England

‘Father, have you heard this joke before?’

By Fr Bernard McDermott


Fr John Blowick as a young priest

Fr John Blowick, the Co-founder with Fr Edward Galvin of the Columbans, said that the pennies of the poor were more important than the pounds of the wealthy, though he welcomed both. The Columbans have been blessed with generous benefactors, both poor and rich, down the years and here in the Philippines we are moving towards being self-supporting through such support. Fr Bernard McDermott, from Manchester, England, was ordained in 1974 and spent the early years of his priesthood in Mindanao. He is now based in Britain where he has served as Regional Director. The story of Frank Joyce, which first appeared in the September 2016 issue of The Far East, the Columban magazine in Australia and New Zealand, is the story, with different details, of all who have supported us Columbans in our mission down through the years.

In The Midst Of Tears I Found Him

By Fr. Peter Grant

The years leading up to the end of apartheid in South Africa were particularly brutal. Sometimes even church people were no help, forgetting the Gospel and embracing the wisdom of the world. Peter Grant lived through these harrowing times. But the pain and the suffering eventually led him back to Christ. He shares his story with us here.

A learning visit to the Philippines

Anna Brown is the first ‘Faith in Action Graduate Volunteer’, spending a year working with Columban Justice and Peace Education and St Mary’s University Chaplaincy. In the article below she reflects on a recent learning visit to the Philippines.



Under the watchful eye of St Columban at San Columbano Mission Center, Batang, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental: L to R: Michael Javier, Gilda Comays, Naanise Mo’unga, Fr Brian Gore, Arlenne Villahermosa, Lorna Cañete and Anna Brown.

I was incredibly fortunate to spend an amazing month learning about the Columbans’ work. It was helpful for my work here in Britain as we often talk about poverty when discussing justice and peace issues in schools. Visiting slum districts, rural communities and urban industrial areas of the Philippines, I was able to begin to understand something of the complexity of poverty – there are rich and poor in every community. I am excited to talk to other young people about this, avoiding simple stereotyping and giving real thought to the language we use.


Traditional Sinulog dance at the Basilica del Santo Niño.

The Jubilee Year of St Columban begins in Rome

Filipina Columban Lay Missionary Rose Basada shares with us her participation in the three-day celebration in Rome marking the opening of the Jubilee Year of St Columban, which runs from 10 October 2014 to 23 November 2015. This year makes the 1400th anniversary of the death of St Columban in the year 615 in the northern Italian town of Bobbio. Rose is based in Birmingham, England.

It was a blessing and privilege for me to participate in the celebrations in Rome to open the Jubilee Year of St Columban, the patron of the Missionary Society of St Columban with whose members we Columban Lay Missionaries work on mission.


Rose, center, waving to Pope Francis

The Jubilee Year began with four major events. They started on 10 October with Ecumenical Vespers at 5:00pm in the Basilica of San Clemente. The church was full of pilgrims from different places in Europe. It was a very moving celebration as people of many cultures and Christian denominations gathered. I was able to meet pilgrims from various churches – Catholic, Anglican and Methodist. The Parish Priest of Bobbio held relics of St Columban during the procession. They are normally kept at the Museum in Bobbio where Columban died in AD 615.

Couples For Christ National Conference At Port Talbot, Wales

By Rev Dr Gareth Leyshon and Sean Haran

Rev Dr Gareth Leyshon is a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cardiff. Sean Haran is a social worker and is married to Mabel Bercero from San Remigio, Cebu. They have two daughters, Therese Maria (5) and Isabel Bernadette (3). Their third child is due in January.

History was made in Port Talbot on 5 May this year, with an event unique in the history of the Catholic Church in Wales. The 6th Annual Conference of Couples for Christ in the UK (CFC-UK) came to the Principality for the first time, hosted by members of CFC-Wales from Swansea, Port Talbot and Bridgend.


Bishop Burns of Menevia presides at opening Mass

It is impossible to find a single phrase which summarises this annual get-together. Prayerful celebration? Worship event? Eurovision Song Contest? Food festival? Eisteddfod? [Editor’s note: The Eisteddfod is Wales’s annual cultural festival. Similar festivals are held by people of Welsh origin in other parts of the world]. Gathering of an extended family? All of them apply, but none on its own does justice.

Filipina Mother Gives Life For Her Child

By Father Seán Coyle

Bernadette Mimura, known as ‘Milai,’ a Filipina living in Ingleby Barwick in the north of England, was faced with a stark choice last year. Aged 37, she discovered she had breast cancer. At the time she was one month pregnant. The doctors told her that they could cure her – but that the drugs they wanted to use would be very strong and affect the baby.

Santacruzan In London

By Sister Mary Moylan SSC

Sister Mary Moylan, who worked before in the London Filipino Chaplaincy, writes about the Euro-Santacruzan, when Filipinos living in Europe walked in procession from Hyde Park to BatterseaParkLondonEngland, in 1997. Each year the festival is celebrated in a different European city.

The Runaway Slaves

By Fr. Aodh O’Halpin, MSSC

Fr. Aodh O’Halpin, Columban chaplain to migrants in London, describes for us the kinds of things that happen in the lives of domestic workers. He has worked in London since the early 1980’s after having been in Mindanao for more than 20 years

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