As we journey towards Pentecost, Fr. Peter Hughes, Columban Director in Britain, invites us to encounter Jesus ‘present and alive in others’ and welcomes your support for the work of Columban missionaries, who are discovering Jesus in people and places far beyond the familiar.
“The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium
Dear Columban friend,
With Easter joy still fresh in our hearts, talk of Pentecost might seem a little premature. Yet, Pope Francis says we are called to be Spirit-filled evangelisers, “fearlessly open to the working of the Holy Spirit” (Evangelii Gaudium, 259). The pilgrimage road we are invited to walk between Easter and Pentecost, like the Road to Emmaus, gives us time to reflect on what this means.
At times, it is tempting to look back at Jesus’ life and to admire him from afar, to see him as a role model and inspiration, but ever in awe of his majesty and perfection that we could never hope to live up to in our ordinary lives. For Columban missionaries, however, the centre of our life and mission is a person who walked on this earth, a prophet who by word and action proclaimed the liberating and transforming power of God, one who shared our human weakness and vulnerability, who passed through death to new life and who is present, alive and active in our world today.
Jesus invites us all to follow him, to identify with him, to take on his attitudes and values, to live as he lived, and to share in his mission. As Columban missionaries, we continually encounter Jesus present and alive in others—people who are like Jesus—most especially when we pass beyond what is familiar to us. Listening and learning, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and can become more like Jesus in our lives.
Anna Joy Marshall, in her winning entry to the Columban Schools Journalism Competition, which you can read in the Far East magazine, believes “there is a hunger in young people for doing good things” and gives the example of a boy who started a petition to get rid of plastic bottles in their school cafeteria. Elsewhere in the magazine, we hear of the growing demand for dignity from children in Peru and the determination of many to give them the chance to learn and live life to the full; Fr. Sean McDonagh recalls his pivotal, formative encounter with the Passionist priest and eco-theologian Fr. Thomas Berry; and Columban martyr Fr. Rufus Halley, who committed himself to a dialogue of life between Christians and Muslims, is remembered by one Muslim man as “truly a man of God”. These are all examples of how people have encountered Jesus in today’s world—ordinary lives transformed into extraordinary Jesus-like missionaries.
In truth, we see people like Jesus every day, but, like many bystanders two thousand years ago, we can be blind to his presence or hold back from an encounter, too timid to acknowledge him; fearful perhaps of where God is calling us.
Let us take encouragement from two young men recently ordained—Rev. Louis Ybañez of the Philippines and Rev. Teakare Betero of Fiji (pictured with his family)—whose hunger to do good things and be like Jesus, led them to answer God’s call to mission as Columbans. Please keep them in your prayers. Six people from Britain had the courage recently to take part in an ‘Invitation to Mission’ visit to the Philippines and you can read about their encounters on our website.
We greatly appreciate your kindness and generosity to Columban mission. May you and your family be filled with the Holy Spirit through your encounters with Jesus.
Fr. Peter Hughes SSC
Columban Director in Britain
Please donate to support Columban missionaries like Fr. Louis Ybañez and Fr. Teakare Betero.