September-October 2017

From the Editor

September – October 2017

Yes to another day!

Each day every day we say our YES . . .
- to life
- to love and care for creation and each other
- to be open and be grateful to God’s beauty around us and within us
- to His invitation to share in Christ’s mission here on earth
- to our commitment to live out our faith in joy and thanksgiving ...


Painting done by Jason Antiquera
Jason is a Columban priest assigned in Korea.

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Blessed to be a Columban, Blessed to be a Parish Priest

By Fr Leo Distor

Fr Leonito Distor is from Marbel, South Cotabato and is the fifth of six siblings. He was installed as the First Filipino Columban Parist Priest of Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila on May 1, 2014. He is currently a member of the Regional Council of the Society of St Columban in the Philippines.

Before I became a Columban, I was with the tribal people in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato for six years, teaching elementary grade school students and working as kind of a liaison to the different tribal communities in the area. That's where I was coming from. I discovered that I have the inclination to this kind of work and I found joy in it. When I learned about the Columbans’ understanding of mission which is very different from those I had in mind, I told myself that this is where what I experienced and what I learned will have a place, where I can grow as a missionary...

Read more

The Ladies who are called Maria

By Marjorie Engcoy

The author is from Ozamiz City. She has been in Fiji as a Columban Lay Missionary since 2012. She is currently the editor of Kaulotu, a Columban magazine circulated in Fiji.


Marj (center) in Fiji with Nau Merelita, mother of Lanieta and Sainiana Tamatawale (Columban lay missionaries), and their cousin, Penina

In my new parish assignment, I am blessed to have met wonderful ladies who are named after our Blessed Mother. And I would like to share my experience with them...

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The Moment I Felt God Embraced Me in the Community Life

By Columban Hkun Myat Aung

The author is a Columban seminarian from Myitkina, Myanmar who joined the Columban formation program here in the Philippines in 2015. At present he is studying Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas.

I am Columban Hkun Myat Aung. I am from Myanmar. I came to the Philippines on 1st of November 2015 to join the formation program of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. When I arrived in the Philippines, I was not able to speak English very well. Most of the time, I was silent during our community meals because I could not understand what my companions were talking about. I could not catch even a word they said. Learning a new language is not easy for me. I went to language school in the morning after breakfast then came back to the formation house in the afternoon at around 4 p.m. Studying English the whole day drained my energy the moment I arrived at the house...

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A Light of Hope

By Mary Joy Rile

The author is Assistant Editor of MISYONonline.com and Columban Mission.

I first met the Light The Life (LTL) Candles Community of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, Novaliches on their second anniversary and blessing of Light the Life Learning Center on May 6, 2017. Looking at the mothers and how excited they were at the products of their labor, I knew there was something more that I ought to listen to. Two months later, Korean Columban lay missionary Anna Noh Hyein, who initiated the Light the Life candle-making project, brought one of the mothers, Mrs. Joy Price Sullano, to our office, so I grabbed the opportunity to interview her...


Joy Price Sullano (left) being interviewed by Mary Joy Rile (right) at the Columban Mission House, Singalong, Manila

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The Impact of Columban Formation on My Life

By Jose Isagani Flores

This is an extract from the sharing of Jose Isagani Flores, PhD, from Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, a member of the first group of seminarians to enter the College Formation Program of the Missionary Society of St Columban in Mabolo, Cebu City, in 1994. He is on the college faculty at Colegio San Agustin, Bacolod City, where his wife, Jo Ann A. Flores, PhD, RN, is Dean of the College of Nursing.


When asked to share at our Homecoming on ‘The Impact of Columban Formation on Our Lives’ I felt both nostalgic and hesitant.

It was through the Columbans that I learned to live in a community where there is friendship and love. The Columbans taught me the importance of caring for those who are in need, whose rights are not respected and are trampled upon...

Read more

The Man in White Garb

By Gregorio O. Pelaez III

The author is a nurse from Cagayan de Oro City and hopes to be in Ireland in October to practice his profession.


The author

After graduating from high school I had nothing in mind but my ambition to become a lawyer and I was ecstatic about it. It was a grand plan that I laid down for my future, and I was convinced that going through four years to get a bachelor’s degree and another four for law school is never a pick-and-shovel undertaking. I was young, full of vigor, and was up for the challenge. With my parent’s backing, I was certain of the steps to take ahead to become a lawyer. But, the inevitable adverse event unfolded on May 11, 2003 when my father died of Hemorrhagic Stroke just a month before the school year opened. Consequently, my dream of going to law school remained just a dream and the financial constraints and hard choices that followed were the biggest impediments I had to endure throughout my college years.

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To Search is to find

September – October 2017

Why do Catholics pray the Angelus?

Angelus is a short devotion in honor of the incarnation of Christ. The devotion is called the Angelus because the first words of the prayers to be said begin as follows, “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” The Angelus, therefore, reminds us of the message of the Angel Gabriel who brought good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. And Catholics are asked to begin the day by remembering this great benefit; to recollect it again at noon, and at sunset or the close of the day...

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September – October 2017

By standing together in unity, solidarity and love we will heal the wounds in the earth and in each other. We can make a positive difference through our actions.

~ Julia Butterfly Hill, Environmental Activist, Motivational Speaker

Read more


A Light of Hope

By Mary Joy Rile

The author is Assistant Editor of MISYONonline.com and Columban Mission.

I first met the Light The Life (LTL) Candles Community of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, Novaliches on their second anniversary and blessing of Light the Life Learning Center on May 6, 2017. Looking at the mothers and how excited they were at the products of their labor, I knew there was something more that I ought to listen to. Two months later, Korean Columban lay missionary Anna Noh Hyein, who initiated the Light the Life candle-making project, brought one of the mothers, Mrs. Joy Price Sullano, to our office, so I grabbed the opportunity to interview her.


Joy Price Sullano (left) being interviewed by Mary Joy Rile (right) at the Columban Mission House, Singalong, Manila

Joy is married to Abdul Sullano, a security guard, with whom she has seven children. She used to sell street food, such as french fries and hamburger in Commonwealth Avenue. A day came when her small business place was threatened to be demolished. She did not have other sources of income. It was so timely that Anna came into their place and brought them some light of hope. Anna was having immersion at St Peter Parish, Commonwealth Ave., Novaliches, and even helped Joy in selling street food. She smiled as she recalled how good Anna was in sales talk.

Later in 2012, with the prompting of their parish priest Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., Anna recruited around 20 mothers, including Joy and initiated a candle-making project at St Peter Parish. Their zero knowledge in candle-making was supplied with weekly trainings for two months. It started as an exploration and eventually capacitated everyone. It was a learning process for all of them, including Anna. In four years time, the project went full-blown and was then turned over to the parish.

Anna ventured into another area. She gathered another group of mothers, this time at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, and introduced them to candle-making. She invited Joy to join her and train this new breed of candle-makers. Since then Joy has become part of the Light the Life Candles in this community.

Joy is leading this new group. In the experimentation stage, she reflected, “It was necessary to do trial-and-error as you would not know the flaws if you hadn’t tried. Usually, before I teach others the proper way of making candles, I test the process first and I realize that it’s always an opportunity for something new. The same with life, there will always be something new to learn and to impart”.


Anna and Joy

She works closely with Anna, mainly supervising the project. She’s been with her for five years now since they started the candle-making project. She was drawn to Anna’s sense of vision, sincerity and desire to improve the lives of the mothers, which made her want to be part of it.

She has grown in love with Light the Life Candles community. She may have encountered difficulties in dealing with mothers, but she is firm in saying that they are bonded by one objective, guided into one direction and looking forward to the accomplishment of their goal. And this moves them to be tolerant with each other, humbly adjusting and learning to understand the problem, assessing what one can contribute and what needs to be done. They are working as one team.

“In most things, when you don’t give it a try, you settle into thinking it’s difficult. But the moment you take a step and you put your heart into it you will surpass any kind of challenge, no matter how difficult it is.” That’s how Joy deals with challenges.

She doesn’t mind travelling for about an hour every day to work with Light the Life Candles. She is grateful to Anna and the Light the Life Candles community for their help. This experience has changed her life. The Gwangju Youth Supporters and other donors through Anna provided scholarships to four of her children, which on her own, she could not afford. Because of them, her second child, who is taking up Nursing, is graduating this year. Her third child, taking up Accountancy, who stopped for some time in college due to lack of funds, is now back to school.


Mothers working with Light The Life Candles

To quote what Joy has to express:

“On behalf of the mothers, I would like to give thanks to the Missionary Society of St. Columban because through them Anna was assigned to our place; and through her initiative the Light the Life Candles came to be, providing us mothers the opportunity to learn candle-making and earn a living for our families.

It is every parent’s dream to send their children to school and graduate so they can face the future equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to survive on their own. Education is the best legacy we can give to our children. This dream has become a reality with the help of Anna, in particular and the Columbans, in general. A number of us are being helped and we remain grateful. I am also thankful to Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr. and the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy in Novaliches for helping me and accepting me even if I don’t reside there.”

Joy sees herself being called to serve through the Light the Life Candles. She received a light of hope and she hopes to share the light to others as well. She hopes to continue for as long as she can.


Joy giving seminar on candle-making to students of Metro Manila College, February 17, 2017

Light the Life Candles also offers candle-making training to those who are interested.



Author: 

Blessed to be a Columban, Blessed to be a Parish Priest

By Fr Leo Distor

Fr Leonito Distor is from Marbel, South Cotabato and is the fifth of six siblings. He was installed as the First Filipino Columban Parist Priest of Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila on May 1, 2014. He is currently a member of the Regional Council of the Society of St Columban in the Philippines.

Before I became a Columban, I was with the tribal people in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato for six years, teaching elementary grade school students and working as kind of a liaison to the different tribal communities in the area. That's where I was coming from. I discovered that I have the inclination to this kind of work and I found joy in it. When I learned about the Columbans’ understanding of mission which is very different from those I had in mind, I told myself that this is where what I experienced and what I learned will have a place, where I can grow as a missionary.

I joined the Columban Society and was ordained on December 27, 1996. Right after my ordination, I was assigned for two months in Malabang Parish, Prelature of Marawi. It is a parish with a school, which caters to Muslim and Christian students. Together with Columban Fathers Rufus Halley and Paul Cooney, I helped out in the masses and got involved with the youth. We had limited masses then as everything was confined within the church area. The parish was fenced and whatever we did had to be done within the confines of the walls, so as not to offend the Muslims or the non-Christians, in particular. The Malabang Parish was first administered by the Columbans.


Peregrinari Pro Christo, 2010
Filipino Columban Priests L to R: Fr Darwin Bayaca (Central Administration, Hong Kong), Fr Leo Distor (Malate Parish, Philippines), Fr Rolando Aniscal (Vocations, Philippines), Fr Jude Genovia (Korea), Fr Philip Bonifacio (Japan), Fr Jovito Dales (Central Administration, Hong Kong) and Fr Andrei Paz (USA)

After my assignment in Malabang, I was appointed to go on mission to Korea. When I arrived in Korea, I was assigned to a small parish run by the Columbans. I stayed there for about eight months, then I did a refresher course of the language. I first learned the Korean language when I went to Korea in 1994 for the two-year First Mission Assignment (FMA) program. After completing the language refresher course, I signed a two-year program staying in a Korean parish, made possible with the help of the then regional director, Fr. Donal O’Keeffe, and his Korean diocesan priest-friend. On weekends, I helped in the ministry for Filipino migrant workers in Korea. I said masses for them, heard confessions and accompanied them in their journey, spending time talking with them and listening to their stories. During this time, I was also a member of an association of Filipino Catholic missionaries in Korea. Most of us were involved in the ministry for migrant workers. These went on for five years, from 1997 until 2002.

The years that followed found me in the formation work.

Fast forward, joining Malate Parish in 2013 and being assigned a parish priest since May 2014 is a familiar call that has become closer to my heart. Looking back at my past experiences in pastoral work, I can say now that I know where my heart is. And I affirm myself. I have always wanted to do pastoral work, to be with people. It has become a source of confidence for me. I may not be as extrovert as others, in terms of verbal expressions, but I speak out. I get energy from my experiences with people.

Parish work has put me in a place where I can be in contact with people and journey with them. Especially here in Malate Parish, there are a lot of people coming from different parts of the country. We have an urban community here. I don’t find it hard to be with them. It comes naturally for me now. I have improved in dealing with people from all walks of life, coming from different cultures and sub-cultures in our country. I can be myself with them. These experiences of people taking me in, allowing me to be part of their lives have helped me grow in the ministry. When they see that I am trying to establish a connection, they feel that and will start to open up. There are instances when I would shy away from people when I feel vulnerable and my insecurities would surface.

I was aware of my own reluctance when I was asked to be assigned in Malate Parish. In saying “yes” to the invitation, I thought that like my previous assignments, I was simply answering to the needs of the Society, somebody has to do it, “I was being sent to it”. Eventually, I realized that I’m learning a lot and finding it meaningful and I am quite happy doing it.


Fr. Leo Distor (playing the guitar) with other Columban Missionaries in Malate joyfully serenading the people with their song during the Parish Volunteers' Night, 2015.
L-R: Fr. Kevin McHugh, Fr. Jason Antiquera, Fr. Michael Martin, Naanise Mo’unga (Columban lay missionary), Fr. John Leydon

Before I became the Parish Priest, I requested if I can be allowed to work with the Parish team for a year before asssuming the role. I made an arrangement with them, "Allow me one year to immerse then I would be ready for anything." And that's the way it happened. That helped me a lot. I had the freedom to explore, with no administrative function that would tie me down to meetings and in the office. I was just happy with that arrangement. There I discovered my inclination, my interest - accompanying and probably living with the people, being present with them and to them. I saw that it was good. And it’s good for me to acknowledge this. It was good for me to go through this experience because this is going to be where I would be going to come from when I do other ministries and responsibilities. If I would be asked what ministry I would like to be involved in, most probably it would be pastoral ministry. I think this is the joy and fulfillment of my priesthood. It is the drive of my missionary journey.

I was asked, “How is it like to be the first Filipino parish priest of Malate?” It doesn't really make much of a ‘thing’ for me. But probably it needs to be said that now there is the first Filipino parish priest, to be noted in the history of the Columbans in the Philippines. It is a mark recognizing that in the region, Filipinos or local people are now taking-on regional or bigger responsibilities such as this.

I am happy because people are happy to have me here in the parish. Since I am a Filipino, people find it easier to express things to me, confident that I would understand them as we speak the same language. Sometimes it creates more demands on me. But I look at it in a positive way – a venue for dialogue and greater understanding.


Fr Leo with the teachers of Remedios BEC Nursery School, Linggo ng Wika 2015
Atty Marge Condes (second from left) is the Parish Education Ministry Coordinator.

I sense that the churchgoers here in Malate have already imbibed the wisdom of the Columbans who had worked here before. There are always areas we continue to work on. We work as a team and we meet every week. We talk things out, the issues and concerns in the parish. And that helps me a lot in understanding the dynamics of people working and living in the parish and how things operate. I had been away for fifteen years and this is my first permanent assignment in the country. I’m on my fourth year now in the region and I would like to be realistic in the way I approach things because even if I am a Filipino, I don’t know much about the region as I have been away for a long time.

I keep an attitude of openness to the leadings of the spirit. Sometimes the difficult part is to know what it is. But life continues. I am quite happy in the parish and it is important for me to relish this. I want to savor it fully, as it is a big help for me, personally. I want to hold on to this for a little while longer, probably for more experience.

I carry with me that sense of gratitude. I am happy to be with the Columbans. I am blessed to be a Columban and I can be a blessing as a Columban too. Blessings abound. In the parish, I’ve learnt to be attentive to God’s blessings that can come through people. I always say that the parish is indeed a holy ground even before I came. There are just so many good things happening in here. I am happy that I have become part of it and have also contributed something to it.


Author: 

From the Editor

September-October 2017

Yes to another day!

Each day every day we say our YES . . .
- to life
- to love and care for creation and each other
- to be open and be grateful to God’s beauty around us and within us
- to His invitation to share in Christ’s mission here on earth
- to our commitment to live out our faith in joy and thanksgiving


Painting done by Jason Antiquera
Jason is a Columban priest assigned in Korea.

The month of September has been designated by the Catholic Church as the Season of Creation, to remind us of our responsibility to care for and nurture our planet and each other. Many groups have taken initiatives to care for the earth and address the challenges confronting our environment. This is not only the concern of some groups. This is our concern, as individuals and as a society. We are called to say our YES every day, to do what we can to respect and preserve our ecosystems and to prevent further devastation to our environment. The Earth is our only home. What we do to it, we do to ourselves.

Nature springs out from the goodness of God. We can show our appreciation and gratitude to God’s goodness by being responsible stewards of His beautiful creation. As Pope Francis expressed his prayer in a tweet @Pontifex: “Lord, teach us to contemplate you in the beauty of creation and reawaken our gratitude and sense of responsibility.”


Annunciation to Mary by Cathy France
Thanks to Cathy for allowing us to use this image.

When Mary said YES to God’s plan of salvation, she said YES to be part of everything that God has designed, with gratitude and faith in her heart. The month of October reminds us of Mary’s role in our Christian faith. Like Mary, we are invited to say our YES everyday as we live out the teachings of Christ in our life, by the words we say and not say, and the acts we do and not do, to each other and to all of creation.

Mary, as a mother, treasured God’s graciousness and love in her heart and from it her obedience, humility and constancy in faith and care. May we emulate Mary’s kind of YES, the kind that brings peace and healing to our wounded world.


Our Hideaway

The Man in White Garb

By Gregorio O. Pelaez III

The author is a nurse from Cagayan de Oro City and hopes to be in Ireland in October to practice his profession.


The author

After graduating from high school I had nothing in mind but my ambition to become a lawyer and I was ecstatic about it. It was a grand plan that I laid down for my future, and I was convinced that going through four years to get a bachelor’s degree and another four for law school is never a pick-and-shovel undertaking. I was young, full of vigor, and was up for the challenge. With my parent’s backing, I was certain of the steps to take ahead to become a lawyer. But, the inevitable adverse event unfolded on May 11, 2003 when my father died of Hemorrhagic Stroke just a month before the school year opened. Consequently, my dream of going to law school remained just a dream and the financial constraints and hard choices that followed were the biggest impediments I had to endure throughout my college years.

After my father’s demise my mother became the breadwinner who is a very practical woman in every sense. When she decided that I should take up nursing to get a good paying job abroad, my world suddenly turned upside down, and the reiteration had a wearying effect that had caused me to lose appetite for anything. Apart from my father’s death, it was one of the saddest moments of my life. Honestly, I found nothing lofty or meritorious in wearing the Nurse’s white uniform and I was quite sure I would never be garbed in one. My impression was that nurses only do dirty jobs, hence, facing the fact that I’d be bound to this kind of job for the rest of my life only worsened my already dampened spirit. Being a nurse was never on the list of my possible principal calling in life but our situation left me with no choice.

Amidst the uncertainty, I was fully aware that my family, especially my mother, would be very disdainful if I didn’t get to finish a college degree. I decided to take the bitter pill. I set aside my personal aspirations and became a go-getter to succeed, not for myself but for my family. Only when I entered the gates of the University that I realized I had lost my volitional power to choose my own career path and had to put my grand plan in total oblivion.

Somehow in my second year in Nursing I was able to adjust quite remarkably in the career path chosen for me. In fact, Nursing had aroused my competitive interest. The arduous training had indeed prepared me for the volatile and grueling situations in life and work ahead. After I became a full-fledged Nurse I got accepted into one of the hospitals in the city where I live. Then, the life-changing events began.


Gregorio (front row, leftmost) with colleagues in Maria Reyna Xavier University Hospital, July 2009

Seven months in the Medical-Surgical ward was no picnic. Day in, day out I did the treadmill of endorsing patients, apportioning doses of medications, feeding patients through gastric tubes, etcetera. Oftentimes, the overlapping tasks ate up my time for meal breaks. Nonetheless, I was lucky enough I didn’t develop ulcers in my gut. But, the demands of the work and the volume of admissions per day were overwhelming and exhausting. It is no exaggeration to say that countless times bladder break was almost not an option for nurses in a bustling hospital environment which I bet my colleagues would nod in agreement. Notwithstanding the back breaking tasks and the potential implications on my health, I still stuck to my mantra, “play hard and win the day”. At the day’s end, I just patted my back and thought, “God must have a greater purpose why He puts me here”. This thought alone consoled me.

Then the most unforgettable event in my entire Nursing career took place on Christmas Eve in 2010 which has completely changed the way I view life, death, and my profession. Christmas is a time of gladness and cheer but not for the family of a 5-year old child, who was diagnosed with Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. On the 5th day of confinement she was in the stage of the disease in which an abrupt change, either for better or for worse, may be expected. With all the life saving devices attached to her helpless body and the various medications to sustain her and keep her vital signs up, one could not think of anything that could save her but miracle alone.

To lay eyes on a suffering child is emotionally overpowering. For the entire week that she was under my care, the emotional distress had taken its toll on me. Indeed, empathy is being able to understand and share the feelings of others in whatever situation they may be in, good or bad. Towards the end of the week of the child’s confinement, the situation was precarious, but the family, particularly the parents were laudable for their courage and auspicious disposition throughout the ordeal. I’ve seen people who were dauntless beyond measure, but there is none that I can equate to the undying faith, courage, and loftiness of spirit of parents for their children, especially in times of suffering. These parents were one of them. When the child died on Christmas Eve 2010, I was at her deathbed bludgeoned with grief. But amidst the loss I saw life sprouting out from the family as members came together reconciled and healed. Their faith in the Lord sustained them throughout the ordeal.


Gregorio (middle) with friends at an HIV Awareness Campaign, Cagayan de Oro, March 2015

Today, I am more than thankful to God that I had partaken in the suffering of others. Through them, Nursing, which once I considered inconsequential has become a symbol of the true essence and value of the noblest professions in the world. It is a profession that does more than dirty jobs; a profession that partakes in the sorrow and bliss of others; and a profession that does not only tend to the physical maladies but serves as an instrument of God to touch people, share love, help others and give hope. What I expected to be just another work experience became an eye opener and the seedbed of the greatest lessons I learned in life.

In retrospect, I saw my whole life evolving to outclass my old self and become better in my professional and personal life. I am profoundly grateful to my dear mother for being the instrument who led me to this noble ministry of caring for the sick and the dying. Five years have passed and I am still a nurse at heart, always ready to serve as a nurse, and I am proud to be the man in white garb.


Peace by Peace

September – October 2017

By standing together in unity, solidarity and love we will heal the wounds in the earth and in each other. We can make a positive difference through our actions.

~ Julia Butterfly Hill, Environmental Activist, Motivational Speaker



Think, feel, and follow relationships. Relationships are at the heart of social change. Relationships require that we understand how and where things connect and how this web of connections occupies the social space where processes of change are birthed and hope to live. The key for peacebuilding is to remember that change, if it is to be sparked and then sustained, must link and bring into relationship sets of people, processes, and activities that are not like-situated nor of similar persuasion.

~ John Paul Lederach, The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace



Oh yes, but, oh my God, I never thought that it was so hard to follow. I have tried to follow when you called. I ask you in return to console my poor mother, to comfort her, to help her to make the sacrifice I am making and spare her until we meet again. I ask not for myself but for her.


Bsp. Edward Galvin baptizing a child in China

~ Edward Galvin, co-founder of the Society of St. Columban (1882-1956)



A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.


Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, Jusepe de Ribera, (1639) [Wikimedia]

~ St Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Friars Minor (1182-1226)



On our School

On our school
Send blessings, Lord,
On us send your peace.

On us all
Your love bestow,
Gifts that never cease!


The Original Prayer Trust Headquarter – Our Lady & St. Benedict’s Church Wootton Wawen, UK

~ Lord, You’re a Real Friend: Prayers for Younger People by The Prayer Trust



The Impact of Columban Formation on My Life

By Jose Isagani Flores

This is an extract from the sharing of Jose Isagani Flores, PhD, from Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, a member of the first group of seminarians to enter the College Formation Program of the Missionary Society of St Columban in Mabolo, Cebu City, in 1994. He is on the college faculty at Colegio San Agustin, Bacolod City, where his wife, Jo Ann A. Flores, PhD, RN, is Dean of the College of Nursing.


When asked to share at our Homecoming on ‘The Impact of Columban Formation on Our Lives’ I felt both nostalgic and hesitant.

It was through the Columbans that I learned to live in a community where there is friendship and love. The Columbans taught me the importance of caring for those who are in need, whose rights are not respected and are trampled upon.

It was through the Columbans that I allowed myself to return to my childhood days to reminisce and to treasure affirmations through awards. In return, I gained self-confidence and acceptance of myself. And the Columbans helped me realize that I am well-loved by my brothers and sisters, by my nephews and nieces especially through their fervent prayers.

The Columbans taught me the importance of Family Life. The family is a place of refuge, where each of us is accepted as a person, where we get the energy, meaning and strength to get on with our life. With the Columbans I learned the true meaning of love, especially for my wife, Jo Ann, and her unfading love. She is one of my greatest blessings from God. Her love is a gift that I am thankful for everyday.


Amigo Columbano, a group of former Columban seminarians, in their Alumni Homecoming 2016, Cebu City


The Ladies who are called Maria

By Marjorie Engcoy

The author is from Ozamiz City. She has been in Fiji as a Columban Lay Missionary since 2012. She is currently the editor of Kaulotu, a Columban magazine circulated in Fiji.


Marj (center) in Fiji with Nau Merelita, mother of Lanieta and Sainiana Tamatawale (Columban lay missionaries), and their cousin, Penina

In my new parish assignment, I am blessed to have met wonderful ladies who are named after our Blessed Mother. And I would like to share my experience with them.

Nana Maria

She became like a mother to me when I came to live in her household for a month before I moved into the flat that was rented for me. The very day that I came to live with them she told me that I was already part of the family. Nana Maria is a widow and is left with her three children: a son who is her eldest child and two daughters. She’s very active in the parish as well as in the archdiocese. Whenever she’s out and about, she treats everyone warmly with her gentle smile and happy greetings. During her service as a commission head, I saw her unwavering commitment to the role to the extent that it had become part of her already. She encouraged everyone under her wings to do their best in their ministries, to take courage and not to be afraid because God is with them always. But it wasn’t all easy for Nana Maria; I saw her facing trials as well—whether they were regarding church work or family. She faced them with her head held high. I asked her one day while chatting with her over lunch, “Nana, how are you keeping up with all of these trials?” Her answer? Love. She said that at first these trials didn’t make sense to her, but as she got to know and understand her ministry deeper, she began to love it, thus becoming a part of her. The same is true with her family; it is her love for her family that gives her the strength to keep on standing by them and with them.

Aunty Maria

Aunty Maria is a community leader of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus Community in Raiwaqa Parish, Suva. I was told that her community is a challenging community when it comes to participation. Indeed, I saw it when I went to visit the community. There are only about three to four families who are actively participating in the church or community activities. Two things that I admire about Aunty Maria are her love and commitment to the community. She goes around visiting families almost every week, whenever she is blessed with good health, constantly asking how they are and requesting them to assist the community activities in the church. Aunty Maria is a warm and welcoming person. Despite rejection and mockery from others in the community, she still keeps on. The faith community is not only her big responsibility. She is also taking care of her daughter who has special needs. But that does not stop her from being the way she is.

The Blessed Mother


The Annunciation, 2002, Jason Antiquera

Both women are named after the Blessed Mother and both have inherited the loving and committed attitude of Our Lady. In their life journeys, they have never left the foot of the Cross; yet, they adore the Cross that is the source of their strength to withstand whatever tribulations in their lives. And like the Blessed Mother, they knew the cost when they decided to follow Him—tears, rejection, and ridicule but also, more importantly, the blessings and joy that go with it. As I journey with these women, I began to see a deeper kind of joy that is beyond words. As I journey with them, I am further inspired and strengthened to keep hanging on.


The Moment I Felt God Embraced Me in the Community Life

By Columban Hkun Myat Aung

The author is a Columban seminarian from Myitkina, Myanmar who joined the Columban formation program here in the Philippines in 2015. At present he is studying Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas.

I am Columban Hkun Myat Aung. I am from Myanmar. I came to the Philippines on 1st of November 2015 to join the formation program of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. When I arrived in the Philippines, I was not able to speak English very well. Most of the time, I was silent during our community meals because I could not understand what my companions were talking about. I could not catch even a word they said. Learning a new language is not easy for me. I went to language school in the morning after breakfast then came back to the formation house in the afternoon at around 4 p.m. Studying English the whole day drained my energy the moment I arrived at the house.

In spite of the hardship while learning a new language, I felt encouraged to continue because I was in a warm community. This was how I experienced the love of God, the warm embrace of God through my dedicated and committed formators (Fr. Raymond Husband and Fr. Finbar Maxwell) and my fellow companions. They understood me and showed me compassion; they listened to me with great patience when I was speaking to them. They encouraged me to speak at least one English word during meal time. They helped me broke my silence by asking simple questions so I was able to respond to them. It was the time I felt being part of the community. I felt God embracing me in my hardship through my community.

After I finished my language studies, I prepared for the college admission test for Philosophy. It was another hard time for me because I came from a totally different education system. I had to study Mathematics again as well as Abstract Reasoning, which I never experienced in Myanmar before. At that moment, I got a lot of support from my fellow companions even though they were very busy with their own studies. They were always ready to explain to me the things that I did not understand.


Columban with his co-seminarians

When I reflect on the experiences I had with my fellow companions, I felt the presence of God in the community life. God has been accompanying me in my vocation journey till now. Lastly, albeit there are many challenges in my vocation journey, I feel alive; I feel joy. I continue to find meaning in life living in a community of diverse cultures.



To Search is To Find

To Search is to find
September – October 2017

Why do Catholics pray the Angelus?

Angelus is a short devotion in honor of the incarnation of Christ. The devotion is called the Angelus because the first words of the prayers to be said begin as follows, “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.” The Angelus, therefore, reminds us of the message of the Angel Gabriel who brought good news of the birth of Jesus Christ. And Catholics are asked to begin the day by remembering this great benefit; to recollect it again at noon, and at sunset or the close of the day.

An old English manuscript says that the Angelus in the morning should remind us of Christ’s resurrection at dawn; at noon of His death on the cross; and at eventide of His birth at midnight in the cave of Bethlehem. In any case, the Angelus is to remind Catholics of the fact that the Son of God came into this world for the redemption of mankind, and that they themselves should never forget it.

[Editor’s note: This is a slightly revised version of an answer featured in #1428 Radio Replies, First Volume, by Fathers Rumble and Carty.]


The Angelus [Happy Saints Prayer Posters]