St. Columban’s Day, 2023 / Fr. Michael McGuire’s 40 Day of Remembrance
By Fr. Finbar Maxwell, SSC
The following are aspects of Columban mission spirituality: We are pilgrims and exiles for Christ; We belong to Christ and not to ourselves, and we come to know so much about God by looking at God’s creation. I invite you to take a moment to consider what these qualities might mean for you to in your life.
Among these qualities, I’d like to focus a little bit today on pilgrimage, which is a central part of Columban missionary life.
As we know, pilgrimage has many dimensions: it is both an outward journey and an inner journey, in which that outward journey, hopefully, mirrors and reflects the inner journey in it’s intention.
The pilgrimage journey isn’t only about the destination, but also about what is experienced along the way. This pilgrimage is done with Jesus and is therefore a journey in faith. And most often, it is a journey done with others.
Today we remember and celebrate two people for whom these qualities of pilgrimage were central to their lives: St. Columban himself, who is the 6th Century patron of Columban priests, Sisters, Lay Missionaries, Seminarians and Co-Workers, and our Columban priest / brother Michael McGuire who, 40 days ago, unexpectedly left us by his death and returned to God.
Both of these men, in their different lives and times, walked this earth in faith-filled pilgrim journeys. Both were men of vision, insight, courage and commitment: St. Columban in his missionary journey through western Europe, and Michael, for most of his missionary life here in the Philippines.
Many of you here were fortunate to know Michael: as a colleague at Our Lady of Peace Guidance Center; as a teacher in the work of formation; as a mentor, as a spiritual director or as a counselor.
My personal connection with Michael began in my 2nd year of formation in Ireland, in 1980, when I was preparing to be a Columban missionary priest. Michael was my spiritual director for 7 years of my formation, during which I met him every week.
I feel grateful to have had Michael as my guide during these formative / formation years. This was a good preparation for me, for the inner / outer pilgrim journey that is a life of Columban mission.
It’s hard to believe that 40 days have now passed since Michael left us early on that October morning in Cubao. During these 40 days, we’ve had time to reflect on his life and the many ways in which he touched and impacted the lives of so many people.
Like the encounter of the blind man with Jesus in the Gospel today, our encounters with Michael in his ministerial role were occasions in which many of us came to see things in a new way: in our personal lives, in our relationships with others, and in our relationship with God. For this, we remember and we give thanks.
Today we are beginning a 3-Day Triduum in honor of St. Columban. I think we could begin this 3-Day time of prayer as a ‘Triduum of Gratitude’; as a time simply to say Thanks to God for two very different men and their impact on the world: St. Columban and our Columban brother Michael.
Let’s pause for a moment, and together, in one voice, say Thank You!