I once knew a priest who was the life of the party but prone to take over any party he attended. Most people enjoyed his company, but he was also said by many to "have a great welcome for himself."
The following is an account of a visit by Columban Fr. Seung Won Joseph and some Korean youth – including Columban candidates and seminarians – to a number of Columban parishes in Fiji during July 2016.
We began our first full day at Navala village, which is an inland mountaintop area of Christ the King Parish, Ba, on the Western side of Fiji's main island. Navala was sweet. We were so tired after the long trip from Korea, but it was still "sweet"— not in the sense of "candy-sweet," but the feeling of peace—like a part of heaven.
The Ocean's (Atlantic) Influence Island life is shaped by the ocean. The weather determines whether you can cross to the island from the mainland, a jetty at São Tomé de Paripe, and the tides determine when people can cross from the community of Praia Grande to the community of Santana, and from Santana to the community of Nossa Senhora das Neves. The church of Nossa Senhora das Neves (Our Lady of the Snows!) is reputedly the third oldest church in Brazil.
I usually spend my summer break walking the sands and enjoying the beach but this time around I decided to walk the hills of Don Victoriano Chiongbian, a town of Misamis Occidental, the Philippines, and enjoy the cool river waters of Salug.
After about six weeks of parish life as a deacon in my home parish of the Immaculate Conception in Iligan City, I left Iligan with a full heart. My jump-off point was the city of Ozamis where I stayed with Fr. Sean Martin, a Columban involved in various environmental issues like mining in the area.
As a teenager I browsed whatever reading materials were left around my home: Sunday newspapers that my father enjoyed; novels that my older brother and sisters considered worthwhile; and religious magazines that my mother read at the end of her busy days. These materials expanded the horizons of my world and beckoned me to explore the strange but fascinating world that adults inhabited.
As part of the on-going formation and education of Columban lay missionaries, I was privileged to take a six-month course on facilitating retreats for young people. The course has given me an in-depth understanding on the psyche and culture of young people in this modern time.
It was a great joy for me to be invited, two years ago, to return to Santiago, Chile, to celebrate 40 years of the Columban Sisters' mission in that beautiful country.
Fifty years ago I was pastor of an "old Christian" community on Amakusa Island in the far south of Japan. By "old Christian" I mean that a Jesuit missionary, Fr. Luis Almeida, founded the parish in 1566. Then the Tokugawa daimyo government expelled or executed all missionaries.
In the 1980s before the onset of cheap air fares and the free movement of people introduced by the European Union Irish immigrants in London were always on the look-out for news about people going to Ireland. As my work took me back and forth I was frequently asked to take items in my car. On one such occasion a few people heard that I was about to make the journey. I began to get calls requesting to take a few items.
"What do you know about Ireland?" I asked the third grade class that was excited to have just learnt that I was from there. "St. Patrick was from there" responded a girl in the front row. "So did that mean that he was Irish?" I inquired, my tone betraying an element of doubt. "Yes!" came back a chorus of voices, filled with disbelief that I would even pose such a question.