Renewal of Commitment

November 5, 2015

"Go in peace. Go in kindness. Go in generosity. This is a new opportunity. Remember that God loves you and that God is very pleased with you." These were the words of Fr. Dan O'Malley on his homily during the Eucharistic Celebration on the renewal of commitment and signing of agreement  of Marjorie Engcoy, Liezl Ladaran, and Mona Esteban for their mission in Fiji, and Nani Mounga for her long term commitment as Columban Lay Missionary in the Philippines. Nani signed her contract in Fiji prior to returning to Manila.  


Is There Hope

by Gertrudes Samson, Columban Lay Missionary
Britain, October 2015

For us Christians, we believe in Resurrection. Resurrection is coming back to life after being dead. Jesus died on the cross and was laid on the tomb, but after three days he resurrected! Because of that victory of Jesus over death, us Christians are filled with hope that there is no such a thing as a dead end situation. Thank you God, there is Resurrection! Therefore there is hope in every hopeless situation. But then, I must admit, there were times that I asked God: “How about for those asylum seekers seeking refuge in UK? Can I see hope for them?” Several months, prior to the end of my first three year-term in 2013, I remember myself starting to discern whether I would come back to Britain as a lay missionary to renew for another term. As I discerned, I said to God, “You know God, this help that you are asking from me seems endless... the number of asylum seekers (seeking refuge in UK) is not decreasing, and in fact they are continually increasing as war and conflict increase in different parts of the world". Aside from the news evidence, I myself could attest that indeed the statistics were increasing because I was in charge at that time of the statistics of asylum seekers availing of the services in one of my ministries. Many are not new, but in fact are waiting already for a long time to have "Leave to Remain" (legal status to stay in UK). Some have even been waiting for 10 years already. I recall them crying because of the difficulties and challenges of their situation. Though they know I am a Catholic lay missionary while they belong to another faith, still some of them say to me, "Sister, please pray for me I am having this problem..." Of course, in the Bible, as Christians we are instructed to pray at all times for every concern (Philippians). But, it also reminds us that we should accompany our faith with action (James). And we should show hospitality to strangers, because by doing this without us knowing it, we might have entertained Angels (Hebrew). I do pray for them, but I still try to match my faith with actions no matter how small it might be in the eyes of others. Mother Teresa said that, "not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love". Many asylum seekers thought that after they successfully completed their life-threatening exodus from their county and reached the UK, they were already in the Promised Land. They soon realised it would just be the start of another form of struggle towards their freedom. What are the challenges then of the lives of asylum seekers, and how can we respond? Actually, as I continually get involved in various charities and churches in Birmingham that are assisting them, I would say there are many challenges and my list is becoming longer.

Plan for Peace

by Jonah Jane Enterina, Columban Lay Missionary
Britain, October 2015

To be cared for
This verse has always been my guiding light since my college days. I regularly come across this verse in one way or another, especially when I feel the need to ask the Lord where I am heading. I just feel amazed at how time has flown by since I started at the Springfield Project, St. Christopher's Church. I volunteer for the ‘Crafts and Chat’ Women's group every Monday. I am blessed to meet women, mostly Muslims, who come to the group to relax, chat and mingle with other moms sharing about their families, children, and life in general. There are various activities we do. They range from doing arts and crafts to gentle exercises, cooking, knitting/crochet, sewing - to name a few. And through these activities, women find the time to do what they want and are very welcome to share their talents and abilities with the group and make it even more fun! I am thankful that for more than a year now, I have gained friendships with these women and I feel privileged when they invite me into their homes. We have table fellowship among different women coming from different faiths and backgrounds. It is nice to hear stories from other cultures and traditions. I would not have experienced this if I was not living here in a multicultural setting. I see myself at ease and at home because, I feel, they have welcomed me into their lives. I can remember one encounter I had with one elderly lady from Bangladesh, who told me while we did our knitting, “You can call me Grandma and I am happy to hear what you have to tell me”. At that moment I felt so grateful that even though I am far away from home, I realised that I do have a home here too.

To be accepted
Let me share the first time I went to volunteer at Stone Road Hostel. This is where asylum seekers live while waiting for their status to be assessed. They are here in the UK seeking refuge because of fear of persecution in their own country, unable to live safely. I knew that I was called to come and work here. I felt that I was drawn to go into the deep. I remember feeling scared when I entered the building, seeing people from different countries like Pakistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Syria and Afghanistan among many others. I had not felt before what it was like to be in this place, feeling the air of uncertainty, boredom and anxiety. There were men and women with children. What I see everyday in their faces is the question about where they will be after their stay in the hostel. One day, I and a co-volunteer for the Women's group challenged ourselves to knock on doors, hoping that we could invite more women to spend time with us as we distributed information about education and health which might be useful to them. For me, it was another spiritual encounter as I knocked on doors. I remember Jesus knocking on our doors. I was humbled at the thought that God called me to knock because there are people inside their rooms feeling depressed, with no friends and, despite my own fear of being ignored or not being invited into their lives, I still continue to ask the Lord to give me courage to do it. And now, every time we knock on doors, we are confident to call and invite them for we know that we are extending help in our own little ways. I feel inspired to continue doing the work God has given me because my heart leaps for joy as I see women and children leave the room with smiles on their faces after we have done activities together, like card-making or colouring books. I have read in newspapers how some people are not ready to mingle or welcome migrants maybe perhaps out of fear, but, to me, I would recommend taking courage and going into the deep and see, feel, witness the lives of these people. It may look really hard but I am blessed as I can relate to them. It gives me joy.  


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October 12, 2015


October 2015

Contract Signing of Irma Cantago

Contract Signing of Irma Cantago, September 30, 2015, Columban House, Manila.

After 22 years of mission work in Brazil and Peru, Irma Cantago is back in the Philippines. Welcome home Irma. We wish you every blessing as you continue your life journey in the Philippines.

By Rose Basada, Columban Lay Missionary, Britain
Rose Basada (left) with other participants 
Once again I attended the Flame National Catholic Youth event in the UK which took place in the Wembley Arena, London, last Saturday 7th March. It was a very moving event where thousands of young people, like me, from around the country gathered to share our faith.
The theme was ‘To rediscover our joy – The Joy of the Gospel’. It was very well explained by David Wells, when he said, “Pope Francis has called us to be a people of Easter, to rediscover our joy, to remember that we are joy-filled church” .
Philippine Cardinal Tagle shared the Mercy of God in the joy of the gospel. He inspired the young people to marvel on the many signs of mercy. At the same time he encouraged the youth to be aware as well of the many signs of lack of mercy: human trafficking, abuse, hunger, poverty and many more examples. He said that only mercy can save humanity, that God is known as the God of Mercy, of tenderness of compassion, of justice. And the mercy of God is related to the covenant relationship; when God said: ‘I am your God, you are my people’ (Exodus 6:7). I think Cardinal Tagle hit the core of his topic. He explained it clearly and shared some examples so that it will be well understood.
I was also moved when Baroness Hollins talked about Mental Health problems as there are so many young people these days experiencing these problems. She encouraged us to keep our minds well and to help others as well, being everyday a face of Jesus to others.
There was also live worship music by Matt Redman and he was great on stage. His songs were really inspirational and made the young and old sing and dance with his music.

Indeed, it was a very heart-warming event. I’m glad I participated as I also felt like I was able to rediscover joy and able to share my joy as a Columban lay missionary during lunch time activities. I was involved in a Columban workshop with ordained Columbans and co-workers. We went as a team and it was a very good experience for me. It was a great way to share joy and to be filled with joy.
The author in Britain

God, my gardener

by Joan Yap, Columban Lay Missionary

You can only fully appreciate life when you allow yourself to let go,  just like seeing the real beauty of a flower when its petals are opened.
Whenever I am in a retreat, I am always enamored by the beauty of the flowers in a garden. It gives me joy and tranquility whenever I gaze at their beauty and color. It gives me an opportunity to thank God of his magnificent creation. God is so perfect that he is able to give us all of these to appreciate. Everything undergoes a process of blossoming, such as life.
My life journey is not at all perfect but it is God’s loving care who perfected my imperfection. I was young and broken. I had my own weaknesses and limitations. I struggled to overcome my insecurities. I thought of so little about myself whenever I think of God’s other creation. I was lost and I could not find my own life. I was fragile but like the flower through the Maker’s hands, He slowly allowed me to open up at  His own time and space.

My vocation as Lay Missionary is one of the greatest turning point of my life that I blossomed to be where God wants me to be. It is where I find the invitation of God to let go of the many things that hinder me to grow and bloom. It is when I started to open up and His grace overflows. The real beauty of the vocation is opening our hearts to God. And in the heart of God, we find the true of meaning of love. And this is where we can reach others to love as we are loved by God. In being open to God’s grace, it is feeling the joy as I give myself to others.
The challenge I need is to fully trust in God. I am His creation. He knows me more than I thought I know myself. It is when I allow God to work in me, that I surrender my life in Him. My prayer is that God will teach me to be humble by accepting my own weaknesses and the courage to transform it as it becomes a  gift to others. My experience of His unconditional love saves me and keeps me grounded.
My yes to this vocation is a grace for me. I am forever grateful to God for this invitation of another 3 years. He has a way of courting me that I can’t refuse. It is my faith, that wherever I maybe, God will always find and lead me where He wants me to bloom. This vocation is a wonderful gift for me.  I have always said, it is a  journey of getting to know myself, others and most especially an invitation of being intimate with my God where there is no one I can cling on except to Him. As a line in a song says, “bloom where you are planted.” That’s how I see my life here in Taiwan… to be open in giving myself to others.

The flower blossoms itself to beauty because from the start, the maker/gardener knows how beautiful that flower is for his garden. God chose me to be here. I believe I am God’s own creation, in His own image and likeness. And like the flower, I just have to patiently allow God, the maker, the gardener to apply His expertise for the flower to bloom, and for me to grow faithfully in the loving hands of God.

TMU’s warm welcome when She, Reins, and I came back to Taiwan for
our second term as Columban lay missionaries