Columban lay missionary Kevin Sheerin currently is living and working in Hong Kong. While most regular activities are curtailed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Kevin has found a unique way to work with prisoners.
Right now, I am in Hong Kong, the headquarters of the Columban Mission Society. I am a member of the lay mission coordinating team working with the Son Seon-Young from South Korea and Vida Hequilan from the Philippines. Our task is to study and update our lay mission policies as well as support all the lay missionaries in the different parts of the world. Apart from that work, I personally help South American individuals that are in prison in Hong Kong for drug and other offenses. Some of those who find themselves here may not have informed their families where they were going until they got arrested here in Hong Kong. They do not know either English or Chinese and letters from their homes can take a long time to arrive. In addition to visiting them, I facilitate the communication between them and their families. They send me letters that I send to their families by WhatsApp (a social media application). Their loved ones then send me their responses by WhatsApp which I deliver to the prisoners.
On the Sunday night radio program called the “Love Hour” that is broadcast via Facebook Live, families can send real-time messages which we read “on air”. They also send voice messages that are played during the program.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. Isaiah 61:1
Columban lay missionary Kevin’s accompanying of the prisoners in Hong Kong affirms their value as human beings, helps connect them to their families and provides a concrete example of God’s love for them. I can only imagine what the prisoners must experience when they hear the voices of their loved ones on the radio program. They are far from home, imprisoned, most likely scared, and yet they can remain connected to their families.
It is only with your generous and sacrificial support that missionaries like Kevin can bring the light and love of Jesus Christ to those in prison, literal and figural, around the world today. Thank you for your continued partnership with Columban mission. We remember you gratefully in our Masses and prayers.
Gratefully Yours in Christ,
Fr. John Burger
Director, U.S. Region