A Columban in the making

by Guest Contributor

Matang, a Columban Priest in the making, shares about his calling to the Columban Missionaries and explains how a Columban visitor to his school changed his life.

A Columban in the making - Matang
A Columban in the making - Matang

My name is Matang, and my biological parents are Moaniba Rotitaake and Tokanikaiatetaanga Tumeka. When I was young, I was adopted by Maeke Batiata and Eritia Ibeata. I am 24 years of age, and I come from the island of Kiribati, known as Gilbert Island, in the Micronesian region of the Pacific (Oceania). The Kiribati islands are located across the equator and comprise 33 islands divided into three parts: Northern, Central, and Southern. I lived a traditional and simple life while growing up with my friends and family.

When I was studying at one of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) secondary schools called St Maria College, one of the Columban priests named Fr. Frank Hoare visited my school. He promoted ‘vocation’ to all the young male students and shared some of the magazines and played videos about the Columban missionaries, and how they had missions in different parts of the world. This insight interested me, and I felt a calling towards the Columbans. Though I wanted to join them, I could not due to my unfinished studies. But, later, another Columban priest, Fr. William Lee, visited Kiribati. I met him, and I expressed my interest in joining the Columbans.

I feel called because I am very interested to see and experience the Columban missionary way of life. I also am keen to see their work for Justice & Peace and Integrity of Creation, Inter-religious dialogue, solidarity with the poor, providing education for the poorest, and Evangelization. I hope my dream to become a Columban Missionary Priest will come true.

My favourite subject in my studies is Philosophy. I discovered that Philosophy is the fundamental nature of knowledge which is trying to expand and enlarge my understanding based on natural things. Philosophy does not need many answers but depends on asking questions, being a critic. However, Philosophy is not only a love of wisdom but also a willingness to learn and experience things that will help me to understand more and different kinds of phenomena and encourage me to explore and make meaning of my life. I am studying philosophy at the Loyola School of Theology and this will prepare me well for when I study theology in the years ahead.

I enjoy reading poems as I discovered many important messages and symbolic features related to real life and things happening around us. Along with the poems, I also like religious movies that teach me many aspects of missionary life in preaching the Good News. I am in year one of my Formation, and it is a valuable experience to explore, identify and discover all the many important aspects of my calling, like education and personal needs. Formation life is a big transition for me, as I am experiencing interactions with different kinds of people, cultures, and new environments that I haven’t experienced before. I have learned a great deal from them by living in the Formation community with my formators and brothers.