Dear Columban Friend,
On behalf of the international Columban family I’d like to wish you a VERY HAPPY 2023. As a symbol of our thanks I’d like you especially and genuinely to receive this sentiment of “HAPPY”. We tend to use this word automatically, without really appreciating its significance. At times it almost seems inappropriate to use it, as we look at all the suffering there is in the world. However, it is a word close to my heart, and one that links me to the Columban Missionaries. Indeed, “Happiness, Come What May” could be our slogan.
Back in 1988 I was working as a postman in my native town of Stockport, trying to decide which group of missionary priests to join. Few seemed to be operating in more difficult and dangerous places than the Columbans, yet I was struck by how HAPPY they always seemed to be. It was one of the reasons I decided to join them – and I’ve never regretted it. Wherever Columbans are, no matter what setbacks we face, we never seem to lose our sense of good humour.
You only have to look at the things that we and the people we serve are enduring at present. Tightening political pressure in our first and longest mission of China. Human rights abuses under populist regimes in the Philippines. Grinding poverty, sectarian violence and monsoon floods in Pakistan. A military coup in Myanmar (Burma). South Korea under threat from the North, Taiwan similarly menaced by its neighbour. Lingering effects of the global Covid, migration and economic crises in Chile, Peru, Mexico, Fiji and elsewhere. Yet, through it all, the Columbans remain “happy”.
This isn’t a superficial happiness, but a faith-filled joy that comes from knowing how, sooner or later, good will conquer evil. God (in the words of Our Lady) will, “lift up the lowly, fill the starving with good things, cast unjust rulers from their thrones” (Lk. 1: 51-53).
Columbans are like St. Paul, “afflicted but never downhearted, persecuted but never forsaken, knocked down but never destroyed” (2 Cor. 4: 8-9). We always come out smiling – just look at this year’s pictures in our 2023 calendar!
So again – with feeling – thank you and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Fr. John Boles Columban Director in Britain
To request a hard copy of the 2023 Calendar please email firstname.lastname@example.org.