Before I become a lay missionary, I was a full-time volunteer at Jesuit Volunteer of the Philippines (JVP). One of JVP's aims is to send volunteers for a year of service to marginalized communities and areas with greatest need. The volunteers empower these communities as teachers, formators, community organizers, or enterprise development officers assigned to under-resourced schools, parishes, and NGOs across the country.
Apart from my General Council work, I have found myself unofficial chaplain to foreign inmates in five Hong Kong prisons. Many are Christians from Africa and South America, but there are a significant number of Muslims too from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. I often distribute Catholic, and Columban, material in English and Spanish, but to my surprise, one day a number of Pakistani Muslims asked me to get for them Urdu Bibles. I have to admit that I was puzzled and skeptical about this, wondering if they wanted Bibles to read and then ridicule/denigrate during their Friday prayers.
Catholic Church leaders have spoken out to condemn the brutal killing of a young priest, Father Mark Anthony Ventura, 37, from Gattaran town in the province of Cagayan on April 29, 2018. Father Mark was shot by an assassin on the outskirts of Gattaran town after celebrating the Eucharistic Mass. He was blessing children and chatting to the members of the parish choir when he was shot dead. The gunman ran away and escaped on a motorcycle driven by another man.
It all started about three months ago when catechist Timoci Matakiviwa turned up on our doorstep offering to compose a Centennial Meke for us. The Meke is the traditional Fijian dance. Columban Frs. David Arms and Ioane Gukibau were there that day, and we together determined that this would indeed be a fitting addition to our Centennial celebration so we said yes.
The Portuguese have become a part of Rhode Island society, but not at the price of entirely losing their religious heritage. Despite cold and blustery March winds and snow flurries blowing off Narragansett Bay, on Palm Sunday morning roughly 60 pilgrims from the "Romeiros de Bristol" confraternity made their annual pilgrimage from one holy sanctuary to another around the town of Bristol, Rhode Island.
The Bogey Man, written March 11, 1992
When I was growing up in Ireland we used to hear about the bogey man – who would snatch naughty children and spirit them away. In the dark days of racial prejudice in Fiji (which I’m sure have gone now) the two major races here in Fiji used to identify the “bogey man” as someone of the other race. iTaukei children were told that, if disobedient, they would be given away to the Indian man in the settlement nearby. Indo-Fijian children were warned that, if naughty, a big Fijian man would eat them.
A week-end retreat with the women
from the desolate city slum …
delight in grass, and flowers and shrubs;
joy, to be free for two whole days
of husbands, children and endless washing;
the balm of silence after a lifetime of noise;
happiness, to be quiet with God and friends.
Each of us chose a picture from the life of Jesus,
and let the details resound in our heart's core …
My heart still burns as I recall
the intimacy with which they spoke of
Jesus, companion, liberator, friend,
My main interfaith experiences in the Philippines were with Muslims; things in Myanmar are very different given the very large majority Buddhist population. Last year, I spent one month in a Buddhist monastery, following their schedule of prayer and work.
They only eat twice a day (last meal being taken at 12 noon). My friend, a young monk, realizing how difficult this must be for me, organized that I go each evening to the house of his mother nearby to have a meal.
Church and police authorities and non-government organizations (NGOs) came together recently in the Vatican under the Santa Martha Group headed by Cardinal Vincent Nicholas to discuss and share their experience and listen to each other. They discussed greater cooperation in combating the global scourge and horrific crimes of human trafficking of vulnerable people into modern slavery. Such cooperation is absolutely essential to find an efficient global response and local action to save the victims and challenge the criminals.
I have discovered
that a buttercup has five petals,
that several colors enliven a patch of moss
that grass comes in near-infinite variety
and that a swift-flowing stream sings
with an astonishing range of voices
I came to know these things
when I slowed my walking pace
chose a narrow path with many turnings
and tuned all my senses to the world about me.
Columban Fr. Cyril Lovett lives and works in Ireland