One of the many joys of being a Columban lay missionary is the joy of entering into a new culture and sharing my faith and experience with the people, while at the same time learning so much more from them in return.
Let us begin with a story: Equally qualified, Carmen and Diane both sought employment with the same local company. Both prayed to God for help, and the company granted both women interviews.
Columban lay missionary, Liliani Maafu, shared the story of what happened while traveling to work in a jeepney (bus). Originally from the kingdom of Tonga, Liliani was assigned to the Philippines in 2015 where she began a six month course studying the Cebuano language.
Danger at Sea
In 1986, when I was in the process of learning Cantonese, a Hong Kong friend took me to Mong Kok on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong where, for the first time, I saw sex workers waiting on the streets for clients.
The work of the Columbans over the last 65 years has been blessed by the presence of diocesan priests (associates) who contract with the Missionary Society of St. Columban for a period of six or more years.
I was born in a predominantly Christian city in the Philippines. Iligan City is about an hour’s drive from Marawi City, a city that was declared as the “Islamic City of the South Philippines.” Growing up, I had a few Muslim classmates, and we were good friends.
Four Columbans, John Casey, Patrick Ronan, Owen O’Kane and Patrick Reilly, all attached to the Huchow mission in the Chinese Province of Chekiang, were arrested by the Communist authorities on the same day in 1952. Transferred to Kashing jail, they spent the next sixteen months in solitary. Here are some extracts about their experiences, as related in the book, But Not Conquered.
I came home for my highly anticipated home vacation in April 2018 after spending the last three years in Chile, feeling incredibly excited to be back among my family and friends. I must admit that I had mixed feelings about reintegrating myself back amongst my family.
“People think pleasing God is all God cares about, but any fool in the world can see he is always trying to please us back…always making little surprises and springing them on us when we least expect it.” (Alice Walker, The Color Purple.)
The easiest way for me to write about prayer is to speak of my own journey with God. I say this because prayer is a particular experience for each person. It is an experience of a conscious relationship with God that has all the ups and downs of any other relationship.
There used to be a kind of joke going around that said, “As long as there are algebra exams, there will be prayer in the public schools.” Algebra is important, but I think prayer is of even greater importance. Communicating with our Creator gives us dignity and nobility.
Here at St. Columban’s, people do contact us often to offer prayers of intercession particularly when they feel desperate. And recently I had the experience of having a woman I was introduced to as a Columban thank me profusely for praying for her son who had been near death and recovered. The medical situation had been grave, but her prayer was answered. The experience has given her a new perspective on what her definition of a “real disaster” is. Having been so close to losing her precious boy, she is no longer impressed by something as inconsequential as a flooded basement.