Misyon Online - November-December 2013

Columbans ‘who have gone before us with the sign of faith’ - November 2012 – November 2013

To our departed brothers and sisters
And to all who were pleasing to you
At their passing from this life,
Give kind admittance to your kingdom.
(Eucharistic Prayer II)


St Columban’s Cemetery, Dalgan Park, Ireland

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Two Masses for Deceased Columbans

In this issue we feature two Masses celebrated earlier this year here in the Philippines for two deceased Irish Columban priests. One, Fr Timothy Leonard, had never set foot here and died 84 years ago in China, aged 36, the first Columban to die violently. The second, Fr Joseph Gallagher, died peacefully in Ireland at the age of 90, a man who had spent 57 years in the Philippines, most of those in Pangasinan.

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Memorial Mass For Fr Joseph Gallagher

By Fr Patrick J. Baker

‘He was... a perfect gentleman’. These words from the homily of Bishop Marlo M.

Peralta of Alaminos at a Memorial Mass for the late Fr Joseph Gallagher in Labrador, Pangasinan, echoed what everyone said about Father Joe at his funeral in Ireland, which your editor attended.

Fr Joseph Gallagher died in Ireland on 2 August at the age of 90. He had retired to Ireland in 2006, having spent 57 years in the Philippines, 22 of them in San Isidro Parish, Labrador, formerly part of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan but since 1985 part of the Diocese of Alaminos, Pangasinan.

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Memorial Mass For Fr Timothy Leonard

By Fr Pat Baker

Fr Timothy Leonard was ordained in 1918 for the Diocese of Limerick, Ireland, and joined the newly-established Society of St Columban that year. He was in the first group of Columbans to be assigned to China in 1920. He worked with Columban Co-founder Fr Edward Galvin for four years in Hanyang where Fr Galvin became the first bishop in 1927. Then he was assigned to Ireland in 1924 for two years of mission appeal work. He became a well-known figure, riding his bicycle from parish to parish in all kinds of weather.

Father Tim returned to Hanyang in 1926 and in 1928 was a member of the first group of Columbans to go to Nancheng where Columban Fr Patrick Cleary became the first bishop in 1938. While saying Mass there on the morning of 17 July 1929 a group of Communist bandits stormed into the church and attacked Fr Leonard. His vestments were torn off him, the ciborium with consecrated hosts was snatched from his hands and the hosts scattered on the floor and trampled on.

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Reflection - Suicides in Japan and God's gentleness

By Fr Barry Cairns

Fr Barry Cairns from New Zealand has been a 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.

Both parents are indeed devastated. Their sorrow was not only the sadness and loneliness of loss, but also had a background of deep felt guilt.

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Death is stark for the poor

By Sr Mary Dillon SSC

The author is a Columban Sister from Ireland. She has been in the Diocese of Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar (Burma) since 2002. She has developed a home care health program for people with HIV/AIDS and established a respite house, Home of Hope, to enable people from distant places to avail of medical care. Here she reflects on her experience of burials in Myanmar.

I was shocked when I read about the costs of funerals in Ireland. An exorbitant sum was quoted, several thousand euro (€1.00 = PHP58.00), even for a simple, ‘no frills’ burial. Many people it seems spend a long time paying off the debt. Others talked of the cost of a grave, the advantages of cremation, the necessity of a wake or a meal after the burial, and so on. It was all very sobering.

What a contrast to my experience of burials in Myitkyina, Myanmar! For the past nine years here in Myanmar I have been working with the very poor.

In the last year we buried approximately 48 patients from the 30-bed Home of Hope where I am. Most of these, men and women, died of AIDS. The majority had no one to mourn them, no family to grieve at their going.

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Some Reflections on the Community at Mass

By Rowena D Cuanico

The author, from Samar, is a former Columban Lay Missionary who served in Fiji and the Philippines. She is a frequent contributor to Misyon and other Columban magazines.


Weng with her Fijian friends

I often go to Mass at a chapel located in a shopping mall in an affluent part of town.

People are dressed nicely in fashionable clothes and shoes, carrying fashionable bags. They come mostly with their families. Some also come with their well-uniformed nannies and caregivers in tow.

Sometimes I would wonder why nannies and caregivers have to wear their uniforms. Is this to set their employers apart and bestow on them some status or prestige? Or is this to distinguish these nannies and caregivers from the rest of the congregation and assign them their place in society? I feel sad that even in a faith community where there should be ‘no more Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man’, you can still identify their positions in society simply because of the uniforms some have to wear. I can't help but wonder, is this how far we still are from the Kingdom of God whose dawning we have come to celebrate?

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