The Impact of Columban Formation on My Life

By Jose Isagani Flores

This is an extract from the sharing of Jose Isagani Flores, PhD, from Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, a member of the first group of seminarians to enter the College Formation Program of the Missionary Society of St Columban in Mabolo, Cebu City, in 1994. He is on the college faculty at Colegio San Agustin, Bacolod City, where his wife, Jo Ann A. Flores, PhD, RN, is Dean of the College of Nursing.

When asked to share at our Homecoming on ‘The Impact of Columban Formation on Our Lives’ I felt both nostalgic and hesitant.

It was through the Columbans that I learned to live in a community where there is friendship and love. The Columbans taught me the importance of caring for those who are in need, whose rights are not respected and are trampled upon.

Our Hideaway

The Man in White Garb

By Gregorio O. Pelaez III

The author is a nurse from Cagayan de Oro City and hopes to be in Ireland in October to practice his profession.

The author

After graduating from high school I had nothing in mind but my ambition to become a lawyer and I was ecstatic about it. It was a grand plan that I laid down for my future, and I was convinced that going through four years to get a bachelor’s degree and another four for law school is never a pick-and-shovel undertaking. I was young, full of vigor, and was up for the challenge. With my parent’s backing, I was certain of the steps to take ahead to become a lawyer. But, the inevitable adverse event unfolded on May 11, 2003 when my father died of Hemorrhagic Stroke just a month before the school year opened. Consequently, my dream of going to law school remained just a dream and the financial constraints and hard choices that followed were the biggest impediments I had to endure throughout my college years.

A Light of Hope

By Mary Joy Rile

The author is Assistant Editor of and Columban Mission.

I first met the Light The Life (LTL) Candles Community of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, Novaliches on their second anniversary and blessing of Light the Life Learning Center on May 6, 2017. Looking at the mothers and how excited they were at the products of their labor, I knew there was something more that I ought to listen to. Two months later, Korean Columban lay missionary Anna Noh Hyein, who initiated the Light the Life candle-making project, brought one of the mothers, Mrs. Joy Price Sullano, to our office, so I grabbed the opportunity to interview her.

Joy Price Sullano (left) being interviewed by Mary Joy Rile (right) at the Columban Mission House, Singalong, Manila

A Saunter Experience with God

By Elbert Balbastro

The author is from Oton, Iloilo, Panay. He entered the Columban seminary formation in June 2012. Elbert and Jerry Lohera had their first aggregation as temporary members of the Society of St Columban on 27 June. They are on their two-year First Mission Assignment in Pakistan at the time this article is published.

Elbert reading his commitment, First Aggregation to the Society on 27 June

Life is full of surprises because we have one great God – He who treats us unique and special in every way.

When I left the house on 3 March 2013 for a pilgrimage I carried with me a lot of worries about many things. We were to walk about 168.1 kilometers from Malolos, Bulacan to Manaoag, Pangasinan. I started to feel all those fears and apprehensions in my heart. I asked God for the grace to know Him in the image of every person I met and to guide me in acknowledging my limitations and weaknesses… and to work on them. I knew it was going to be a long walk but what I did not realize was that the entire journey would truly become a life-changing experience for me.

A Journey of a Seminarian

By Jerry Lohera

The author is from La Victoria, Kauswagan, Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental. He joined the Columban seminary formation in June 2012 and is leaving for Pakistan on 7 July for a two-year First Mission Assignment (FMA).

Jerry giving an advent recollection to selected inmates at the Medium Security Compound, New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa City, December 2016

Love hurts. I think it is fair to say that. I first left my lonely dad at home when I decided to enter the seminary in 2012. While I was happy realizing that this is what my heart desires, a part of me felt the pain of “separation”, although the relationship I had with my father was like a roller coaster before we became close to each other. From the outset, I knew that formation life will be very tough for me yet there is resolute contentment and consolation even if I don’t know what lies ahead. Fear and reluctance interplaying with courage and conviction are always present, which is helping me a lot in my growth as a person. Prayer, community, academic and pastoral life have to be well balanced in honing a well-integrated person to be whole for the Kingdom. As it turns out, it’s not an easy process, it needs a big heart. But through God’s grace, I am thriving.

In the Name of the Trinity, I am a Missionary

By Luda L. Egbalic

Luda in Talaandig dress

 The author is from Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, and is the second of the ten children of Mrs Lucresia Luminhay Egbalic of the Talaandig Tribe in that province and of Mr David Fabre Egbalic, a Boholano. She has been in Korea as a Columban Lay Missionary since 2014.

A Messenger of His Love

I am not a writer, but I’m writing this reflection for myself and for others, hoping to be enlightened more about the Trinity’s love and God’s desire for each one of us to become a messenger of His love and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life.

I’ve always believed it is the love of the Trinity that brought me to this beautiful country, South Korea, and compelled me to persevere on mission. I also believe that this mission is not mine. It is God’s mission, and He has blessed me to carry it out with Him. God is always at the forefront, and I follow Him. There would be times when I kept my distance from Him because I felt tired and even tempted to stop. But along the way I knew God had sent the Holy Spirit to keep me going.

Dialogue of Life in Lanao del Norte

Elbert Balbastro and Jerry Lohera are two Columban seminarians, Elbert from Oton, Iloilo, Panay, and Jerry from La Victoria, Kauswagan, Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental. Later this year they will be going to Pakistan for their two-year First Mission Assignment. Both entered the Columban seminary formation in June 2012. Both are now in their second year of Theology in Pastoral Ministry at Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City.

In June 2016 they spent two weeks with the Maruhom Family, who are Muslims, in Sigayan, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte. Here they share their experience.

Dialogue of Life – Experiencing What Enhances One’s Understanding

By Elbert Balbastro

Elbert Balbastro with the Imam in the Mosque in Vamenta Subdivision, Barra, Opol, Misamis Oriental

‘Unity in the midst of diversity’ is a commonly used expression in regard to engagement in dialogue. Living for two weeks in Sigayan, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, formerly Karomatan, Lanao del Norte, in Mindanao, Philippines, with my fellow Columban seminarian Jerry Lohera, I encountered two distinct ethno-religious groups living in the same house. The first was the Meranao tribe, to which our host family, that of Ali Maruhom, belonged and the other was the Talaandigto which the woman of the house, Daya Maruhom, and her cousins who happened to be spending their vacation in the house when we arrived belonged. The Talaandig people live mostly in the Province of Bukidnon.

Hangop Kabataan

By Jocelyn Ocariza-Efhan

The author, known to her friends as ‘Jojo’, is from Dumalinao, Zamboanga del Sur. St Isidore Parish, Dumalinao, was founded by the Columbans in 1957.  

The Author

‘Paduola kanako ang mga bata . . . kay ang gingharian sa langit ila sa mga tawo nga sama kanila’ – ‘Let the children come to me . . . for the kingdom of heaven belong to such as these' (Mt 19:14). Fr Michael Sinnott shared this, his favorite verse from the Bible, with me and it continues to inspire me, to ‘fuel me up’, every day as I attend to children with special needs.

‘Why me? Why me?’

By Anne B. Gubuan

This is the vocation story of Fr Finbar Maxwell from Ballyfermot, Dublin, Ireland, who was ordained as a Columban priest in 1988. The author is Assistant Editor of

Anne, far left, Father Finbar, far right, Pililla, Rizal, 28 September 2016

I am always spellbound listening to vocation stories.  They are almost always stories of faith and courage, the pain of letting go and braving the oceans of a missionary journey. What makes these stories extra fascinating for me is the fact that these missionaries leave their families without the promise of going back to be with them again.  I don’t think I have or will ever have that kind of courage.

The Joy of Encountering God’s Presence in the Andes

By Erl Dylan J. Tabaco

The author is a Columban seminarian who spent two years, 2014 – 2016, in Peru on his First Mission Assignment (FMA), part of his preparation to be a Columban missionary priest. He is from Holy Rosary Parish, Agusan, Cagayan de Oro City. He is a regular contributor to

Erl with the Peruvian flag at Machu Picchu

Since childhood I have been fascinated by geography. As a child I loved to build ‘islands’ and ‘mountains’ of sand on the seashore and imagine myself at their summits. It was a lifelong dream to travel but being in Peru was far beyond my imagination.