September-October 2004

I Will Always Remember You

By Gee-Gee O. Torres

I’d worked with Father Niall in Misyon for almost nine years, but why do I find this very difficult to write? There’s so much to tell about him but I don’t know how to begin. I refuse to think that he’s not with us anymore. I am afraid that if I do, he’d be part of yesterday and it would mean that he would become someone to remember only once in a while  — I don’t want that. If I could only hold back the time, I would. I’d like April 23 of this year to last forever. This was the day when he sent me his last email. He told me that he was looking forward to Tuesday because they were going to do an ultrasound on him. He said that things were looking brighter though there was still a long way to go. This gave me high hopes that he’d make it and that I’d see him again. However, April 25 we received the news that he had a bad fall from his wheelchair, then April 27 his sudden death. I felt empty . . .

The eldest brother of Father Niall, Fergus, brought home his ashes to the Philippines

The Road Less Taken

By Gee-Gee O. Torres

I went to visit our Filipino missionaries in Thailand in 1998. There I met Sr Angela San Jose of the Daughters of Charity. At that time she was assigned to St Clare’s Hospice in Pathumthani, a hospice for AIDS patients who are in the last stages of AIDS. It was founded by the Franciscan Friars in response to the great need to care for poor and homeless persons with AIDS. Today Sr Angela is assigned to Laos. Below I share with you my visit to her.

Bloom Where You Are

by Anabelle B. Gubuan

I was a fresh graduate from college and eager to land a job. I applied for a part-time job in Misyon magazine. I came to Father Niall’s office for an interview. ‘Don’t worry, I won’t bite you,’ was his greeting to me, aware of the anxiety written on my face. He asked me how many books I’d read in the past five months. When I said, ‘Six,’ he smiled from ear to ear. I was hired. Since then I got addicted to reading even more.

Father Niall was the only person who encouraged me so endlessly that I didn’t have any choice but to believe him. He kept telling me that I could go further than what I  thought I could only reach. When he told me he wanted me to work full-time for the magazine, I knew it was going to be a great privilege working with a person who was always hungry for knowledge and wisdom — and he was always restless until he shared this with everyone.

Father Niall touched the lives of many people

The Dead Were Buried But Life Continues

By Sister Josephine Ong ICM

Burundi, a former Belgian colony, is a landlocked country in central Africa with an area of 27,830 sq kms, just over a quarter of the size of Luzon. 62 percent of its 6,223,897 people (July 2001 estimate) are Catholics. 85 percent are ethnically Hutus and 14 percent Tutsis. Inter-ethnic conflict has broken out a number of times and at least 200,000 died in a civil war that lasted from1993 into 2000. Trouble broke out again last year, as Sister Josephine writes.

On 5 July 2003 five new priests were ordained in our diocese in a beautiful ceremony that lasted nearly six hours. These were the first ordinations at Our Lady’s shrine, north of the city proper of Bujumbura, the capital. About a thousand attended the agape. And can you imagine nine choirs? It was impressive how all the parishes and the reception committee put their hands together to make this day memorable.

From Farmhand To Parish Priest

By Father John Walsh SSC

Columban Father John Walsh tells us of his journey from milking cows on the family farm in New Zealand to being a parish priest in Zambales. He also gives us a glimpse of the pain for himself and his family in this.

The Columbans first came to Wellington, New Zealand, in 1943 and the following year opened a house of studies for first-year seminarians. The publicity given to this event was the first news our family received that this mission-sending group now had a house in our country. We always knew that they had a seminary over in Melbourne, Australia, because a cousin of ours had been the very first New Zealander ever to go there back in the 1920s.

Mother Teresa In Her Own Words

There are some people who, in order not to pray, use as an excuse the fact that life is so hectic that it prevents them from praying.  This cannot be. Prayer does not demand that we interrupt our work, but that we continue working as if it were a prayer.

It is not necessary to always be meditating, nor to consciously experience the sensation that we are talking to God, no matter how nice this would be. What matters is being with him, living in him, in his will. To love with a pure heart, to love everybody, especially to love the poor, is a twenty-four-hour prayer.

Life On The Mountaintop

By Sister Maria Luisa Tomaro OND

Moving from a small island to a mountainous area is not without its difficulties, as Sister Maria Luisa knows only too well.

Reading Misyon regularly encouraged me to share my mountain experience here in the Diocese of Daru-Kiunga, Western Province, PNG. I was in Daru Island before but we closed our mission there so I was transferred to the mountain of Golgobip, a different experience with different people in a different place and situation. In Daru, I was surrounded by the ocean but now am surrounded by high mountains without roads and cars.  The only means of transportation is the plane. If it doesn’t come because of bad weather or no passengers from the center we, my sister companion and our parish priest, are stranded and have no food to eat except kau-kau and taru (kamote and gabi), the people’s staple food. Anyway, by God’s grace we survive.

Life-giving moments . . .

By Rosemary Taker

Rosemary Taker, from Merseyside, the region in North West England that includes Liverpool, the home of the Beatles, recently returned there after three years as a Columban lay missionary working in Sinacaban, Misamis Occidental, in the Archdiocese of Ozamiz. Here she shares her reflections before leaving Mindanao.

I worked with children and families in Britain as a social worker before becoming a Columban lay missionary. After three years in the Philippines I look at things from a different perspective. I feel privileged to have journeyed with the people who, despite their struggles, pain and hardships, always find the time to smile. Being here has not been without difficulties and challenges, but becoming vulnerable and powerless has brought me closer to God and strengthened my prayer life.

'Choose the Child I Insist On It'

By Father Seán Coyle

On 16 May Pope John Paul canonized Gianna Beretta Molla. She was born near Milan on 4 October 1922 and grew up in a strongly Christian family that led her to experience life as a marvelous gift from God. During her student years she was active in Catholic organizations and spent much time with the elderly and needy. She graduated as a doctor in 1949 and opened a clinic the following year near her home place. She specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan. Gianna considered medicine a mission and practiced it with generosity, especially among the poor. She also loved skiing and mountaineering as her sister-in-law, Virginia Beretta, recalls. Playing the piano and going to the opera at Milan’s famous La Scala were also part of her life as was dabbling in oil-painting.

Gianna married Pietro Molla on 24 September 1955, when they dedicated themselves ‘to forming a truly Christian family.’ In November 1956 Pierluigi was born, in December 1957 Mariolina and in July 1959 Laura. With her passion for life, Gianna was able to balance the demands of being wife, mother and doctor.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD


At times, if not all the time, some people keep yawning during the homily. One Sunday, Father Stanislaw Gergont SVD, assistant parish priest of Kintampo, suddenly clapped his hands to get the attention of the sleepyheads and begged, ‘Please, just give me two minutes to finish my homily.’

Life and Death

Have you ever wondered what it would be like spending life with the dead and yet being unafraid?

Friend to the mourners

I know a man who lives just like that most of the time. His name is Kalis. He’s a friend to embalmers, to those who arrange flowers for funerals and to newly-bereaved families. His town folks know him well even though he’s seldom seen on festive occasions such as weddings and birthdays. Ask anyone where he is and the answer will always be the same: ‘Kung saan merong patay, siguradong nandoon yan!’ And what is he doing? Chances are, you’ll find him helping the mourning family, doing errands, teasing the teenage boys or being teased by them, talking about things that would make your head spin in confusion and making you laugh. Kalis, who has a mental disability, could drive you crazy at times.

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro SJ

By Sister Mariana Reyes HGS

Sister Mariana came to the Philippines in 2000. She is a member of the Hermanas Guadalupanas de la Salle founded in Mexico in 1946 by Brother Juan Fromental Coyroche, a De La Salle Brother from France. The Sisters follow the charism of St John Baptist De La Salle and are involved in the promotion of Christian Education. Their spirituality in the service of God inspires them to look to Our Lady of Guadalupe in her role as evangelizer of the people they serve. They arrived in the Philippines in 1984. Other countries in which they work include Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Italy, Madagascar, Peru and Thailand.

A Letter To My Special Friends

By Sister Angela Battung RGS

Sister Angela, a regular contributor, introduces us to some of her friends in the nursing home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she works. They include one whose ‘name’ is that of a popular Canadian beer!

My dear special friends,

I want to thank you all for making me a part of your lives.You, each of you, have been and are a blessing to me. Some of you have praised me for some kindness I have done and continue to do for you by ‘bringing Christ’ to you.You have done much more for me than I have done for you.Each time I went to see you, I found Christ waiting for me with you!