The destruction and horrors of the Second World War ravaged many countries, and in the late 1940s the world was still dealing with the aftermath of the war. Nonetheless, the island nation of Japan, as one of the principal participants in World War II, had been particularly hard hit. The Columban Fathers saw an opportunity to spread the Gospel and establish a new mission in this rebuilding country. The Columbans were already fairly familiar with Japan.
The Columbans in China, together with the entire Chinese people, rejoiced at the end of World War II, which had caused so much death and devastation in that country. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter the civil war between Chinese Nationalists and Communists, which was going on before World War II, resumed with a vengeance. By 1947, the Communists, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, were advancing and taking control of large regions of China.
In early 1946, the Columban Fathers, along with most of the world, were still recovering and rebuilding from the devastation of the Second World War. The war had taken the lives of a number of Columbans, and many others had been through imprisonment or were forced to flee their missions. Columban Father Patrick J. O’Connor had a great deal of experience in journalism and writing, having served as editor of the U.S.
By 1945, after unimaginable loss of life and property, the Second World War was at long last nearing its end. But the fighting was still killing people all over the world, and the Columban Fathers would not escape this bloodshed. In February 1945, the Philippines in general and the capital city of Manila in particular were a central battleground, as Allied troops and Filipino guerillas battled to defeat the occupying Japanese forces.
As World War II raged all across the world in the 1940s, Columbans in their various Asian mission countries were caught in the crossfire, sometimes literally. The Japanese-occupied nation of Burma (Myanmar) was one of the central battlegrounds of the Allied war effort. An important part of this effort was the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.), which after the war would evolve into the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.). At the time the O.S.S.
In 1943, the U.S. Columban Fathers marked their 25th anniversary. They had many accomplishments of which to be proud, and many things of which to be fearful and uncertain. The Second World War was wreaking havoc all over the globe, and no end was in sight. East Asia, the heart of the Columban missions, was also a major front in the war. In July 1943, Japanese forces in the Philippines would martyr Columban Father Francis V.
As World War II raged overseas, the Columbans in the U.S.A. tried to carry on and support their missions as best they could. The Society was trying to expand its presence in southern California, particularly after the Diocese of San Diego “spun off” from the Los Angeles Diocese in July 1936. In 1942 Columban Father John M. McFadden, a Cleveland, Ohio native and U.S.
Since their inception, the Columban Fathers had maintained their Irish seminary and headquarters, Dalgan Park, at Shrule, County Mayo, in western Ireland. Columban co-founder Father John Blowick had always wished to establish a Columban presence in or near the Irish capital of Dublin. Unfortunately, due to some political issues with the Catholic hierarchy of Dublin, the Columbans had been unable to do so.
The year 1940 marked the twentieth anniversary of the presence of the Columban Fathers in China. Along with the Columban Sisters, who first arrived in China in 1926, they had achieved a great deal. As it happened, 1940 would be a momentous year for the Columbans in China. In 1940, a Columban hospital opened in Nancheng, China, and the Columban Sisters continued their lifesaving work at their medical dispensary.
In the late 1930s, the Columbans were discussing the possibility of establishing a presence in the state of California. In the summer of 1939 they dedicated their new house in San Diego, and were in the process of putting down roots in Los Angeles. Around this time, Columban Father John F. Cowhig, who had served in Hanyang, brought up the idea of a Columban Catholic Chinese Center to cater to Chinese immigrants in southern California.