Pentecost Appeal 2024

Fr. John Boles, Director of the Columban Missionaries in Britain has sent the following letter to supporters as part of our Pentecost Appeal.

To all Columban supporters,

Blessings to you as we approach Pentecost Sunday on 19th May, when we are reminded of how the Holy Spirit descended on a tiny, frightened community and inflamed it with a passion to go out and share the Good News of Jesus with the world.

However, what always strikes me with this story is that the Holy Spirit never gave the early Christians a blueprint of what their mission would look like. They had to work it out for themselves and respond to rapidly changing circumstances. In fact, the mission developed in ways the disciples and followers of Jesus might least have expected.

For instance, it is clear in the Acts of the Apostles that these early devotees felt the first step was to stay in Jerusalem and convince the Jewish leaders that Jesus HAD been the long-awaited Messiah. So much for that. Far from accepting this message, the chief priests and elders persecuted the followers of Jesus and forced them out of Judea.

The next idea was to go round the cities of the Middle East and appeal to the Jews in exile – the “Diaspora”. Again, success was very limited. Then, against all expectations, missionaries such as St. Paul found that NON-Jews – the “gentiles”, or pagans – began accepting the Gospel. The Roman persecutions only served to swell their number, and after a couple of centuries we had emerging the Church as we know it today.

The history of Columban Mission is a mirror-image of this story. We were founded in 1918 to go exclusively to China. Our expulsion from China in 1952 seemed like a disaster, but an apparent catastrophe turned into an opportunity as we found a welcome in other countries in Asia, the Pacific and South America. With YOUR help, the Holy Spirit has led Columbans to people living on the margins of society, such as the Subanen people in the Philippines and the HIV/Aids community in Peru, both of which feature in the latest issue of the Far East magazine.

This is the mission we are committed to – going to wherever the Holy Spirit leads us, through faith and circumstance. I thank you for your past support. Our newest Columban priest, Fr. Iowane Naio, ordained in Fiji on 10th April 2024, would be especially grateful for your continued support, for him and for all Columban missionaries.

On Pentecost Sunday (19th May), I will be with Columban leaders in Lima, Peru, for our General Chapter. We will gather in the “upper room”, just like the apostles, to listen to the very same Spirit and to discern the path of Columban Mission for the next six years. Come, Holy Spirit!

Thank you for your prayers and friendship. We journey together with the Spirit of Pentecost, with the Spirit of Surprises.

Fr. John Boles SSC

Columban Director in Britain

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Columban Missionaries are committed to going wherever the Holy Spirit leads them. With your help, they accompany people living on the margins of society in 15 countries around the world. Two Columban priests ordained in April and May - Fr. Iowane Naio from Fiji and Fr. Nbwi La Awng from Myanmar - are especially grateful for your kind support. Thank you!

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