By 1929, the Columbans had been hard at work in China for nearly a decade. Tragically, that year, the first Columban martyr, Father Timothy P. Leonard died while in the captivity of Chinese kidnappers.
In spite of this atrocity, the Society was growing and the Columbans were looking to expand into other countries. Authorities in the Vatican proposed several suggestions for the Columbans, including India and Thailand.
Archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty of the Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines was dealing with a shortage of Catholic priests in that country, and consequently sent out an urgent call to the Columbans for help.
In May 1929, with the Vatican’s approval, the first three Columban Fathers arrived in the Philippines: Gerald M. Cogan, Michael Cuddigan, and Patrick Kelly.
They headed to the parish of Malate, in Manila. The Philippines is the first Asian country outside of China where the Columbans started a mission, and the Columbans would make a great deal of history there in the coming decades.