From Killaloe To Iba

By Fr Donal O’Dea SSC

My vocation journey was in many ways prosaic and began during my high school years, 1940 to 1945. There was a surge of vocations to the priesthood in Ireland at that time, especially for the missions. You certainly weren’t fighting against the current – and jobs were scarce!

Religious Background

Family-wise, we had strong ties with the clergy and religious. Two of my father’s brothers were priests in our Diocese of Killaloe. A sister of my mother was a nun, working at that time in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Her brother had spent a year as a seminarian in the Columbans, a classmate of the late Father Aedan McGrath (Misyon cover story, Jan-Feb 1999.) We also got Far East, the Irish Columban magazine.

Lest The World Become A Desert

By Kris Mina

Malate Church and parish community is in the heart of Manila. It is aware of the growing catastrophe being caused by the destruction of the environment all over the Philippines and all over the world. Part of its response is to set up the farming community called Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning (CELL), an hour’s drive from Manila. There in Cavite, Kris and Roberto Mina have done something wonderful to our eyes – they have created a beautiful world which the parishioners and diverse visitors are invited to experience and learn from. Below, Kris tells us about this extraordinary experiment in promoting God’s Kingdom in a novel and vital way.

We are into organic farming, but we do more than just farming. Our family lives and works in an ecological spirituality center, my husband Roberto and I being staff members. We are on land not our own, with an area of 1.2 hectares, a quarter of which is devoted to receiving visitors who stay for a day or overnight. They usually ask at the beginning of their stay, “Where is the farm?” They look for vast rice fields and rows of vegetables and cash crops, and we have nothing much of that. The kind of farming we do is PERMACULTURE, which encourages food to be grown and forest, animals and flowers.

The Scandal Of Child Soldiers

Based on an article by Declan Fahy The Irish Times

Sierra Leone is a part of the world where children have suffered the worst forms of child exploitation, now a global issue. It had an estimated 6,000 child combatants during the war. A further 5,000 were used as forced labor in rebel camps. The war was fought from 1991 between government forces and armed groups, including the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)

Because God Is Wise

By Fr Declan McNaughton MSSC

I came from a fairly typical Irish Catholic background and was educated at schools run by nuns, the Christian Brothers as well as a parochial school. When I first became interested in the priesthood in my early teens, it was in my own diocese that I was interested in serving. However, we received the Columban magazine, the Far East, so it was natural that I should begin to read the articles written by Columbans telling about the situations that they were working in. What impressed me was the lack of priests in all of these countries, the plight of the people who were not able to receive the Sacraments regularly and thus was born my missionary vocation.

I Have Come To Stay

By Fr Donal Halliden MSSC

On a late summer day in August 1940, while driving my mother to town, my eldest brother, William, already an ordained Columban, suddenly said, “If Donal wants to go to Dalgan he might as well go this year.”  Dalgan was the major seminary of the Columbans in Ireland.  I was still in high school but I had passed the matriculation examination of the National University of Ireland and on this basis I would be accepted in Dalgan.

Five Vocations in a Family

If my mother was surprised, she did not show it but I do remember her saying, “Anyone who wants to serve the Church cannot be selfish.”  My father still had to be consulted and he readily gave his consent even though I was the fourth of his five sons wishing to enter the priesthood, three of us as Columbans and the fourth as a secular for our diocese.  A fifth vocation was to come to the family later when our younger sister, Maureen, entered the local convent of the Sisters of Mercy.

Dust Of Life

By Christina Noble

Christina Noble was a street child in the city of Dublin, Ireland. Her father was alcoholic and she suffered unspeakably. But it is one of the mysteries of life that she has risen from the ashes of her childhood and given her life to helping street children in Vietnam. Vietnam, like the Philippines, has thousands of street children and homeless children. The editor of the Korean version of Misyon, Fr Malachy Smyth, a Columban missionary in Korea, has interviewed Christina and has allowed us to share that interview with you our readers of Misyon.

The Platinum Blonde

Edited by Sean Hogan

Father Aedan McGrath, died on December 25th 2000, aged 94, had been a Columban priest for 71 years and was imprisoned by the Chinese for nearly three years in 1951. In his later life he did wonderful work in the Philippines going around all the islands even in his nineties and strengthening the Legion of Mary which was his first love. He also organized many lay missionaries called Incolae who went from the Philippines to Oceania. Up to his mid-nineties he was still playing a good game of golf. (Ed)

He joined the Columban Fathers and was ordained in 1929. Six months later he was sent to Hanyang in China. “I was there just in time for the flood. The Yangtze and the Han Rivers met and overflowed. Millions of people drowned. For six months, there was 16 feet of water in the house where I was staying. We had to live upstairs.”

A straw hut and 24 missions

Following a couple of years around Hanyang, he was sent to T’sein Kiang, where he lived with the Buddhist family. “There were three generations: a grandfather, three sons and twenty grandchildren. They had pickle factory. Life was simple.”

He had 24 missions spread out over a wide area. “I spent three days in each mission, staying in a straw hut. I brought my own blanket. There were no roads or buses. I walked.”

He Taught Us How To Love

By Niall O’ Brien mssc

Fr. Eddie Allen died at the Columban Headquarters in Batang, Himamaylan on Saturday the 3rd of March at 8:30 in the morning after a long illness in bed. He was 94 years old age and had worked in the Philippines for the last fifty years. I am sad that I was not in Negros and able to attend his funeral, as I was in Ireland getting a medical check up.

A Mystery

There is a little mystery about Eddie. He never learned to drive or at least he never drove here in the Philippines; he never built any churches or organized schools; he lived quite life in the Convento, going out when called but he was ever into initiating any evangelizing projects or social projects. Yet, he was the most popular and sought after Columban priest in Negros. I don’t think the word popular is the right word. He was not interested in popularity, maybe I sold say the “love”. The most loved Columban priest.

God’s Loving Touch

By Her Excellency, Mary McAleese, President of the Republic Ireland

Mary McAleese is the president of Ireland. As a girl she helped to promote the Columban mission magazine, The Far East. Recently she was asked to address missionaries and here is an extract from her address.

Through the years I have come to know and hugely to admire the tremendous work done by missionaries in all parts of the world – the extraordinary heroism they have demonstrated in bringing and, more importantly, living the Gospel in so many different places. More than anyone, they have great insight, distilled from their experience, that what the world need s most of all is the loving touch of God, not empty recitations from some rule book. More than anyone, they’re well-placed to bring this message to a world still locked in conflict and prejudice.

A Shared Ethnic

Even the most unyielding problems can be resolved on the foundations of a common value system, built by men and women of good faith coming together with a common mission as equals and with a commitment to turn away from a conflict driven world view to a consensus driven one.

Who Will Climb The Mountain Of The Lord?

By Maricel Bedra

Today Catholic Ireland is going through a crisis. Undreamed of wealth has arrived along with a nightmare of scandals. Young people struggle to deal with the new reality. Some leave the church, some drift into indifference, a small but growing number even commit suicide. But some remain faithful and Maricel Bedra, a Columban Lay Missionary from the Philippines, joined these youthful people in an arduous pilgrimage of the Holy Mountain, the mountain of Patrick, the original apostle of Ireland. She shares the experience with us.