Today we honor St. Columban and his followers

Wednesday, 11/23/16

The Church today honors St. Columban who lived 1500 years ago. Let’s look at how he fit into those years. Pope Celestine I, in the year 430, sent Patrick to Ireland as its first bishop. In the following decades, the barbarian invaders from the East brought an end to all European civilization. Not a school, not a town was left. And bears roamed freely everywhere.

But in Ireland, a monk called Finian had secreted away the Bible’s scrolls as well as copies of the best of Greek and Roman literature; and at a place called Clonard, Finian set a team of young monks to work, making copies of all the fine religious and secular literature.

In 600 Columban, one of Finian’s monks crossed into a bear-infested France, Italy and Scotland , setting up monasteries and schools, bringing about a re-birth of Western Civilization.

Coming down almost to the present, in 1910, little Ireland had as many priests as the rest of Europe and Asia, and the major seminary, Maynooth, began sending its surplus priests to China the Philippine’s. South America, Burma.

The pope from 1914 on, Benedict 15, asked them to take as their patron that Columban who spread the faith fifteen centuries ago. By 1965 the Columbans had a thousand priests, founding parishes and seminaries all over Asia and South America.

As a seventeen-year-old I joined the Columbans in 1947, and at the end of the Korean War in 1953 I was sent over there to start a parish in North Korea. We had 100 of us Columbans re-building the Church in Korea, but now we have been replaced by fine Korean priests who took over from us. We have alsop been replacedin Burma the Philppines and elsewhere. We are happy to have served as the Church’s Commandos.   

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