All Souls

AllSouls2Each fall, as Columban missionaries, we prepare for the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls by lifting up in prayer all those who have gone before us. In thanksgiving, we celebrate their lives and bear witness to their many acts of courage, service and sacrifice. The constancy of their faith and dedication to their ministries gives us pause to reflect upon the mystery of our shared missionary vocation.

To make your and our prayers more specific, we encourage you to send us your intentions below:

Send Us Your Intentions

All Souls

Intentions with a Donation

All Souls Intention with a Donation

In 1967, Columban Father Charles Duster experienced what he calls a “near encounter” with the Lord while visiting our missions in the Philippines. Allow me share a part of his story with you:

It was a missionary’s dream vacation for a Columban classmate and me. Little did we imagine that it would bring us within minutes of meeting our Maker! While visiting the island of Negros with my travel companion Jim, I learned that fellow Columban, Father Mickey Martin, was in the hospital recovering from hepatitis. Naturally we felt duty-bound to visit him. As any Columban will tell you, Mickey is “a talker.” Over the years, he has perfected the Irish penchant for telling a good story in colorful, though somewhat extended fashion. Because of his gift of the gab, our stay at the hospital lasted far longer than expected.

Jim and I finally arrived at the tiny Bacolod airport at 5:32 p.m. to catch the 25-minute flight to the neighboring island of Cebu. Even though the plane was on the runaway, just 20 or so yards from the gate and its door still open, the ticket agent refused to let us board. Take off was originally scheduled for 5:45 p.m., however, the pilot had decided to depart 15 minutes early because of the weather. Somewhat disgruntled, we headed back to town to spend the night.

The next morning at breakfast, the hotel manager came over to our table and asked, “Weren’t you two priests supposed to be on the flight to Cebu last night?” We replied, “Yes, but we missed the flight by two minutes.” “Well thank God you did! The plane crashed into a mountain, and all aboard were killed.”

young-fr-charlieWe later learned that Jim and I were not the only ones to miss that fatal flight. There was one other last-minute cancellation. A Filipina passenger had seen the original manifest that showed two foreign priests booked for the flight. When we failed to appear, she got off the plane and cancelled her ticket. Apparently, she viewed our absence as a bad omen. Call it faith or superstition— whatever it was, it saved her life.

So what did I learn from that “near encounter” with the Lord? First —that God must have wanted us to stay around for a while longer, so use that time well. Second — that if things don’t always go as you plan or expect, God probably has His own plan. And finally — don’t rush to catch a plane or a train or a bus. If you miss it, you probably weren’t supposed to be on it anyway. Three lessons learned that fateful day and followed ever since.

We were stunned by the news and the realization that we had come so close to dying. After a minute’s reflection, Jim remarked, “Thank the Lord Mickey Martin was a talker, or we’d be having breakfast with St. Peter this morning.”

I’m happy to say that today Father Charles Duster lives and works in St. Columbans, Nebraska. Nearly 50 years after that crash, Father Duster continues to remember those who perished in his prayers just as we remember you and your loved ones during this blessed season of remembrance.

I share Father Duster’s recollection with you today because stories such as these are all too often hidden away or forgotten. And yet, they have the power to inspire others now and in the generations to come. You and others like you have your own stories, and they are what inspire us today.

In gratitude for all you do for us, Columban priests will offer 100 special Masses for you and your intentions during the month of November. Please use the enclosed slip to return to us the names of your deceased or ill loved ones. We will place your intentions on the altar here at St. Columbans Chapel throughout the month of the Holy Souls.

To make your and our prayers more specific, we encourage you to send us your intentions below:

Send Us Your Intentions

All Souls

Intentions with a Donation

All Souls Intention with a Donation