Jack Pamine

Who Are The Columbans?

By Jack Pamine

Jack Pamine, originally from Bohol, lives in Bacolod City and worked with the Columbans from 1993 until 2010. Here he writes about Columban priests he has known and worked with.

Who are the Columbans? That was the lingering question I had. Later, I understood that it is hard to find the collective identity of the group but that its strength is found in each member's spirituality and charism. How each tries to live his missionary life is really amazing. What you find is individual Columbans, each trying to live his vocation to the fullest. The Society of St Columban is not meant to be a religious community but a group of priests committed to working overseas on mission, building up the local Church.

negros columbans

To work for and with the Columbans wasn’t an easy journey because of the strong individuality of each one. But I found them life-affirming of the uniqueness of each person. In the early part of my work, I found it absurd to wake up at midnight to make a long bus trip, spend less than an hour with a family and run back to the terminal to catch the last bus back to Bacolod.

Integral Evangelization By The Columbans In Negros

By Jack B. Pamine
Mission Awareness Ministry

In my Basic Christian Community-Community Organizing (BCC-CO) days, after I left the Redemptorist Formation program, we taught three models of Basic Christian Communities (BCCs): liturgical, developmental and liberational. I didn’t expect to see these being implemented by the Columbans, though maybe I didn’t recognize that they all belong to what is now called ‘integral evangelization’.

My first encounter with these models was in southern Negros Occidental, now the Diocese of Kabankalan, as a Redemptorist in Cebu, on my first summer mission experience in 1984. Three of us chose the Land of Sugarcane instead of going to a barrio. We also attended almost daily the court hearings of the Negros Nine in Kabankalan at the invitation of Redemptorists Fr Francis Connon and Fr Patrick Sugrue. I had no idea then of the Columbans’ work except that they had a room in the Redemptorist Monastery in Bacolod. My first image of a Columban was Fr Mark Kavanagh, an Irishman. Years later I was to change my affiliation from the Redemptorists to the Columbans but with the same mission of Christ

I was amazed during the trial of the Negros Nine to hear the former cook of Fr Niall O’Brien allege that Father Niall and Fr Brian Gore had plotted in the convento the killing of Mayor Sola of Kabankalan. I saw the court interpreter cry as he translated this statement. The immediate question that came into my mind was ‘Why?’ I understood later that the accused priests were championing the ‘liberational model’ for building BCCs, by supporting the rights of the poor and challenging the unjust social order that kept them in the poverty and misery that was very apparent at that time.