The Society of St. Columban in Britain is delighted to welcome lay missionaries Sophia Ting and Teresa Chuah Hui-Ling to the region who recently arrived here from New Zealand.
Sophia and Teresa both arrived in Britain at the beginning of September and, having spent two weeks in isolation as a precaution, have begun to explore the local area, keen to immerse themselves in British culture and begin their mission assignment here in Birmingham.
Sophia explains “I spent many years working as an Electrical Engineer. In 2011, I attended the World Youth Day in Madrid. It was here I questioned my purpose in life, my future and critically my faith and my relationship with God. I felt an urgent need to discover more about myself, my Christian faith and how to live out my faith more fully. In 2017, I met Columban Fr. Donald Hornsey whilst at a youth retreat in New Zealand. He told me all about the Columbans and their new Lay Mission programme. It led me to the discernment of my calling to be a lay missionary.”
Sophia, together with Teresa, attended a 9 month accompaniment programme in New Zealand, before travelling to Suva in Fiji in March 2019 to begin Columban orientation. The two of them immersed themselves in the local Fijian community and participated in intercultural workshops and various mission awareness and mission promotion projects to familiarise themselves with Columban values and the lay mission ethos. They were given notice of their mission assignment to Britain in September 2019 and began their visa applications shortly after. Several visa setback and delays, and of course, the onset of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions postponed their travel to the UK, but has only fuelled their excitement and eagerness to begin their ministry here.
When asked what she is presently doing, Sophia explains, ‘Teresa and I are still in our orientation programme. We have been introduced to and immersed ourselves into some of the many projects supported by the Columbans in the local area, for example a nearby food bank and the Narthex Resource Centre for refugees, migrants and people in need. She adds, “We’ll also be supporting the society’s internal ministries such as the JPIC Education programme promoting Laudato Si’ and the integrity of Creation amongst students in local religious schools. Besides this their inter-religious dialogue and intercultural programmes as well as Fatima House which offers sanctuary to destitute female asylum seekers in the city. We have also started our immersion in to new initiatives in Birmingham and recently attended Tuesday breakfast with the homeless led by ‘Let’s feed Brum’. So far, I have been enjoying my orientation programme and immersions and I believe my involvement in these ministries and projects will help me live out my faith in God.”
Columban missionaries have learned that the best and most effective way to address the pressing social issues of poverty, injustice and environmental degradation is by harnessing the collective wisdom and energies of the different communities and by doing things together with others rather than in isolation. It is this, along with the courage of Columbans to travel to challenging places to spread the Good News of Christ that particularly attracted Sophia to the Columban Lay Mission programme.
For further details about the Columban Lay Mission programme or to find out more about the Columban’s ministry in Britain, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Mission Office on 01564 772 096.