Ireland

The Philippine War On Drugs

By Fr John Keenan

The author is from Ireland and first came to the Philippines in 1966. He is based in Manila.


Pope Francis with a recovering drug addict
St Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital, Rio de Janeiro, 24 July 2013 [Wikipedia]

‘To all of you, I repeat: Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! Do not let yourselves be robbed of hope! And not only that, but I say to us all: let us not rob others of hope, let us become bearers of hope!’ (Pope Francis, 24 July 2013, Rio de Janeiro).

The war on drugs initiated by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on 1 July 2016 has made headlines around the world.  The Fifth Commandment, ‘You shall not kill’, is ignored. Most of the extra judicial killings take place among the poor. Even women are killed. Children also are caught in cross-fire. 

CDO Archdiocese Celebrates Archbishop Cronin’s 25th Death Anniversary

By Maria Monica L. Borja

This article was first published in Bag-ong Lamdag, the monthly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Vol. 4 No. 7, March 11- April 12, 2016. It has been slightly edited here.

February 19, 2016 marked the 25th death anniversary of Archbishop Patrick Henry Cronin SSC. The clergy, members of religious communities and the lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro gathered for a tribute dedicated to his life and mission at Lourdes College auditorium on February 20.

A Killer Cyclone

by Fr Frank Hoare


A wrecked house in Natanuku

Columban Fr Frank Hoare, based in Fiji, first went there in 1973. He is from Ireland.


Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston

In mid-February this year Tropical Cyclone Winston passed fairly close to Fiji on an eastward path towards Tonga. It missed the large islands but did damage to some of the smaller Lau islands. It damaged one of the big islands in the Tonga group and then made a sharp U turn picking up force from the heat of the ocean below as it reversed its path towards Fiji. The government issued warnings to everyone to prepare for the cyclone by nailing wooden shields over windows, by tying down roofs with wire, by storing up food and water and candles and by buying batteries for radios and flashlights. Evacuation centers in schools and halls were prepared.

Slow Learner

By Fr Neil Collins MSSC

“Young people today find it very difficult to make a permanent commitment.”  I’ve heard this many times in recent years, and to some extent I can understand what they mean, because of my own mixed-up history. Many years ago I became a priest, then left the priesthood, and heard God’s call again.

The unfinished story of a valiant woman

By Fr Joseph Broderick

The author is a Columban priest from Ireland. He was ordained in 1969. He went to Japan in 1970 and, apart from six years working in Britain, 1994 to 2000, has beenthere ever since.

When we think of the missionary work of the Columbans in Japan we must not forget the Trojan work done by Japanese catechists. Very often they were the right-hand ‘Samurai’ of trailblazing Columban missionaries. One such catechist is Miss Tsuneko Hinata.

She was born into a traditional Buddhist family, grew up in the Buddhist tradition and after high school became a professional working woman in a company, but never married. At the age of 40, she ran into crisis time: ‘What is life all about? What am I working like a slave for? What happens to me after death?’

She went searching for answers in the Catholic Church. There she found Christ and her answers, and then went on to receive baptism. She was filled with joy and a new conviction.

But another crisis arose: ‘What do I do with this new joy and conviction? I have to share it with others. How can I do that?’

She decided to quit her professional career in the company and enter the Japanese Catechist School. As a newly graduated catechist she was first employed by the late New Zealand, Columban Fr James Norris and thus began her long journey working full-time for the church, with the Columbans, for meager wages and within even more ‘meager’ living quarters. She became the mouthpiece of the language-struggling Columbans, taught daily the doctrine to truth-seeking searchers, visited the sick at home and in hospital, walked with the newly baptized on their journey of faith in a non-faith environment, and became a spiritual mother to all her spiritual children. She took no credit for her work. It was her way of living out the Gospel.

In Tsuneko's life, she jumped from being a professional worker into the waters of baptism; jumped from the waters of baptism into the catechetical profession and from there she landed in the Columban world.

Keeping Father Niall’s legacy alive: After 10 years, now and beyond

By Richelle Verdeprado

The author is Editorial Assistant of Misyon

We are not immortal beings. In as much as we would want to do amazing things unceasingly and never leave the people that we love, we cannot live forever. Perhaps this is how it really goes in our human lives. We will have years of celebrating our birthdays until one day others will be starting to commemorate our death anniversaries instead. While still breathing we can have moments of learning, enjoyment and discovering until one day we can no longer do them again.


Fr Niall O’Brien.

But I think too, it is that same mortality that can make our lives even more precious. It is that same mortality that will give us enough time to bring joy and hope, to make choices and changes that can go beyond our own lives and have an impact on one individual or even on the entire community and the world. Likewise, it is that same mortality that can cause some people meet each other while others never get that chance. There is a time element in life.


The Kibbutz on Tall Grass Mountain, which shows one of the major initiatives of Fr Niall O'Brien, was produced by the Columbans in the USA in the 1970s, during Martial Law in the Philippines.

Interview with Ms Salvacion Napano – Volunteer Prison Chaplain in Hong Kong

By Fr Pat Colgan

The author, from Northern Ireland, is a member of the General Council of the Columbans since September 2012 and based in Hong Kong. Ordained in 1994, he worked in Fiji before his present assignment.

Sally, can you tell us something about your childhood and your early involvement in the Church?


Father Pat and Sally

I was born in Guimaras, now an island province in the Western Visayas, on 14 September 1961. I am the fifth of eight siblings, five boys and three girls. My father was a rice farmer and my mom a busy housewife. Although our church was far away from the village, we always went, and I can remember dreaming about being a nun. I used to play at being one, dressing up in a veil!


Filipino Maids in Hong Kong Cope with Loneliness [Video produced by UCAN, an independent Catholic news service].

Fond Memories Bring the Light

By Fr Niall O’Brien

This article was written by the late Fr Niall O’Brien, founding editor of Misyon  for The Visayan Daily Star, a daily newspaper published in Bacolod City, where he had a weekly column. Father Niall died on 27 April 2004.

‘Fond memories bring the light of other days around me.’ So go the words of a 19th century Irish melody by Thomas Moore. That’s the way I feel when I remember Christmas as a child.

In my family there were strictly no presents given throughout the year, except birthdays and Christmas but particularly Christmas. I had many maiden aunts and bachelor uncles and they added their presents to those of Santa Claus so there was quite a pile waiting for us we new awoke at dawn on Christmas morning.

I recall not being able to sleep with the excitement. My parents could hardly go to bed at midnight before we would wake up. They used to leave three wineglasses and a tiny trace of sherry in the bottom of each glass to show that they had had a drink personally with Santa Claus. That third glass was proof that he had been there and it certainly convinced us.

I recall skating on the road outside our house at 2:30 am on my new roller skates on Christmas morning. I wonder what the tired neighbors thought because roller skates in those days were metal and made a terrible noise.

Memorial Mass For Fr Timothy Leonard

By Fr Pat Baker

Fr Tim Leonard
Fr Timothy Leonard (1893 – 1929)

Fr Timothy Leonard was ordained in 1918 for the Diocese of Limerick, Ireland, and joined the newly-established Society of St Columban that year. He was in the first group of Columbans to be assigned to China in 1920. He worked with Columban Co-founder Fr Edward Galvin for four years in Hanyang where Fr Galvin became the first bishop in 1927. Then he was assigned to Ireland in 1924 for two years of mission appeal work. He became a well-known figure, riding his bicycle from parish to parish in all kinds of weather.

Father Tim returned to Hanyang in 1926 and in 1928 was a member of the first group of Columbans to go to Nancheng where Columban Fr Patrick Cleary became the first bishop in 1938. While saying Mass there on the morning of 17 July 1929 a group of Communist bandits stormed into the church and attacked Fr Leonard. His vestments were torn off him, the ciborium with consecrated hosts was snatched from his hands and the hosts scattered on the floor and trampled on.

Memorial Mass For Fr Joseph Gallagher

By Fr Patrick J. Baker

‘He was . . . a perfect gentleman’. These words from the homily of Bishop Marlo M.

Fr Joe Gallagher
Fr Joseph Gallagher (1923 – 2013)

Peralta of Alaminos at a Memorial Mass for the late Fr Joseph Gallagher in Labrador, Pangasinan, echoed what everyone said about Father Joe at his funeral in Ireland, which your editor attended.

Fr Joseph Gallagher died in Ireland on 2 August at the age of 90. He had retired to Ireland in 2006, having spent 57 years in the Philippines, 22 of them in San Isidro Parish, Labrador, formerly part of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan but since 1985 part of the Diocese of Alaminos, Pangasinan.

One of Father Joe’s greatest services to the parish was to establish a parish school in 1954, St Columban's School, which is still flourishing. It was originally a high school, but for some years now it has had a large elementary department.

Because he was so dearly loved and remembered in Labrador the community there organized a Memorial Mass for him, celebrated in the parish church on Sunday, 25 August. The idea of having a Mass was first floated by the very active Alumni Association of the school under the presidency of Dra Corazon Macaraeg. But the whole parish wanted to be involved, especially the Parents/Teachers Association, the school, and various parish organizations. It was very obviously a joyful community celebration.

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