Happy New Year! It is probably fair to say that the passing from the old year to the new will carry more significance than usual on this occasion. The coronavirus pandemic has shaped our lives in ways few could have predicted. Its far reaching and devastating impact on so many people will be remembered for years to come. I pray that whatever your experience has been, you have known the consolation of God’s abiding love and you feel hopeful as we begin our journey together through 2021.
Columban missionaries are inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical ‘Fratelli Tutti: on fraternity and social friendship’, which resonates with the Columban experience of mission. A notable source for the encyclical is Francis’ dialogue with the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and their commonly held belief that “God has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and has called them to live together as brothers and sisters”. Francis calls us to share their dream and in their commitment to a world in which no one is isolated and all people matter. What does this mean for each one of us called to be a part of God’s mission?
We draw strength and encouragement for our mission work from the Columban community of ordained and lay missionaries, together with co-workers, and people like you who remember us in your prayers and provide us with the financial assistance we need. As we begin this New Year, we are ever more grateful for the blessing of this friendship and of our responsibility to give generously in return for all that we receive. May our 2021 calendar, our prayers and all that we share with you through our magazines, website, eNewsletter and social media serve to nourish and encourage you in the challenges and joys that lie ahead.
In 2020, we welcomed new lay missionaries to Britain – Roberta from Korea and Teresa and Sophia from New Zealand and we hope to welcome Fr. John Boles and Fr. Pat O’Beirne once travel restrictions are lifted.
Please pray for this new chapter in their mission life. We plan to begin again our annual ‘visit’ to parishes for the mission appeal, in the dioceses of Shrewsbury and Southwark and in Scotland; and we are exploring alternative ways to do this when we are unable to visit in person, so we can continue to share our rich mission experience with the local Church.
This year, let us pray the concluding prayer of ‘Fratelli Tutti’, printed on the back page of the 2021 Columban Calendar, or available below, and dream together of ‘a more dignified world’.
Fr. Peter Hughes
Columban Director in Britain
“God is love and those who abide in love abide in God. ”