Following in Father Pat’s footsteps

By Siobhan McCaffrey

Fr Pat McCaffrey, from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, died suddenly in Pakistan on 18 May 2010. He had served first as a Columban missionary in Fiji before joining the pioneering group of Columbans that went to Pakistan in 1979. Later he spent some years in Britain, based in Bradford, where there are many people of Pakistani origin. He was involved with Muslims there and celebrated Mass regularly with Catholic Pakistanis. He returned to Fiji but was to spend his late years in Pakistan. Here his niece writes about her visit, with her brother Niall. This article was published in The Far East, the Columban magazine in Australia and New Zealand.

My uncle, Columban missionary Fr Patrick (Pat) McCaffrey, died in Pakistan on 18 May 2010. His sudden and untimely death meant that no family members from home in Ireland were able to attend his funeral. My brother Niall and I therefore decided to make a pilgrimage to Pakistan over Christmas 2010 to follow in our Uncle Pat’s footsteps.

We arrived at Karachi airport in the early hours of 19 December 2011 and were met by Columban Fr Tomás King. He was to be our host, driver, guide and interpreter, along with Annette Menzes, a good friend of Father Pat’s. We then travelled to the parish of Matli in the Sindh Province where Father Pat had ministered from 1984 to 1994. It was here that he had initiated a housing scheme for parishioners from outlying areas to build their homes on church land in the town. We visited many of these homes that ranged from sturdy brick constructions to basic one-room mud huts.

Remembering the Columbans

By Arlenne B. Villahermosa

The author, a Columban lay missionary who has served in Korea and as coordinator in the Philippines, is from Talisay City, Cebu, and is now based in the Diocese of Banmaw in the Kachin State, northern Myanmar (Burma).

L to R: Sr. Ashwena, Arlenne, Sr. Mary and Columba

‘Because the Columbans love us . . .’ This was the reply of a Kachin woman to a Columban priest when asked about the elaborate celebrations in honor of the Columbans when there were other missionaries who came before them.

The people in Banmaw have never forgotten what it was like to be loved by them.  They have remembered well with gratitude in their hearts

This gratitude is shown in their prayers, in their stories and in the way they celebrate the feast of St Columban every year.  During my first experience of this in Banmaw in 2009, when it coincided with the thanksgiving for the harvest, I was struck by the simplicity and generosity of the people expressed in many ways.  I could only give a deep sigh of gratitude to God because all words fell short of what I personally experienced that day.  What could the Columbans have done?  Or was it the people - or something beyond them?


By Marife Padao

The author recently arrived home in the Philippines from Ireland with the other members of PH17 after their three-year assignment there. She wrote this article while still in Ireland.

Marife Padao

I was so happy when I received my mission appointment, because I had asked God to give me St Joseph’s Parish, Ballymun, Dublin, to be my home here in Ireland. I had a glimpse of what my life would be for three years there. I then made a list of work to do and who to work with.

‘I’m here because of him’

By Fr Michael Mohally

The author, from Cork city, Ireland, has spent many years working with Columban seminarians in both Ireland and the Philippines. He continues to do that in Quezon City.

The King’s Speech won four Oscars this year. It tells the true story of how Lionel Logue, an Australian, helped the future King George VI of England overcome a bad stammer. Fr Mohally here tells a story about an Irish priest who helped many, none of them kings and many of them very poor, overcome speech difficulties. In the incident reported here, nobody could have foreseen the consequences, not only in Ireland but in Fiji and the Philippines.


By Father Bobby Gilmore

This article was first published on the website of the Columbans in Ireland in December. Though Monica and Krzysztof are from Poland, their experience is similar to that of some Filipino couples in Ireland.

Birds stuck between two branches get bitten on both wings (Dinaw Mengestu)

Recently, I met Monica Mysko, an immigrant from Poland. In a conversation with Monica one would be given to think that she is a native of County Meath. Her accent and her English are perfect. Although she learned basic English as a child going to school in Legnica, a town near the German border, she has perfected her English as an immigrant in England for two years and in the past two years since she arrived in Ireland.

A Woman For Her Time

By Stan and Moya Mac Eoin

The authors, husband and wife, are retired teachers who live in Kinvara, County Galway, Ireland, on the southern side of the famed Galway Bay. Stan has been a lifelong friend of your editor since they became classmates in O’Connell Schools, Dublin, in Grade Three. One of the schools in Dublin that sends students to help in Kolkata, Stanhope Street, is where your editor spent four years in the Boys’ Kindergarten.

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’.