On the night of December 16, 2011, a sendong or typhoon struck the northern coast of Mindanao, the main southern island of the Philippines.
Ever since I returned to Korea, people have asked me, “How old are you?” “Why don’t you dye your gray hair?” whether I’m at the market or waiting at a bus station. And my response would be: “It has already been dyed by God, in a natural way, so why do I need to dye it?”
Going on mission to Hong Kong in 1976 was both an exciting adventure and a shock to the system. Moving from the wide-open spaces, the peace and tranquility of a small Irish town to the closely packed high-rises, the noise, the over-crowded streets, was a new experience for me.
I call this article “men of the road” because in all my years in Japan, only one woman came to me looking for a handout. I was once advised to refuse all such requests for three months after I went into a new parish, or I would end up with an endless stream of petitioners asking for money.
The Paris Foreign Mission Society handed over pastoral responsibility for Jeju Island to the Columban Fathers in 1933. At that time it had two small parishes, one in the north and one in the south of the island.
Over the course of nearly 100 years, Columban missionaries have been caught up in major wars and insurrections in the countries where we live and serve. Columbans and other missionaries have grappled with the question to go or stay in times of crisis.
St. Columban, a great Irish missionary monk, died in 615 A.D. in Bobbio, Italy. Columban missionaries (who have St. Columban as their patron) have worked in Fiji since 1952.
A few years ago my priest companion in the Columban international seminary in Chicago, Fr. Leo Distor, and I were invited to join a pilgrimage in the footsteps of St. Columban.
Thinking back on my life in South Korea, there was the humdrum of daily living along with surprises and the excitement that went with being part of new things happening and those challenges.