Around the world
Founded in 1918 as a mission to China, Columban missionaries today live and work in many countries around the world.
As part of the missionary outreach of the Catholic Church, we bring the lived experience of mission in other countries where we work to the Australian Church and the wider community. We share what we have learned from living and working across the boundaries of culture, language and faith, especially among the poor, marginalised and exploited. Our empathy is for those living at the edges of our society, for the indigenous, migrants, refugees and minority communities.
Columban mission in Chile began in the 1950s and was carried out during a time of dire poverty, resulting from lack of employment and education, and within a volatile political period that often caused violent social unrest. The violent political and economic turmoil brought many hardships and much suffering for the people of Chile. Much poverty still exists today although the political climate is now much more stable.
The Columban presence in China includes ministries to people in Hong Kong and mainland China. These ministries form part of the Universal Church’s expression of hope for all the people of China, the largest population of any nation in the history of humanity.
The worldwide leadership of the Missionary Society of St. Columban is based in Hong Kong after the Superior General and his Council transferred the Society’s headquarters from its traditional home in Ireland to China on 1st May, 2008 to be closer to where many of our missionaries are working.
The General Council is responsible for the governance of the Society and for facilitating and guiding its mission. It is made up of the Society Leader, the Vicar General and two Councillors.
Columbans in Fiji work in the parishes of Ba, Raiwaqa and Labasa. We promote mission in the local church and work for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation with the diocese and local civic society groups. We work with the Archdiocesan Office and have assisted in translating the Bible and liturgical texts into Fijian (Vosa). We minister in nearby hospitals and are involved with outreach to the Korean and Rabi-Kiribati linguistic groups. Besides this our ministry also includes supporting the Formation Programmes for Priesthood and Lay Mission.
Columbans in Ireland is a collaborative effort between the Columban Fathers, Columban Sisters and Lay Missionaries who through a variety of ministries respond to God’s mission. Much of Columban work in Ireland is focussed on responding to the needs of new multicultural Ireland. They work to establish good relationships with other faith communities, supporting refugee and migrant communities.
Besides this, Columbans in Ireland are involved with mission awareness and fundraising in parishes and inviting readership to the Irish ‘Far East’ Magazine. They promote justice, peace and environmental justice and support the Migrant Rights Centre, a project which was initiated by the Columbans in response to the dramatic increase in migration into Ireland from the late 1990s onwards. Columbans in Ireland support the Immigration Apostolate and are members of the Irish Missionary Union. In addition to this they lead adult catechesis programmes and are actively involved in seminary formation and retreat work.
Our mission in Japan takes place in parishes, through dialogue with people from other religions, culture and language and through caring for our environment. Presently, there are 18 Columban Missionaries in the Region of Japan, 16 are priests and 2 are lay missionaries. These missionaries come from seven different countries including Australia, Ireland, Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, United States and Vietnam.
Columbans in Korea (South) are a group of Columban Fathers, Sisters and Lay Missionaries who give expression to their commitment to the mission of Christ through a variety of ministry work Besides promoting justice, peace and environmental justice the Columbans engage in Cross-Cultural and Interreligious Dialogue between peoples of different cultures, language and religions. We run educational rehabilitation and social integration programmes for people with learning difficulties and the intellectually impaired. We are pleased to provide quality care for the retired and aged, hospice patients and people living with HIV/AIDS and assist with the region’s alcoholism.
Through a variety of ministries Columbans in Myanmar focus on the promotion of dialogue between peoples of different ethnic and religious groups including Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians – the relevance and necessity of which is becoming ever more apparent in today’s world. Through the generous support of Columban benefactors, Columban Missionaries have been able to build schools for thousands of internally displaced young Kachins, as well as help train teachers and school-boarding masters. We are actively involved in various development projects that support local communities and preserve Kachin way of life. Columban Sisters help facilitate a women’s centre which offers counselling and other services for women, including a traditional weaving centre. They also facilitate a home care health program for people living with HIV/AIDS at the Hope Centre, a drug rehabilitation program for youth, and a respite house to enable rural communities living afar from population centres to avail medical care.
Columbans in New Zealand work to keep the vital aspects of ‘mission’ on the agenda of the home church and help to promote a true ‘mission’ spirit, whilst encouraging hope-filled responses.
Columban Missionaries aim to grow vibrant Catholic-Christian communities where they work, restoring dignity to the poor and marginalised, whilst enabling them to challenge the roots of poverty and social injustices that are impacting their lives. To date, 50 New Zealand Columban Missionaries have served in overseas missions.
In Pakistan, Columban missionaries are based in the Diocese of Hyderabad, where we continue to serve the Christian community. Poverty, injustice and discrimination are a daily reality for the Parkari Kohli indentured farm labourers, and the Punjabi sweepers who clean the streets and the sewers.
Priority ministries include working among indigenous Tribal Peoples, justice and peace, ecological work, interfaith relations and the training and formation of local church personnel.
Pakistan suffers regularly from natural disasters, especially floods and droughts. For example the Monsoon Season from July through September 2020, brought heavy flooding in Sindh, and an estimated 400 people died, with 200,000 homes being damaged or destroyed. These would be mostly mud and timber houses in rural villages, so the people most affected are the poor.
The Columban response was channelled through the structures and projects already in place for many years now. These include the TB Outreach Programme, the Poor and Needy Project, and the Natural Disaster Fund. These long-established projects enabled us to respond immediately to the crisis situation by providing emergency aid, food rations, medicine and basic shelter materials. These same projects also facilitated the Columban response to the Covid pandemic. The initial lockdown caused untold suffering, especially to daily wage earners who became unemployed overnight, including the majority of the Christian community.
Since 1951 Columbans in Peru have been working in parishes and serving the poor in places where the dignity of life is not respected. Our main focus is to promote and empower lay leadership in the Church and Peruvian society. Christ is our model, and by our efforts to live and promote gospel values, we channel His fullness of life to all.
The Columban Fathers arrived in the Philippines in 1929 with the purpose of building the local Church. We went to Manila, Rizal, Cavite, Pangasinan, Zambales, Misamis Oriental and Occidental, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, Negros Occidental, Surigao and the Zamboanga Peninsula, building churches, schools and organizing communities.
Today, we continue to help the local Church to become more fully missionary. We work in various ministries throughout the Philippines, including Parish ministry, Interreligious Dialogue, Indigenous People’s Apostolate, Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, and support ministries with the deaf and those with special needs, among others. We lead others on a ‘deep journey into Laudato Si’ to inspire urgent action for the care of God’s creation. This resonates among the indigenous tribal communities of Mindanao, where we also help to facilitate inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
We train young men and women from the Philippines to share the God News of Christ in foreign lands as Columban priests and lay missionaries. The first group of young Filipinos to arrive for formation came in 1984, and the first Filipino Columban priest ordained was sent to Japan, while the first group of three Filipina Columban lay missionaries was sent to Pakistan in 1990.
At present, the International House of Studies of the Columban Missionaries is located in Cubao, while the Spiritual Year House is in New Manila. Both houses are in Quezon City, Philippines.
Among those working in the Taiwan Mission Unit are ordained Columbans, Lay Missionaries and Seminarians. Our current mission priorities are ministering among migrant workers, immigrants and their families and victims of human trafficking. We work with indigenous peoples in the Taian Paris located in the Hsinchu Diocese besides support disadvantaged infants, children and youth and those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The majority of our ministry is based in three Migrant Centres of the Hsinchu Diocese.
In the U.S., we continue to invite all the baptized to share in the universal mission of the Church through actively supporting our various missionary endeavors or through exploring the missionary dimensions of their own faith with us in a cross cultural setting. We work with Korean, Hispanic, Filipino and Chinese communities in Washington, D.C., Bristol, Rhode Island, Omaha, Nebraska, El Paso, Texas (and across the border in Juarez, Mexico) and California. Our Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach in Washington, D.C., focuses on the issues of justice, peace and integrity of creation, raising awareness among lawmakers and providing young people with an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the voiceless.
St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace, and Ecology
St. Columban Mission for Justice, Peace, and Ecology envisions a world where each person is empowered to help build a society that liberates the poor, welcomes all migrants, and cares for the earth.
We work to create this world by equipping people of faith with the skills they need in order to evaluate public policy, build bridges between communities, and advocate for the common good.
At the invitation of the Second Vatican Council, and inspired by the activism of the communities that we accompany, in 1976 the Society formally recognized that at the heart of our mission is the work for justice, peace, and ecology. The Society set up a committee to explore the possibility of opening an advocacy office in Washington, DC. After decades of working with communities to establish equitable and sustainable conditions within their countries, we realized that our work was often impeded by economic and military policies supported by the United States’ government.
In 1985, the Society founded the Columban Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Office. We changed our name in April 2009 to the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach and then again in January 2022 to our current name.
Missionary Sisters of St. Columban
Founded by Bishop Edward Galvin in 1925, the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban are religious women who commit themselves to be witnesses of God’s love and compassion. They have a strong affiliation to the Columban Missionaries and are present today in many of the same countries. Please visit www.columbansisters.org for more information.
“And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”