May-June 2002

Tears Were Shed In Candoni

By Fr Niall O’Brien MSSC

When I came first to the island of Negros, nearly forty years ago now, Candoni was one of the remotest towns in Negros. It was a grueling two-hour journey into the mountains from Kabankalan. You had a choice: to go via Salong and Tapi or via Dancalan and Tabo. Either way it was a long journey and a hard road which reminded one in parts of pictures of the surface of the moon. The young priests have it a lot easier nowadays. I recall going there by bus and frequently deciding to travel on the roof, seated on sacks of rice or fertilizer rather than the cramped quarters inside. The only problem was that when we passed under trees we sometimes had to lie out flat lest we be swept off the roof by a low lying branch. As we approached a townlet we had to climb in through the windows while the bus was still moving because it was illegal to be traveling on the roof. My short stay in Candoni was caused by the fact that Fr. Eugene McGeough, the parish priest, was away on holidays in Ireland and I was to take his place.

Mission Brought Me Home

By Christine Ortaliz

Columban lay missionary Christine Ortaliz shares with us the challenge of adjusting to a new culture. We see something of the marvelous benefits of living for a period in a cross-cultural situation. It was during her stay in Taiwan that she finally came to grips with her own identity.

I’ll Meet You At Mariamabad

By Seamus O’Leary

Mariamabad is the place to go if you want to meet Catholics in Pakistan. Seamus O’Leary, a Columban lay missionary, took part in the annual pilgrimage to its famous Shrine of Our Lady last year. It was an interesting mix of faith, devotion, fun and business.

The annual pilgrimage to the Marian Shrine in Mariamabad in Pakistan took place last year from 10thto the 12th of September. It is about 100 kms from the city of Labore. Several people from there walk or cycle to the shrine for this occasion. Many others do so from even further afield. It takes five days of strong cycling, in scorching late-summer heat, to make it from Karachi. Anyway I opted for the cycle from Shadbagh with a group of young men I had gotten to know over the previous months.

Remembering Pinatubo

By Fr Frank O’Kelly MSSC

More than ten years have passed since the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo but for me the memory of that terrible day is still very vivid.

On Philippine Independence Day, Wednesday, June 12, 1991 I attended an ecumenical service in the town plaza of Cabangan.  At around nine in the morning I returned home to write a letter to the former parish priest, Fr Malcolm Sherrard who had been assigned home to New Zealand.

The Prostitutes Will Go Into Heaven Before Us

Sr Angela Battung RGS

Sr Angela Battung, RGS has been a missionary most of her life. Now in Canada with older people, she looks back on her difficult years in Korea and the frustrating ministries she was involved in. Strangely enough it was at work with the prostitutes that grace almost became tangible and it was this work which she remembers with joy.

One of my first ministries in Korea was probably the most frustrating in my life. It was at a large American Base. I worked at the Chaplain’s office as a marriage counselor to American airmen marrying Korean women. Actually my work was to prepare the couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. The women mostly were bar girls or prostitutes who wanted to go to the land of “unimagined wealth and luxury” or they just wanted free access to PX (imported) goods. The men were no better. Mostly they were those who never went to Mass or Services and cursed freely, hanging out at the Air Base Main Gate or the periphery. Some wanted to marry anyone they could use for black market. “We need an Asian, preferably Korean for the family whore house. Korean women are exotic spice for the flesh trade,” they would say. They had a variety of reasons for marrying. Some disgusting, others unbelievable, most were ‘business deals’. They were going to use each other. They both knew it, but who cared anyway? As long as they made money out of the union!

Holy Fools

By Jim Forest

Few taunts are sharper than those that call into question someone’s sanity. Yet there are saints whose acts of witness to the Gospel fly in the face of what most of us regard as sanity. TheRussian Church has a special word for such saints, yurodivi, meaning holy fools or fools for Christ’s sake.

While there is much variety among them, holy fools are in every case ascetic Christians living outside the border of conventional social behavior – people who in most parts of the developed world would be locked away in asylums or ignored until the elements silenced them.

Perhaps there is a sense in which each and every saint, even those who were scholars, would be regarded as insane by many in the modern world because of their devotion to a way of life that was completely senseless apart from the Gospel. Every saint is troubling. Every saint reveals some of our fears and makes us question our fear-driven choices.

Ghana Won’t Run Out Of Angels

By Sr Rowena S. Cardinoza SSPS

It has been five years since I first came to Ghana. I am assigned here in West GonjaHospital in the accounting department. It is the only hospital in the whole district. The West Gonja District is interestingly the largest district in Ghana, over 130 kms away from the district capital Damongo. As an agency hospital, it is assisted partly by the government.

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.

If There Was Hell…I Was Already There

By Marco Mura

Four years ago to this very day I was holed up in a dark motel room that the roaches had claimed for their own.  This sort of environment was nothing new to me.  I had walked away from a beautiful wife, two beautiful children, a beautiful home, a job, friends – everything.  I had traded it all in for a bag of dope and a needle.  I no longer believed in God or worshiped him.  Instead I worshiped the heroin and the needle that delivered it.  In reality what they delivered was a close brush with death and the prison cell I now call home – my only home, for there is no other.I never knew my father, who was Irish.  My stepfather was Italian and my mother was Greek, so I learned the traditions of the Orthodox faith.  But our primary religion was Catholic.  I went to St. Jospeh’s, a Catholic grade school in New York City.  I loved it there because the nuns and everyone else were very kind to me.  They knew my home was a painful place.  During gym they could see the bruises and cigarette burns on my arms and legs.  I carry scars from the burns to this day.

A Dragon Not For The Killing

By Brendan Lovett

Fr. Brendan Lovett was interviewed by the Far East on his book A dragon not for the killing. Fr. Lovett is one of the leading theologians in Asia and this study on his thoughts on ‘consumerism’ will reward the reader with some very valuable insights. You may have to read it twice carefully, but it is worth it.

Q: What are the main issues you address in your most recent book ‘A Dragon not of the Killing?’

A: There is really only one issue unifying the whole book. It is the effort to clarify authentic human development. For over 30 years I have grown in the conviction that the meaning given to development in our times is deeply mistaken. We have mis-defined what is humanly desirable. The prevailing ‘wisdom’ about how to achieve happiness and fulfillment is mistaken.

Made In Hong Kong

Over 120,000 Filipinos work in Hong Kong.  Before the British left in 1997 there were many European officials who needed nannies and household help and were willing to pay good wages and give good conditions.  That has changed now that Hong Kong has reverted to China.  Life has become harder but that message has not got back to the Philippines.  Sr.  Leticia Bartolome, ICM who has worked there for years sends a letter to a friend and tries to change her mind about coming to Hong Kong.

We would like to thank Sr. Leticia for accommodating our request to print her name despite her original request to withhold it.  We salute her for this brave article.

Dear Eva,

Peace to you and all your loved ones!  Thank you for writing and for the trust that you gave me in sharing your hopes and aspirations for the future.  But I am really very sorry to disappoint you, in the same way that I have disappointed so many others who have written me for help to find jobs for them here in Hong Kong.

Dad, It’s Ok To Cry

By Ma Teresita R. Santiago

Tes Santiago’s mother is an avid supporter of Misyon so Tes has come to love the magazine.  Because of the many inspiring stories Misyon has featured, Tes has been dreaming of becoming a missionary herself – and she is still praying about it.  Meantime, she wants to share her own story…

I Crossed The Bridge And I Got There…

By Sr Ma. Luisa Tomaro OND

Three years ago, Sr. Luisa arrived in the tropical jungles of Papua New Guinea. She is presently handling family life and catechetical ministry in the parish of Daru. One of their regular activities is ‘patrolling’ – they go from village to village preparing the people for Baptism, Confession, First Communion or Marriage. Here she tells how she has come to cross the bridge of ethnic differences.

To Search is to find

We do not have the answers to every question – but the very asking of the question is the beginning of the answer. So why don’t you send us your questions and let us together find the answers to our questions.


I know a member of a Catholic organization who runs a lending company which works like a 5-6. They are good leaders in our community but I understand that this is against the Church teachings.

The Bible forbids the lending of money with interest. But that was at a time when money had a stable value. Today the value of money changes so that if I lend you P10,000.00 today, next year when you give it back to me it will actually only be worth maybe P9,000.00 in terms of the goods it can buy or in terms of rice. So the Church does allow interest to be taken on a loan. That interest should not be excessive and it is to be judged by several factors. One important factor is the RISK involved. If there is no collateral then the lender runs the risk of losing everything and sometimes does. Hence he or she makes up for it by increasing the interest. Another factor is to ask what is the prevailing interest at that time and place. What is very wrong is to take advantage of people’s illness or otherwise to lend them money on a land title with an exorbitant interest rate and deliberately use that to get the land from them. This happened a lot in the Marcos years in the rural parts of the Philippines and was one of the factors that drove the revolution. Now to your friends we should be slow to judge and you would have to be quite sure that you really have the true details. People are inclined to give only their side of the story.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

Which is Which

Trying to welcome a group of elders who came to see me in my hometown during my last vacation I pulled out a bottle which I though was the lambanog whisky given to me by my benefactors in Baguio. Everybody was commenting that the drink was perfect. It was their first time to taste such. The following day, as I was preparing for the Mass, I discovered the bottle I had offered was the Mass wine. It was the bottle nicely covered with red Japanese paper, similar to the cover of the lambanogbottle. What a costly mistake. And no, I did not use the lambanog for the Mass.