Columbans Ireland

Oct 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Far East May/June 2017 Far East Editorial - May/June 2017

Far East Editorial - May/June 2017

Email Print PDF
editorial cover_picAlmost 100 years ago the Columban Fathers were established as the ‘Maynooth Mission to China’. Their magazine was, not surprisingly, called ‘The Far East’, and for many decades the front cover showed a Chinese junk in full sail.

A lot has happened since then. The last Columban was expelled from China in 1954. After a few tentative efforts to set up a ‘listening post’ on the edge of China in Hong Kong, an office was finally opened there in 1987. The number of personnel assigned to Hong Kong and the mainland increased from then on, leading to the creation of a ‘China Mission Unit.’

As China cautiously reopened to the wider world in the 1980s, Fr Edward Kelly led the efforts to renew contact with the areas in which Columbans had worked. Astonishingly, after 30 years of silence, it was discovered that there were priests, Sisters and lay people there who still warmly remembered the Columbans and welcomed them back.

Since then Columban activities in China have followed two paths.

One is to help the re-emerging Church in China, with its large number of youthful leaders, to get the further training they need to face the challenges of today. Columbans based in Hong Kong and the mainland have built up good relationships not only with the areas in which the Columbans worked but in other corners of that immense country. They have sponsored young Church personnel to come to Ireland. Some are studying in Maynooth – a return to the roots from which the Society emerged.

Since the late 1980s, a small number of Columbans have worked to support the local Chinese Church. They have also managed two organisations, one named AITECE (see in Ireland and Cultural Exchange with China ( in the UK. These facilitate volunteers to go to China and teach English in third-level institutes. Over 400 young and old have gone to different parts of China since then, enjoying immensely the experience of working with young people there.

Celebrating 100 years of involvement in China has spurred the Columbans to broaden contacts between China and Ireland. There are approximately 60,000 Chinese in Ireland at present, studying or working, and many Irish people active in China. How this exchange develops remains to be seen but we look forward to your support and involvement. If you are interested in knowing more about China or serving there as a Columban or as an associate of the Columbans, contact us. We will welcome your interest in continuing a 100 year tradition.

Hugh MacMahon spent most of his life in Korea and China and is now in charge of the AITECE programme in Ireland. (cf pages 14-15)
Missionaries -  we're just trying to match the generosity of those with whom we work and those who support us.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

I accept cookies from this site.

EU Cookie Directive Module Information