28 May 2021
2021 Mid-year Appeal Newsletter
To All Our Companions in Mission
Greetings. I hope you are all keeping warm as we approach winter.
Recently I have been thinking about the future of Columban mission. Mission is about crossing boundaries and reaching out to the marginalized and excluded. Mission is about people sharing the conviction that Jesus Christ has risen and wanting to tell others this Good News. But it is more than simply passing on a message, it is showing people how to live out this message in the way we live and relate to those around us.
Now this challenge to live out the call to mission in what we say and do is particularly demanding in a digital world, a world where we are increasingly dependent upon internet technology to communicate with one another. The problem is that we grow distant from one another, even more so in a post-COVID 19 world. I depend upon internet applications, like messenger and zoom, to meet with people and talk to them. Strangely enough, this can be a Godsend in a world where travel is severely restricted. At least we can keep in touch with one another; we can still have meetings which can involve people across the world. But, in growing closer by means of internet technology, we can become more distant from the real world of poverty, homelessness and desperation.
What our Columban stories and photographs do is help all of us to remain aware and to see that there are places beyond our digital, sanitized “bubbles”. In these places people struggle to live. In these places people are hardly likely to be engaged in social distancing or to regularly use hand sanitizers and mobile phone tracers. In some places they live in confined or shared spaces and share the same cooking and eating utensils and drink from the same cups.
Father Dan O’Connor helping school children in Pakistan
So, the challenge of Columban mission is not just to learn languages. It is to connect with people by visiting them, spending time with them, listening to their stories and searching for ways to overcome difficulties they have in providing food for families, adequate shelter, educational facilities, and basic medical facilities. As we find our way beyond a virus-infected world, Columban missionaries play a vital role in keeping us in touch with one another. They continue to tell us the stories of people who are struggling to live in places where their medical facilities struggle to deal with the increasing numbers of people infected by COVID 19. As Columbans, we also draw attention to the fact that we depend on each other, that the future of our planet depends on our willingness to change the ways we live to ensure that we are not demanding more than what our planet can provide and to safeguard our planet in such a way that it can ensure a decent life for all.
As we move into a world that raises new challenges for living out our call to mission, we are very grateful to your continued generous support. Your support supports the work of our missionaries in Pakistan, Myanmar, Taiwan, China, South Korea, Japan, Fiji, Chile and Peru.
Children in Fiji walking through flood waters after Cyclone Yasa
We will continue to pass on the stories through The Far East and our other forms of media – the Columban websites and Facebook. In this way, you can see how you are a very vital part of this ongoing call to mission. We depend on you. The people among whom we live and work depend on you.
On behalf of our Columban sisters and brothers, working in various places across the world, I thank you. May God bless you and keep you safe. And may we look towards a time when COVID 19 will a memory of the past and we will have a greater sense that we all share in the goodness and the fruits of God’s creation.
Fr Tom Rouse
Columban Leader New Zealand
Support the Columban Midyear Appeal 2021.
St Columbans - Lower Hutt
St Columbans Mission Society
PO Box 30-017
Lower Hutt 5040
Phone: 04 567 7216