St. Luke’s Catechists’ School, Myiktyina, Myanmar
Founded by Columban Fr. Bernard Wade in 1939, St. Luke’s can boast of 700 graduates, of whom 417 have worked in remote areas which are often the center of political violence. Despite all these risks, many young people continue to volunteer for this ministry.
Five of their number have borne witness to their faith through their blood (all were killed by the Burmese army, as the catechists attempted to protect their people ): Paul Dashi Zau Hkrim (d. 1971 at Tayan Zup village, Tanghpre Parish, Myitkyina diocese); Lamung La (d. 1964 at Nan Hpu village, Tanai parish, Myitkyina); Mali La Awng and Ulam La Awng (d. 1975 at Htingraw village, Kachyi Htu parish, Myitkyina Diocese); and finally Nlum Zau Ra (d.1975 at Maru Kawng village, Kachyi Htu Parish.)
Columbans have been helping finance the running of the school since its inception.
We would like to offer the following testimonies of three present students of St. Luke’s as why our help is so important to those brave young people.
Lazing Theresa Bawk Nan – “A Wounded Healer”
“I am from Je Yang, Laiza. My father and mother are famers, and I am the second of four children in the family. I lived in a serene village provided with all natural beauty and resources for our people. Our village had over 60 houses. This was shattered by war between Kachin insurgents and the government of Myanmar, which began in 1962.
This time (since 2011), the war has been particularly cruel. It has displaced thousands. I myself have come from an Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camp. Many people have been killed and wounded, and we lost our land, houses and cattle. My father was shot by the Burmese military. He was hit in the legs. He is now handicapped and cannot work well.
After fleeing our village to different places, our extended family could contact each other after some time. Now all of us are united at the Je Yang IDP camp, where in the boarding house supported by the Columban Fathers, I passed Grade Ten. Wishing to contribute to my community, I joined the catechetical school last year where I am gaining skills in teaching catechism, arranging liturgical celebrations and imparting the social teaching of the Church.
I am happy the Church reopened a catechetical school for our people because I wanted to become a grassroots community faith leader. We will need to help the resettlement of the people, work for peace, healing of trauma and drug addiction.
Joseph Nhkum Tang Gun – “Thirsting for Spiritual Waters”
I am Joseph. Originally I come from Nam San Yang Parish. At present my family is living in the Je Yang IDP camp. We are nine in my family, and I am the fifth son. I always wanted to serve my church. This dream was fulfilled last year. As soon as I heard about the reopening of the St. Luke’s Catechetical school in Myitkyina, I was so excited.
I know I am still weak in faith. I need to have formation for myself first. I can see that my family, friends and community need strong faith. We are living risky lives without any guidance for the future. As a people we thirst for spiritual waters.
Columban WoHtong Hkawng Lum – “In The Footsteps of the Columban Missionaries”
My name is Columban. I am named after the great Columban missionaries who evangelized our land. I have four brothers and two sisters. I am the oldest son in my family. I have my own family too – two daughters, two sons and my wife. I am from Wai Maw Parish.
When I was young I wanted to become a famous singer. Later on, I saw the reality of my people so my desire changed, and I wanted to become a priest. But I knew that was not my vocation. In 2003 I became inspired to attend the catechetical school, but I did not have any opportunity. I had to wait for God’s plan for me. I thank God! Now I am a Catechetical student at St. Luke’s. I cannot be a priest, but I can serve God as a community faith leader.
St. Luke’s is like a garden for the Kachin people of Myitkyina, Banmaw and Lashio. I have improved a lot in this garden in my life and thinking. Day by day I have become more mature and have gained skills to combat the social evil in my country. The flowers and fruit formed in St. Luke’s garden are going to decorate the world for the glory of God.
The article and photos were provided by the Columban Myanmar team.