In 1912 a young Irish priest, Father Edward Galvin, was inspired by the dream to bring the Gospel of Jesus to distant peoples, so he volunteered to go to China as a missionary. He was shocked at the poverty and wretchedness he found. However, he was even more appalled at the spiritual poverty. Here were millions of friendly and industrious people who, because of the lack of missionaries knew nothing of Jesus and His Gospel.
Father Galvin appealed to people back home by letter, and in 1915 two priest friends joined him in China. In turn they encouraged Father Galvin to return to Ireland to organise a mission society which would enable even more missionaries to come to China.
Half the world’s people are hungry … not just for bread, but for hope, and love, and the dignity that is the God given right of every person.
He shared his plan with many friends, and soon had quite a few volunteers ready to join him. A brilliant young professor, Father John Blowick, joined him and was given the task of establishing the mission to China.The great Irish missionary saint, St. Columban, was taken as the patron of the society, and so the Missionary work of St. Columban was established.
The Columbans have gone to lands where millions have never even heard the name of Christ, and to lands where Christ’s message has been largely forgotten or ignored. They have gone to preach, to baptize, to celebrate the Eucharist. They have climbed over mountains, cut through the jungles, sailed across stormy seas in order to build true Christian communities. They have had their heroes and martyrs, but mostly they have been just dedicated hardworking people with a mission.
For true missionary life the missionary must be with peoples of other lands, closely sharing other cultures, other languages and customs, other religions and idealogies. They share the struggles, the joys, the sorrows, preparing the way of the Lord, making Him somehow present in loving interest and concern.
Apart from the personal participation of New Zealanders in the Colomban missionary effort, there has always been a wish to share that effort with zealous people at home. These people have opened their minds and hearts to that missionary dream which missionaries exemplify. People at home are encouraged to participate in that mission work in other ways, such as prayer and sacrifice, interest and knowledge.
The people in the home churches should know what is happening in the mission world, and so the Colomban Mission House in Lower Hutt was established for this purpose in 1943. From there the Colombans are in contact with both the missionaries in the field and with the home Catholics who wish to be kept informed on mission.
New Zealand: information