Weekly Reflections

Weekly Reflections on Justice are written by the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach staff, volunteers, interns, and visiting Columban Missionaries. We hope these reflections help to guide you on your own spiritual journey working toward justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.

  • A Small Boat in the Storm

    This past weekend, we all began celebrations for the Fourth of July—the day of our country’s independence. People come from all over the country to celebrate here in Washington, D.C. Though I should be celebrating, I can’t help but think about what else is happening here in our nation’s capital. Day after day, the Columban Center and our partner organizations defend the rights of the poor and vulnerable before policy-makers and government officials. Now, more than ever, it seems those communities are not being supported and are under attack...

  • The D.C. Effect

    My first visit to Washington D.C. was a short one, three days to be exact. Before arriving, I had settled on a short list of things I needed to see in my short time here: visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Archives. Little did I know the profound effect visiting these places would have on me. After a tour of the Holocaust museum, I was lead into a small lobby where a poster read: “The next time you witness hatred, the next time you see injustice, think about what you saw....

  • Our Responsibility

    In Laudato Si Pope Francis reminds us, faithful servants, of our responsibility toward the environment, our common home. He reminds us that the elements of the world are connected, and he emphasizes the dignity and importance of each person, calling special attention to the connection between the poor people of the world and the environment. In Laudato Si Pope Francis offers a reflection on some of the ills that endanger our planet: various kinds of pollution, global warming...

  • Dreams Do Come True

    I first encountered Tien in Tokyo. He had traveled there from Australia, while I had come from Ireland. Both of us were Columban seminarians who had come to Japan in order to study the language and learn about missionary life. Both of us were twenty-seven years old. During the next few years as I came to know Tien, I realized that while both of us had similar dreams for the future, his past had uniquely prepared him to become a Columban missionary. One of thirteen children, Tien grew up in Vietnam as communism...

  • Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us

    This week marks the end of the Easter season and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Spring is fast giving way to summer, although the change of seasons is more and more marked by the disruptions in our climate. More and more people in the world are on the move, crossing borders in search of refuge. The present is filled with anxiety and the future with uncertainty. In times such as these, we look to the past for wisdom, and ask: How did previous generations deal with crisis? We live somewhere...

  • The Joy of Welcoming the Stranger

    Parishioners at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Kapaa on the Island of Kauai in Hawaii are known for their tradition of warmly greeting visitors and their outreach to those in need. At each liturgy, a parishioner with a big smile encounters a visitor and warmly says, “Aloha.” Then, each visitor receives beautiful hand-knit lei from the parish. When my spouse and I received our leis, a parishioner told us that each lei represents joining St. Catherine of Alexandria Church with each visitor’s home parish to make one community...

  • The Mysterious Journey

    As a teenager I browsed whatever reading materials were left around my home: Sunday newspapers that my father enjoyed; novels that my older brother and sisters considered worthwhile; and religious magazines that my mother read at the end of her busy days. These materials expanded the horizons of my world and beckoned me to explore the strange but fascinating world that adults inhabited. Stories about missionaries in far-off lands that I occasionally read in the religious magazines...

  • The Seeds of Mother’s Day: A Proclamation for Peace

    More than 130 years ago, noted American activist Julia Ward Howe first proposed the concept of Mother’s Day. Howe was a prominent abolitionist who served as one of the catalysts promoting emancipation of slaves and, later, women’s suffrage. A woman of deep religious conviction, Howe became increasingly convinced that war was an inappropriate means for furthering her social justice ideals and believed that these issues, which she cared deeply about, should instead be pursued nonviolently.

  • A Long-Distance Phone Call on Mother’s Day

    On this Mother’s Day, I will be sure to call my mom. Even across the world from her, I will remember the second Sunday of May, a day on which I always tell my mother how grateful I am to be her son. But on this Mother’s Day, May 14, I will challenge myself anew to acknowledge and express gratitude to the many other supporters of their families whom I encounter, even those who don’t lead their families in exactly the same way as my mother leads mine. Mariel has seen her 16-year-old son only a handful of times...

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