We are called to be peacemakers.
For nearly 100 years, Columbans have worked in countries torn by violence and war. In these situations they have worked to heal, reconcile, build bridges, and create mutual understanding through prophetic dialogue. Central to this mission is a commitment to building communities of peace.
“We choose to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence that reflects an inner well-being, just social and economic structures, active non-violence in the face of oppression, and a Christ-like peace that fosters a sense of inter-connectedness and solidarity with all living things.”
We advocate for human rights.
Columbans have been at the forefront of defending human rights, opposing torture and enforced disappearances, and supporting victims of torture and families of the disappeared. For this commitment, Columbans have been imprisoned, kidnapped and expelled under military governments in Chile, Peru, Korea and the Philippines. This in turn has deepened our commitment to active nonviolence. Columbans call for an end to torture everywhere, and respect for the basic human rights of all people.
We advocate for a culture of peace.
Faced with a culture of violence, the expansion of a military presence around the world, and a growing arms industry, Columbans work to cultivate a culture of peace and nonviolence. For nearly 70 years, Columbans have served in Japan and other parts of the world where nuclear weapons threaten global peace and stability. As members of Pax Christi International, Columbans call for an abolishment of nuclear weapons and a development of a moral framework that supports just peace and nonviolence as alternatives to war.
Columbans work closely with indigenous communities in Chile, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines and Taiwan to build relationships of mutual respect and cooperation, and to defend and protect indigenous lands and cultures.
Peace and Nonviolence Resources:
At the heart of the Columban mission is cross-cultural exchange, the belief that God speaks to us through the experiences of others, particularly those who are marginalized or living in poverty, and that we should open our hearts to learn from those experiences. As St. Columban puts it: “a life unlike your own can be your teacher.”
Columban Fr. Tomas King accompanies the Parkari Kohil tribal people of Pakistan. He sees firsthand the corrosive effects of poverty, corruption, and violence on his neighbors. In Pakistan, one out of every fourteen children die before the age of one and this wouldn’t be so, Fr. Tomas asserts, if a large fraction of the country’s financial resources weren’t wasted on corruption and unnecessary military spending.
On a Sunday afternoon in February 2012, Columban Fr. Pat Cunningham got ready to attend Mass on the rock of Gureombi, a volcanic rock plateau on Jeju Island, South Korea. The rock “had sacred significance for the villagers,” said Fr. Pat, “as it was a ‘living rock’ and therefore intimately tied up with [the] identity [of the] village people – a place where people from the 400-year-old village used to celebrate their ceremonial rites.”
Columban Fr. Neil Magill helps run a “Higher Education Center” in Myanmar (formerly, Burma) that trains young adults living in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps to be teachers and development workers. That’s where he met Patrick in 2017.
On a Sunday afternoon in October 2016, after Columban Fr. John Kennan had finished celebrating mass in a shantytown in Manila, a couple invited him to bless their house. “Filipinos will not sleep in a house where a murder has been committed until it has been blessed.” Fr. John heard from the couple that a police officer killed their brother as part of the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”
During Advent, God makes us a promise: “I will make a just shoot spring up for David; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be saved and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; this is the name they shall call her: ‘The Lord our justice.’”
Copyright © 2019 Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Washington, D.C.