New Zealand

A Killer Cyclone

by Fr Frank Hoare


A wrecked house in Natanuku

Columban Fr Frank Hoare, based in Fiji, first went there in 1973. He is from Ireland.


Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston

In mid-February this year Tropical Cyclone Winston passed fairly close to Fiji on an eastward path towards Tonga. It missed the large islands but did damage to some of the smaller Lau islands. It damaged one of the big islands in the Tonga group and then made a sharp U turn picking up force from the heat of the ocean below as it reversed its path towards Fiji. The government issued warnings to everyone to prepare for the cyclone by nailing wooden shields over windows, by tying down roofs with wire, by storing up food and water and candles and by buying batteries for radios and flashlights. Evacuation centers in schools and halls were prepared.

A Present-day Good Samaritan

by Fr Barry Cairns


The Good Samaritan (after Delacroix), Van Gogh
May 1890, Saint-Rémy.

Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, Netherlands [Web Gallery of Art]

One of my recent side jobs was to teach for a term as a substitute lecturer at a junior college in Yokohama. There were 30 students in the class. Many were destined to be social workers in Christian-run homes for children with disabilities, retirement homes and hospices. Not one of the students was a Christian. For this reason, the dean of the College asked me to give a ten-week course entitled simply, ‘Christianity.’ At my request each student was to have a copy of the New Testament and a copy of Shūsaku Endō‘s Life of Jesus. (Both in Japanese as were the lectures.)

World AIDS Day 2013

This year World AIDS Day is observed on 1 December. Here we feature three Columban missionaries working with persons affected by AIDS/HIV, Sr Mary Dillon, an Irish Columban Sister in Myanmar, Jhoanna Resari from the Philippines and Kim Jung-Woong (Bosco) from Korea, two Columban Lay Missionaries in Taiwan.

Reflection - Suicides in Japan and God's gentleness

By Fr Barry Cairns

Fr Barry Cairns from New Zealand has been a Columban missionary in Japan since 1956.  He offers us this reflection, written from the heart, on the tragedy of suicide and the closeness and gentleness of God.

I have just come from a very emotional funeral of a young girl of 18 who committed suicide. I write this after sharing with the distraught parents and realize that I too need to share with someone.

Here was a strong and brave man

By Fr John Keenan

Columban Fr John Keenan first came to the Philippines in 1966 and is currently chaplain at Centro Escolar University, Manila. We are republishing this article, which first appeared in Misyon in the January-February 2001 issue, in conjunction with Fr Pat O’Shea’s article Shaken and Stirred in this issue.


Fr Francis Vernon Douglas

As a new century and a new millennium begins, Pope John Paul II is anxious that the lives and deaths of those who suffered and died heroically in the service of others be recorded and documented. The sufferings and death of Fr. Francis Vernon Douglas at the hands of the Japanese Military Police in the Philippines during World War II is one story that must not be forgotten. Fr. John Keenan, a Columban missionary from Ireland, tells us about it.

Fr. Douglas was tortured and is thought to have died near Paete, Laguna, in July 1943. Paete is a quiet country town nestled between the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains and Laguna de Bay, about 115 kms from Manila. Founded as a Christian settlement around 1580, its inhabitants are famous for their woodcarving skills.

Dawning of terror

On July 25, 1943, as usual the people were eagerly looking forward to their annual fiesta in honor of St. James the Apostle. However, the peace and tranquility of the town, crowded with visitors, was abruptly interrupted when the Japanese Imperial Army decided to zone off the area. It was cordoned off and no one was allowed to leave. All males from fourteen upwards were rounded up and incarcerated in the centuries-old parish church, famous for its beautiful woodcarvings and paintings. The Japanese were seeking out guerrillas and their collaborators who were carrying on a resistance in the woods of nearby hills. For several days, some 250 men were interrogated and tortured, deprived of sleep and mercilessly beaten until they gave information or died.

'Sinful' Christmas

By Fr Frank Hoare

Greeted with hospitality and sweet tea, a Columban priest and his companion tell the story of Christmas to non-Christians in Fiji. This article won a ‘Highly Commended’ award for The Far East, the magazine of the Columbans in Australia and New Zealand where it first appeared in the November-December 2008 issue, from the Australasian Catholic Press Conference in Sydney in September. 

‘You have walked all this way to enlighten us about the meaning of Christmas. You are a holy man; you are a saint; you are an incarnation of God’, a middle-aged Fiji-Indian man named Ram Samuj enthused after I had shared with him the story of Christmas. I remembered how Paul and Barnabas had torn their garments in horror when, after healing a cripple, the people of Lystra attempted to sacrifice oxen to them (Acts 14:14). My protestations of mere humanity to Ram Samuj were less dramatic, but he accepted them. No sacrifice was performed.

Good Friday: Stations Of The Cross

By Fr Barry Cairns

Fr Barry Cairns, from New Zealand, was ordained in 1955 first went to Japan in 1956 and is still there. He has contributed many articles over the years to Columban magazines.

The Stations of the Cross are a traditional Lenten prayer. The Presbyterian scripture scholar, Rev. William Barclay, helped me with the Stations. On TV he said, ‘We Protestants tend to pass over the Roman Catholic usage of Veronica and the three falls on the way to Calvary, because they are not in the Bible. But these scenes come from an ancient tradition, so let us treat them as we treat Bible scenes; namely, we ask ourselves: ‘What message does this scene have for me today?'

A Little Piece Of Peace

Sister Clare Garcillano SPC

On Saturday, 19 May, I arrived in Dili, East Timor, with so much anxiety. I had finally arrived in my new mission, after waiting for three months. Thinking of what awaited me in this war-torn area and not knowing the main languages made me a little worried. However, I felt some confidence coming to this former colony of Portugal knowing Portuguese. Truly, I did not feel lost at Dili Airport upon arrival. The people there spoke Portuguese, if not that fluently, at least well enough to carry on a conversation. Later I discovered that only those Timorese educated during the colonization by Portugal, which ended in 1975, spoke Portuguese. It is used in government offices and in the business sector and is one of two official languages, the other being Tetum, the national language. Most people can speak Bahasa Indonesia, the result of 27 years of Indonesian occupation. A few speak English, especially UN personnel and the staff of NGOs, many of whom are from Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Pages