July-August 2004

The Vanishing Tree

Father ‘Bong’ Suñaz, now back in the Philippines after serving in East Timor, tells us of the decline of the sandalwood tree in that country before it became independent of Indonesia in 2002.

I remember a beautiful song entitled SANDALWOOD in catechism class back in Manila two decades ago. I still hum it sometimes now and I realize that the place mentioned in that song is the island of Timor, or so I think. I once had the chance to talk about the tree with the head of the Department of Forestry and he said that in Timor the sandalwood tree grows wild, unlike in India and China real plantations were created for economical reasons. He said that most probably during the colonial times of the Portuguese, seedlings of this tree were brought to Goad in Macao hundreds of years before which were also under the colonial Portugal. The tree grows both in the East and West Timor. It is called Cami in Tetun, the local language of Cendana, in Bahasa, Indonesia.

‘Unless The Church Becomes Young, It May Not Attract Youth’

An interview with Cora Mateo, Asia Youth Day pioneer

BANGALORE, India (UCAN) -- Young Catholics in Asia is not leaving the Church, but the Church is keeping distant from them, says the former executive secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) Office of Laity.

Cora Mateo from the Philippines was very involved in the beginnings of Asian Youth Day (AYD), a biennial gathering of Catholic youth from Asian countries. UCA News interviewed her in Bangalore,India, 2,060 kilometers south of New Delhi, during the third AYD celebration, held Aug. 9-15. The first two were held in 1999 in Thailand and in 2001 in Taiwan.

In Him Alone

By Noe Hijara Pedrajas

It was the summer of 1990, fiesta day in our barrio, when my best friend died of leukemia. He was only 27, I was 12. Every time I remember that sad day, I feel like crying, though I try to hide my pain with a smile. He was my best friend, so loving, so dear to me. He seemed to possess everything I could want in a friend. He would hug me whenever I felt alone. He was fun to be with. He would defend me against the taunts of others. He was creative and helped me with my school projects. I remember in sixth grade our class was assigned to make a bamboo vase. Not even my father knew how to make one. I didn’t know what to do. My best friend came to my rescue and helped me fashion it.

Service In Love Through The Years

By Sister Mary Florence del Mundo SSpS

A tiny seed planted as a dispensary in a suburb of Mumbai (Bombay), India, in 1966, became Holy Spirit Hospital in 1967 with 65 beds. It was then popularly known as ‘The Jungle Hospital’ since it was surrounded by heavy jungle. Today that tiny seed has grown and spread its branches, standing proudly as a modern, well-organized and full-fledged 280-bed general hospital, catering to the comprehensive health care of around two million people.

A Background To Patenting Of Life

By Sean McDonagh SSC

Patents give an exclusive right to an inventor to make or sell an invention for about 20 years. To be patentable an invention must be novel, inventive and serve some useful purpose. Patents have been around since the fifteenth century but until 22 years ago these criteria excluded living organisms. These were always regarded as discoveries of nature, and therefore unpatentable.

Door-To-Door – From Hong Kong With Love

Sr Leticia Bartolome ICM

Are you going 'door-to-door?’ A question Filipino migrant worker often asks one another. A positive reply gets a second question: ‘Jumbo, regular, half or bulilit?’ What funny and strange names, I thought. One night, coming home from a meeting with the board and staff of the Asian Migrant Centre here in Hong Kong, I felt exhausted and fell into a deep sleep. It was then that I met Jumbo, Regular, Half and Bulilit in a dream. We talked for a long time.

‘When You Learn, Teach; When You Get, Give’

By Nicholas Murray

Nicholas Murray went to Chinaafter serving for 12 years as Superior General of the Missionary Society of St Columban.

I’ve been teaching English in a university in Chongging in southwest China since September 2002. I chose to work in this part of China because it is somewhat less developed than the east and the government is now making efforts to develop the west. Chongging is at the center of that effort. I teach Oral English and a course in Western Culture for AB students majoring in English. The latter course in particular affords great scope for communicating values, with topics such as the Bible and Christianity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance and Reformation, to name but a few.

A Step Forward

By Apryl Gretchen Cofin

When I was young, my mom brought me to Mass every Sunday, though I didn’t know what was going on. During my elementary days, I sometimes felt forced by her to go. Because Mom was a catechist I felt very ashamed if we, her own family, didn’t attend any church activities.  Maybe that’s why I went every Sunday without conviction and didn’t pray sincerely.

Witnessing To The Flame Within

Four Columban lay missionaries now in their third year in Korea share their reflections as they began their mission there.

Cristina B. Simpron

They say ‘You don’t have to be rich in order to give. All you have to do is to be good; the person who is good can always find something to give.’ When I remember these words, which became the inspiration of my vocation, I also remember other lay people working in the church. I have seen their dedication, the simplicity of their lives and I admire them very much. They are catechists and parish workers whom I have been privileged to help. I can say I have a passion for working with young people.  They have given me the capacity to learn many things about life and love. I believe in the capacity of young people to be agents of love, peace and transformation in society and the Church.