Before arriving in Britain recently, Fr. Pat was living in Suva, Fiji where he was Director of the Columban’s Spiritual Year Programme. As Director of this programme, Fr. Pat lived alongside four Columban seminarians and was responsible for leading four students on a very special journey of discovery and discernment.
The Spiritual Year, is an opportunity for Columban seminarians to spend time away from academic work to pray, reflect and discern their calling to Columban missionary priesthood. The three main aims of the programme are to help the students to come to know themselves deeper, to come to know Christ deeper and to come to know who the Columbans are as we respond in our own unique way to the call to be missionary. Together with the four students, Fr. Pat rented a beautiful retreat house at the edge of the Viti Levu rainforest where they could pray in the midst of nature, in an atmosphere of silence.
This is not the first time Fr. Pat has been assigned to Britain. In January 2010, following a decade of ministry in Taiwan, serving the indigenous Taiwanese Catholics of the Atayal tribe in the mountain parish of Taian from 2004 -2010, Fr. Pat moved to London. Here he was part of the Columban Mission Awareness and Appeals team for four years. In February 2014, he took a sabbatical and enrolled in a year-long training course to become a Spiritual Director in Melbourne, Australia.
Fr. Pat explains, “I thoroughly enjoyed my year’s training in Melbourne to become a Spiritual Director. It was a fantastic experience, one which has enriched my missionary vocation. Not only did I discover more about myself but I learnt strategies that have allowed me to support seminarians in deciphering their true calling from God and deepening their spiritual connection with Him. I was delighted to be asked to move to Fiji in 2018 to Direct the Columban’ Spiritual Year Programme as it gave me the opportunity to put into practice my new skills and to witness the Spirit at work.” He adds, “Of the four Columban students on the programme, two of them discerned that God was calling them down different paths and two of them are continuing their theology studies in preparation for priesthood. I wish them all the very best and pray the Lord bestows blessing on them wherever they go and whatever they pursue.”
Having concluded the year- long programme in June 2020, it was some time before Fr. Pat was able to fly back to Britain because of strict Covid-19 restrictions on international travel. He is pleased to be back in Britain and is residing in the London house along with Fr. Dan O’Malley, Fr. Aodh O’Halpin, Fr. Gerry Markey and Fr. Tom Ryan. He is looking forward to restrictions in Britain relaxing so that he can begin sharing Columban mission with people as part of the Columban Mission Awareness and Appeals team once again.
Despite the disruptions so far to mission appeals caused by the Covid-19 restrictions, the Columban Mission Awareness and Appeals team remain determined and are pleased to be taking ‘in-person’ and virtual bookings for parish appeals as well as offering relief cover. This year they will be spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the dioceses of Shrewsbury and Southwalk. For further details of our various mission appeal options or to book relief cover, please contact the Mission Office by emailing email@example.com or calling 01564 772096.