The Missionary Society of Saint Columban originated in Ireland and the Hibernian influence on the Columbans remained strong. Nonetheless, countries such as Australia and the U.S. were also important parts of the Columban organization.
In 1931, a newly-ordained Columban, Father Patrick A. Gately departed for his first mission assignment in China. The Brooklyn-born Father Gately was noteworthy because he was the first Columban student from the U.S.A., having entered the Columban seminary at Bellevue, Nebraska on July 2, 1921.
Somewhat ironically, Father Gately was actually ordained in Ireland at Dalgan Park in Galway in December 1930.
He served in China, specifically Shanghai and Nancheng, from 1931 to 1950, when the new communist regime of China expelled him from the country. For the rest of his career, Father Gately did promotional, pastoral, and chaplain work in his native U.S.A., including in Los Angeles.
He died in April 1986 in his 80s. Father Gately was a groundbreaker, even if he did not intend to be.
His example paved the way for many more Columban vocations from the U.S.A.