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By Fr Seán Coyle

Co-founders Fr Edward Galvin and Fr John Blowick (seated) with Fr Owen McPolin, China 1920

On Sunday 9 October this year 31 priests and 16 lay missionaries went to Tagaytay City for a two-week meeting of Columbans under the age of 50. Among them was our Superior General, Fr Kevin O’Neill, who in a recent letter wrote: On 9 October 1916, in a ground-floor room of the main college building at Maynooth [St Patrick's College, the National Seminary of Ireland], the 28-year-old Fr John Blowick had the nerve to face the Standing Committee of the Irish Bishops and to present his and Fr Edward Galvin’s scheme for a new mission. After about half an hour’s talk with the bishops, [Michael] Cardinal Logue [Archbishop of Armagh] said that they were prepared to grant their approval for the two things Blowick requested, namely, the making of a collection in the country and the foundation of a Mission College in Ireland.

A Columban Centennial on 10 October

Frs Edward Galvin, John Blowick, Owen McPolin, China 1920
Fr McPolin led the first group of Columbans to Korea in 1933

One hundred years ago on 10 October the Bishops of Ireland gave their blessing to a new venture known as the Maynooth Mission to China. On 29 June 1918 this venture became the Society of St Columban, in the Diocese of Galway, Ireland. The Missionary Society of St Columban, as it is now known, is already preparing to celebrate its Centennial in 2018.

‘Let’s go to the Archbishop’

This issue highlights a number of joyful events for Columbans. We thank God for the 100 years of life that God has given Fr Daniel Fitzgerald and wish him many more years among us. Father Dan is the last of the Irish ‘old China hands’ who worked in that great country before all missionaries were expelled in the early 1950s. He served there under our Co-founder Bishop Edward Galvin.


‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’ (Martin Luther King, 28 August 1963) [Video of full speech here. Text here.]

Martin Luther King delivered his famous ‘I have a dream speech’ in a particular context. Some southern states of the USA still practiced segregation, ie, separate facilities for white and black people, those for the latter always inferior. This had its origins in the history of slavery in the Americas, the original slaves having been brought from West Africa.

‘He is risen, as he said, Alleluia’

Natanuku catechist with grandchild in front of collapsed bure

‘We have to care in a special way for children and for grandparents. Children and young people are the future; they are our strength; they are what keep us moving forward. They are the ones in whom we put our hope. Grandparents are a family’s memory. They are the ones who gave us the faith, they passed the faith on to us.’

‘The life and death of each of us has its influence on others’

Fr Geoffrey Revatto

As I was preparing to put the obituary of Columban Fr Geoffrey Revatto online I was struck by the words of Fr Donal Hogan during his funeral homily: 'The life and death of each of us has its influence on others' (Romans 14:7). Father Geoff touched the lives of so many people – especially the poor in Negros, I think in particular of the parish of Sipalay which had been without a resident priest for 50 years till he arrived in the early 1950's.

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Rabbi Zalman Kastel, Sheikh Wesarn Charkawi and Fr Patrick McInerney after the Martin Place Siege, Sydney, December 2014

Columban Interreligious Dialogue Website

Recently the Missionary Society of St Columban launched a new website, www.columbanIRD.org, that is devoted to Interreligious Dialogue (IRD). The website describes interreligious dialogue in the words of Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze as ‘a meeting of people of differing religions, in an atmosphere of freedom and openness, in order to listen to the other, to try to understand that person’s religion, and hopefully to seek possibilities of collaboration.  It is hoped that the other partner will reciprocate, because dialogue should be marked by a two-way and not a one-way movement.  Reciprocity is in the nature of dialogue.  There is give and take.  Dialogue implies both receptivity and active communication.’

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On 26 April, Good Shepherd Sunday, Pope Francis ordained 19 priests for the Diocese of Rome. In his homily he said: ‘And this is the nourishment of the People of God; that your sermons are not boring; that your own homilies reach people's hearts because they come from your heart, because what you are saying is truly what you have in your heart. So give the Word of God, and thus your doctrine will be joy and support for the faithful of Christ; the scent of your life will be the testimony, because the example builds.’

Bust of Fr Michael Donoher