Fr Charles Duster

A Close Shave

By Fr Charles Duster

The author

Fr Duster [DOOster] is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA. He was ordained in December 1961. He worked in Japan from 1962 till 1969. He spent some time in the USA as vocation director and was later to spend 23 years working in Fiji. He also studied canon law in Rome.

It was a missionary’s dream vacation. During the summer of 1967, a Columban classmate of mine, Fr Jim Duffy, who was on his first six-year tour of Korea and I on my first term in Japan, decided to fly down to the Philippines to visit our Columban classmates and confreres. Little did we imagine that it would bring us within two minutes of meeting Our Maker! The trip began well with an exciting week in Manila followed by a wild ride on a commercial bus to Olongapo to visit friends in the Province of Zambales near Subic Bay, a huge US Navy port in those days. The bus drivers on the Victory Liner seemed to compete for passengers by racing one another and passing in what I thought were dangerous situations on the narrow two lane highway.

Providence and Google

By Fr Charles Duster


Fr Duster, from the USA, has worked in Japan and Fiji. During a visit to the Philippines in 1967 he and another Columban were to have traveled on a flight from Bacolod to Cebu on 6 July. Although slightly delayed because they had visited another Columban in hospital, they were still on time for checking in but they weren't allowed on board. The plane left early and crashed, all 21 on board being killed.

The ways of Providence are unusual and wonderful.

It started with a simple question over the dinner table at the Columban House on the north side of Chicago, ‘Rafa, what was your first contact with the Columban Fathers?’

Rafael (Rafa) Ramirez is a Columban seminarian from Chile who was completing a ten-month English language study program at De Paul University and returned to Chile in January 2010. He is continuing his theological studies at Catholic University, Santiago, in preparation for his first missionary assignment next year as a Columban missionary.