Many of the ideas for this column come during the time when I am visiting other Columbans in the U.S. and sometimes when I’m on an airplane at 39,000 feet! Every summer Columbans are invited to parishes in dioceses throughout the country to share our stories and ask for prayerful and financial support during mission appeals. It’s a great opportunity for us to meet many of you when we do these appeals in your local communities.
Like anything else in life, mission is not without risks. One of our longest serving missionaries in the Philippines, Fr. Michael Sinnott, was kidnapped and held for a month, and then released unharmed in 2009. Fr. Mick spent 58 years as a missionary in the Philippines before retiring to Ireland this year. He witnessed people living in dire economic poverty, armed conflicts and the daily struggles of a people without much hope for the future. During mission appeals, I always request prayers for our missionaries, seminarians, lay employees and all who work with the Columbans.
John Wang Zongshe and Joseph Li Jiangan are the first seminarians from China to join the Columbans, and they attend the Columban seminary in the Philippines. After a year studying English in Manila, they have just begun their spiritual formation year in Cubao, Quezon City. They recently wrote about their experience on Negros
As a Columban seminarian, I don’t think it was our spoken languages that united us in our hearts but our sincerity. We had many weaknesses and limitations but these couldn’t stop us from loving one another. We didn’t expect to get something from the people but simply wanted to be with them and accompany them on their spiritual journey. The key to crossing cultural boundaries is to have a genuine heart, a humble spirit and a devoted mind. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, may Jesus’ mission of proclaiming God’s kingdom be done by the will of the Father through our hands.
We continue to learn from and be enriched by the people we serve around the world. It is indeed our privilege.