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Monday, 09 July 2018 17:43

Columbans celebrate 100 years of 'deep & earthy spirituality'

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0718ColumbansCentenary 350A “deep and earthy spirituality” of inclusiveness and hospitality marks the Missionary Society of St Columban, said Bishop Terry Brady at a Mass to celebrate the centenary of the Columbans.

The Catholic Weekly reports that Bishop Brady was the chief celebrant at a thanksgiving Mass for the Society’s centenary at the Mary MacKillop Chapel, North Sydney.

Columban Superior General Fr Kevin O’Neill, Fr Patrick McInerney, and Fr Charles Rue also celebrated the Mass.

In welcoming the congregation Fr McInerney SSC, who is the director of the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations in Sydney, said it was “delightful” to have an opportunity to “give thanks for all that God has given the society over the past 100 years”.

In his opening address Bishop Brady said it was fitting to celebrate the milestone at the start NAIDOC week because of the Columban priests’ deep connection with Australian Indigenous peoples.

Later he praised them for their unique spirituality and “great respect for different religions and cultures”.

“Through you, people are touched by Jesus himself,” he said.

“I love that there is no pretentiousness or pecking order among you. You are wonderful example of a really grassroots Church and many parts of our Church in these times can learn from you.”

The missionary society of priests work in 16 countries including: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Britain, Ireland, China, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Philippines, Taiwan, Pakistan, Chile, Peru, Brazil, and the United States.

It was founded in 1918 and takes its name from St Columban, Ireland’s sixth century missionary to Europe. Columban Fathers work in cooperation with lay people and Columban Sisters in solidarity with the poor and to promote justice and care of creation.

0718ColumbanCentenaryLecture 350Meanwhile in Melbourne, as part of the centenary celebrations, the Columban Mission held a lecture program entitled the ‘Mission today and tomorrow lectures’ .

The lectures featured Columban Fathers Noel Connolly and Patrick McInerney speaking on the role of the Australian church, evangelisation and social justice.

According to a report from the Archdiocese of Melbourne's Media and Communications Office featured on, Fr Connolly discussed the Columban missionary contribution to the Australian Church and the unique role of a returned overseas missionary in our contemporary multicultural church and society. He discussed the energy, hope and vision of the Columbans and of Catholics.

“Our gift is our experience of crossing boundaries,' he said. 

Fr McInerney spoke on the concept of dialogue as the new mode of mission and evangelisation for the 21st century. He discussed how interreligious dialogue should be acknowledged as one of the essential components of Catholic and Christian mission. He also spoke about the components of mission, including Christian presence, work for justice, liturgy, prayer, proclamation, and stewardship of creation. 

Fr McInerney also lead the acknowledgement to the traditional land owners and talked about how much reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is important to interfaith relations.

“Cultural and religious diversity is important to Australia, and has been always,” he said.

Both speakers praised the hard work of Columbans over the last 100 years and their dedication to the Columban motto 'Perigrinari pro Christo' ('We will travel for Christ'). 


TOP RIGHT: Fr Kevin O’Neill SSC, Fr Patrick McInerney SSC, Bishop Terry Brady, Fr Charles Rue SSC. Fr McInerney holds a message stick for reconciliation. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

BOTTOM LEFT: Fr Patrick McInerney speaking at the ‘Mission today and tomorrow lecture’ in Melbourne. Source: Archdiocese of Melbourne/

The Catholic Weekly story was written by Marilyn Rodrigues and can be accessed here.

The Columbans' website features the report on the Melbourne lecture.