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COLUMBANS: PRIESTS OF THE PEOPLE

by Anonymous last modified Sep 13, 2019 05:15 AM

The nature of the society’s mission has always leaned on what the local church needs in concurrence with the political and social climate of the country. From sacramental work into building communities, the mission later involved working for justice, peace and social action. When asked on where he thinks the Columbans see themselves in the future, amidst the rapidly evolving society, he answered, “I think a lot of us are influenced with what’s happening around us. We’re priests of the people. So, wherever they’re in need, that’s where we’ll go.”

COLUMBANS: PRIESTS OF THE PEOPLE

 by Daniella Clemente


Daniella is the Assistant Editor of the Columban Missionaries’ publications in the Philippines. This article is based on the interview she conducted with Fr. Michael Cuddigan for the Columbans’ 90 years celebration of mission in the Philippines. Father Michael is presently assigned in Hong Kong.

 

priests

Columban Missionaries, priests and lay, Mindanao District

Convention, January 27, 1998, Catadman, Ozamiz City

    It has been a long time since Fr. Michael Cuddigan was assigned to the Philippines, but the way his eyes softened their focus, while he recalled details about his life and mission, says that he remembered the days as if they were only yesterday. He spent most of his youth in Mindanao, moving from one province to another in a span of about 20 years, with assignments ranging from parish and retreat works to formation and vocation. Life wasn’t easy. There was a time when he questioned the point of his missionary life, when the excitement of the initial years was gone. He confessed, “There was fear, I think, in the sense of vulnerability in the face of challenges and the hugeness of the mission.” He first came to the country, with its unfamiliar culture and landscape, without a hint of what to do. All he banked on was the model of the local church in Ireland, like the founding Columbans before him, including his uncle, Father Michael Cuddigan, after whom he was named. One might say, that they had brought the Irish Church with them.

     The nature of the society’s mission has always leaned on what the local church needs in concurrence with the political and social climate of the country. From sacramental work into building communities, the mission later involved working for justice, peace and social action. The time of martial law, for instance, instigated political turmoil and violence for those trying to facilitate justice for the poor. There was huge polarization in the society, and people from both sides of the conflict paid careful attention to what priests had to say. “The Columbans were challenged to review within themselves their priorities,” as Father Mick eloquently recalled. Looking back, not only did they have to deal with external pressures but more often than not, grappled with their consciences as well. In times like this, Father Mick had to remind himself, “You made that decision between you and God. So, like marriage or others, you constantly commit yourself in theface of difficulties.”

    When asked on where he thinks the Columbans see themselves in the future, amidst the rapidly evolving society, he answered, “I think a lot of us are influenced with what’s happening around us. We’re priests of the people. So, wherever they’re in need, that’s where we’ll go.”

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