Philippines

...And Then Let Go

By Bo Sanchez

“How are you, Philip?” I asked a friend one day.Philip retorted, “I’m fine. My son died in an accident, my house burned down, my wife ran away with another man, I lost my job last week and my doctor told me I have lung cancer. Aside from that, I’m okay.”

Philip is the model stoic. I’ve exaggerated his calamities to give you a picture of a wrong way of handling negative emotions; to deny them and cover up our pain. I'm not surprised that Philip has cancer. Why? Because any inner pain that we don’t allow ourselves to feel will manifest itself through tumors, hypertension, heart disease, muscle pains, ulcer. Because of this, I have a fascinating hunch: I bet that if I could only help people acknowledge and feel their hidden emotions of anger, fear, worry and grief, I‘d probably be able to remove 50% of their physical disease. Because our bodies are blueprints of our emotional life.

Sandra, on the other hand, is Philip opposite. “How are you Sandra?” I asked her one day. “Oh Bo, “she crumpled down on my shoulder, “I don’t know what to do with my life. Everyone hates me. No one loves me!” Do I cry with her? The first time, yes. But the eighty-sixth time? I’ve gotten used to her drama. Because every time I see Sandra she always breaks down in a river of tears. Only to find out that her world was about to end because of favorite shirt got damaged in the washing machine or her dog didn’t wag his tail at her!

Slow Learner

By Fr Neil Collins MSSC

“Young people today find it very difficult to make a permanent commitment.”  I’ve heard this many times in recent years, and to some extent I can understand what they mean, because of my own mixed-up history. Many years ago I became a priest, then left the priesthood, and heard God’s call again.

Kalahari Desert Becomes A Nation

By Sr Remedios delos Reyes OSB

About a decade ago, the order of Mary of Immaculate came to Windhoek to start the first mission here in Namibia, Southern Africa. In 1923 my own congregation, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing also went to Namibia to do their apostolates – health and education programs. It’s easy to feel at home here in Namibia. Namibians are very much like us Filipinos. They give importance to family life, education and of course they also love eating and having fun.

Small Population

Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world with an average of 1.3 persons per kilometer. Eleven languages weave a rich cultural tapestry. However, English is the official language since 1990 (Independence Year); Afrikaans and German are also widely used here. There are also eleven ethnic groups in Namibia and the Ovambos are the largest group.

Remembering The Columban Fathers

By Ma. Nimfa Penaco-Sitaca

Judge Ma. Nimfa Penaco-Sitaca of the Regional Trial Court of Misamis Occidental was last year named Most Outstanding Judge in the Gender Justice Awards project launched in December 2003 by the Philippines Center for Women’s Studies (UP-CWS), the UP Center for Women’s Studies Foundation, Inc, and the National Commission on the role of Filipino Women (NCRFW). She lives in Ozamiz City.

The light on the lampstand –  today,  that is how I think of the Columban Fathers who  crossed oceans and seas from Australia, Britain, Ireland, New Zealand and the USA to labor in distant mission fields -  the vineyards of the Lord,  in undeveloped Mindanao.   

Consolation Prize E

How Can I Make Peace Come Alive in My World?

By Angeline Clarisse Pasinabo

Grade 9 – St Augustine, La Consolacion College - Integrated School, Bacolod City


Peace is defined as the absence of war or hostilities. It is something that is needed but cannot still be attained until now. It is essential in our world today in establishing a safe and secured community where we could live in harmony together. It is a vital ingredient for a nation to become productive and progressive.

Attorney Francisco B. Cruz

‘A light in the darkness during those Martial Law years’

By Fr Seán Coyle


Attorney Francisco B. Cruz, Knight of St Sylvester

(8 July 1931 – 18 October 2015)

This article is an edited version of a letter published in The Visayan Daily Star on 23 October 2015.

On 18 October 2015 a great human being and outstanding Christian died in Bacolod City, Attorney Francisco B. Cruz, on the eve of the sixth anniversary of his receiving the City’s Banwahanon Award.

A Tale of Two Communities

By Fr Cireneo Matulac

One of the communities in China visited by Fr Matulac

The author is from Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, in southwest Mindanao. While a seminarian he spent two years on First Mission Assignment in Chile. After his ordination he went on mission to China. He is now Vice-Rector at the Columban House of Studies in Cubao, Quezon City. He has contributed a number of articles to MISYONonline.com over the years.

Recently I visited some small Catholic communities in the north of China. I visited one particular community, with little more than ten families gathered together, with the Parish Priest. He asked me to give a short talk to the congregation while he was hearing confessions. I thought I would say something on reconciliation and forgiveness. I introduced myself as a missionary priest from the Philippines, a member of the Missionary Society of St Columban.

‘Padre’ de Pamilya

By Bernie Durangparang

The author, originally from Oslob, Cebu, is a teacher by profession but has been a member of the Columban Vocation Team for 19 years. He lives in Ozamiz City.


Bernie with Father Kurt

I recently cried at an ordination. Kurt Pala finally made his commitment at the altar as a priest on 21 November 2015. I was more than happy to have accompanied him in his discernment process since he was in 4th year high school. Truly it is a joy to be part of the vocation team for 19 years now.  The greatest moment for me at Father Kurt’s ordination was when I approached him after the ceremony to kiss his anointed hands. He instead spontaneously embraced me and whispered, ‘Salamat kaayo, Kuya’ (Thank you so much, Elder Brother’). I could only shed a tear at that humbling moment as I uttered, ‘Congratulations, Kurt. Na-pari na gyod ka. (You are now truly a priest).

Where His Heart Led Him

Ordination to the Priesthood of Fr Kurt Pala

By Mary Joy Rile

Bishop Elenito Galido of the Diocese of Iligan noted that Fr Kurt Pala was the first Columban from the diocese to be ordained. The Columbans first arrived in what is now the Diocese of Iligan in 1938 and over the years opened up most of the parishes in the diocese. The last Columban left only a few years ago.


Fr Kurt with his mother, Mrs Lilia V. Pala, and his sisters Karina Mae and Krisha Marie

I’ve known Father Kurt since I began working with Misyon in 2008. I have often asked him for photos and articles. We have been sharing each other’s journey and became prayer partners.  Attending his ordination was a grace. Knowing the struggles that he went through all these years, it was very special for me to witness his final YES to God! He recognized the feeling of fear as the day approached. ‘It is scarier than the deaconate ordination,’ he shared. ‘I’m so overwhelmed by the overflowing support, the excitement of everyone in the congregation, friends and relatives, Columban families who flew all the way from different and faraway places. It’s too much for me to contain. They expect so much from me. Can I even keep up with all of this?”  But love was greater. With the full support of his family, his love for God brought him all the way to the altar.

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