Fr. Peter Hughes, Columban Director in Britain, welcomes all our friends and supporters to a new year of mission and invites God’s blessing on all that we are called to do.
Dear Columban Friend
We begin the New Year with a spring in our step, lifted and energised by the blessing of our Centenary Year in 2018 and by the prayers and encouragement you, our supporters and partners in mission, have given to us throughout this memorable year.
A highlight for all of us was the Mass of Thanksgiving in St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark, on 30th June and we are grateful to all who were able to join us for this special occasion. It has been a joy too to witness celebrations in Columban communities around the world, to whom we have been joined in a special way by the Centenary Pilgrim Altar Cloth.
This year, God is calling us afresh to listen attentively to the needs of those we are called to serve, and to discover the joy of the Gospel in our daily encounters. What is God calling you to do in 2019?
In Britain, migrant communities remain a focus of our grassroots ministry and we will need to prepare for the impact that Brexit may have on them.
Pope Francis has declared October 2019 to be an Extraordinary Month of Mission, a time to grow in our relationship with Jesus, to appreciate the fruits of God’s mission today and to invite new labourers into the field. We plan to support the local Church’s response to the Pope’s invitation, especially in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, where we will be visiting parishes for the Mission Appeal in 2019.
Not everything can be planned, however, and we must leave ourselves open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that is woven in to the fabric of our daily lives.
Recently, I listened to a radio documentary featuring the work of Fr. Tomas King and Fr. Liam O’Callaghan in Pakistan, supporting bonded labourers enslaved by rich landowners and extreme poverty. For these people, one year might seem like another, with little prospect of hope or relief from their situation. What plans can they make? Yet, Fr. Dan O’Connor, also in Pakistan, is in awe of the ‘zest for life’ among these people who know ‘Jesus as their Saviour and friend’ and there is much for us to learn from this. In 2019, we celebrate 40 years of mission in Pakistan and we ask that you pray especially for the Pakistan Mission Unit.
For the next six years we will be guided by a new Society Leader and General Council. Open to new ways of responding to God’s call, we will search deeper to find how we can best serve the poor and care for the Earth, in short, how we can better work for the fullness of life in God’s world.
These are questions for all of us, so in gratitude for all that we receive, let us join in prayer for one another and invite God’s blessing on the year ahead.
Fr. Peter Hughes SSC
Columban Director in Britain