Nero. China was struggling to stand up and declare her independence before the world and the Church-so associated in some Chinese minds with excessive colonial powers in the past – suffered in the process. We wondered in fear what was happening to the four million Catholics especially during the excesses of the cultural revolution. Then after the death of Mao Zse Tung that bamboo curtain began to part a little. Christians emerged from the catacombs and we suddenly realized with joy that they were alive and well and that the terrible pruning had born much fruit.

A Missionary Of The Old School

By Katie Donovan

Father Aedan McGrath runs the Incola missionary program in Manila. Here he talks to Katie Donovan about his life of adventure: among other things he protected 1,500 women from rape and slaughter by Japanese soldiers in 1939, and spent three years in solitary confinement in a Chinese jail.


“Mao gave us a big compliment, he said the Church was public enemy number one.” Father Aedan McGrath, originally a Dubliner from Drumcondra, recalls being put in prison because of his missionary work as a Columban Father in China: “I was arrested on the 7th of September 1951. I was put in a tiny cell, like a dog box. It was solidarity confinement for three years. There was no table, chair or bed. I could lie on the floor. It wasn’t like Mountjoy, nor one of these prisons that like first-class hotels. I was never allowed to close my eyes, talk or sneeze. All around me people were going mad. They did not have their faith.”

Whiter China

By Sr. Josefina Santos, SPC

A Filipino Sister makes a pilgrimage to China and reports on the difficult situation of the divided Church.

No in my dreams did I ever imagine myself walking on Chinese soil. If someone had told me when I was a child that I would one day see China. I would have said. “You must be joking.” And yet this impossibility became a reality on August 21, 1996 when I set foot in Beijing, the heart of China, with a group of 53 parishioners of St. Margaret’s Church.

Shine On, Farmer Boy

One of the great missionaries of the century was James Walsh, the Maryknoll Bishop who spent many long years in prison in China. His great love for the poor and the marginalized of the world came to the surface in a moment of illumination which he describes here. Though these words were written long before the Vatican Council, they anticipated its spirit and have a power that we can feel even today.

I saw him in the ricefield. He stopped working as I approached and leaned on his hoe. The sweat of a hot day under the South China sun glistened on his brow. His coolie suit of blue denim was covered with dust, and the end of his frayed trousers disclosed a clumsy pair of stub-toed bare feet. He was a big boy for his age, but there was no comeliness in him twice. He was a clodhopper.

Something Crazy for God

Through a mysterious but providential set of circumstances, the Columban Fathers began with Father Edward Galvin. Before going to the seminary in Ireland he seriously considered becoming a missionary but in deference to his parents’ misgivings about missionary life, he entered the Maynooth seminary where young men were trained for their home dioceses. In 1909, on the day he was ordained, his bishop, having no opening for him in the diocese, advised him to go to America and return to home in three years. Fr. Galvin went to New York and became an assistant in Holy Rosary Parish in Brooklyn, New York. It was there he met Fr. John M. Fraser, Canadian missionary, who was the returning to China.

50 Years Ago When I Was A Little Girl

By Sr. Evangeline Canag, FSP

I am sending you...

From far away Rome, I heard John Paul II’s impassioned commissioning of the young people during the 10th World Youth Day in Manila: “To each one of you Christ says: “I am sending you....’ These words are addresses to you. The Church addresses them to all young people around the world today, though they are being addressed especially of the Philippines and to the young people of China, of Japan, Korea and Vietnam....”

Mysterious Macau Part 3

Sr. Ines A. Tan, FMM
A Filipino Missionary in Macau

Continuing her story. Read on:

Ten Meters from China
One day, I went to visit one new immigrant families from China. They are forty families who live in an improvised building, built out over the sea along the coast of Macau, ten meters away from China.

Mysterious Macau Part II

By Sr. Ines A Tan, FMM
Filipino Missionary in Macau

Last Issue: Sr. Ines told us how she began her missionary work in Macau. Read on:

Walking the Streets
St. Francis used to walk the streets- that’s how he did his mission work. I decided to imitate him and I walked the streets of Macau- I met other streets walkers: prostitutes, many of whom were Filipinos.