You Can Make a Difference:
Columban Fr. Tomas King grew up on a farm in West Ireland, the fifth of eight children, in a traditional Irish Catholic family. Fr. Tomas' mother received Columban Mission magazine, and even at a very young age he was very interested in those missionary stories! Later, as a young man interested in going to other countries, his missionary vocation was strong and strongly supported by his family.
As a seminary student, Fr. Tomas was assigned to Pakistan for two years. He was the only seminarian in his class who wrote down a preference for Pakistan. After ordination, he asked to return to Pakistan. Recently, Fr. Tomas visited the Columban missionaries in St. Columbans, Neb., and shared a few of his thoughts about Pakistan, his work and the mission there:
"I've been there through the first Gulf War in 1991 which caused a lot of tension in Pakistan. I was there during the second Gulf War, during 9/11, the Afghan war, Iraq war, numerous natural disasters, including very bad flooding and other strenuous moments. Sometimes you forget what this is doing to you!
Our focus has been very much in the poor parishes and focusing primarily on the Christian community. Projects like the health projects, education projects, do also benefit the poor Hindu's and Muslims. The Christian community is not allowed to participate in the ordinary, everyday social interaction. In some ways it's because they are Christian or because of the work that they do, but sometimes it's both. The laborers in the fields that work for the big landlords are bound to the landlord because they are in debt to him. They're a smaller group within the church. They would also come from a family, lower class, Hindu background so because of that, they would also be considered outsiders. However, many have become Christian because that's what they've chosen to do. In many ways, life would have become easier for them if they were a Muslim in Pakistan. One of the reasons people convert to Christianity is because of the inclusive message of Jesus. His message that all are welcome brought them to the Church.
So now despite persecution and discrimination, nobody wants to become Muslim and nobody wants to leave the Christian faith. They have a strong identity, and they are proud to be who they are. They endure a lot of discrimination. The Muslim law has been very, very difficult for them with a lot of false accusations that has resulted in many people being killed. But still, they are Christians and that's what they want to be.
I suppose the thing that challenges me and inspires me in my missionary work, is that the people who suffer the most are so resilient. In spite of everything, they continue to live and try to survive, to be resilient, to live that resilience, and continue on in spite of their struggles. The struggle now would be for themselves but also for the future generations. They would be making life easier than it is now, making life easier for the future generations. My experience is that the Christians may be poor and they may be oppressed, but their faith gives them hope and motivates them to endure."
As we enter into Lent, a time for reflection, sacrifice and preparation before the celebration of Easter, I would like to ask for your prayers and financial support for the Columban missionaries not only in Pakistan but also around the world. I have enclosed a separate folder detailing some of the Columban ministries in Pakistan. As Fr. Tomas expressed, living, working and witnessing to the Good News in Pakistan is hard, difficult work. I worry about him and all of the Columban missionaries in Pakistan. And yet, I know that the work there is some of the most important work that missionaries are doing today.
Thank you for your sacrificial support of our work in areas that can be hostile to Christians and not popular politically. Thank you for supporting your brothers and sisters in Christ. Your partnership means more than you know.
Gratefully Yours in Christ,
Fr. Tim Mulroy
Director, U.S. Region