One hundred years ago a small group of priests set out from Maynooth College for China, a country on the far side of the world that they knew little about except that it could do with their help. With the transport of that time, it would take them over two months to get there and they did not know when they would return.
The group became known as the Maynooth Mission to China, later as the Columban Fathers, and since then they have sent hundreds of priests and other missionaries not only to China but to Korea, Japan, Burma, the Philippines and South America. On 20 October a symposium entitled, ‘Maynooth, Ireland and the Far East,’ was held in the History Department of Maynooth College to commemorate the event.
Today entry to China is restricted but young Chinese Church leaders are now coming to Maynooth to broaden their experience and education.
According to the Chinese Ambassador, there are over 10,000 Chinese students in Ireland in various institutes. The Columbans are now planning ways of welcoming them and helping them in their needs here in Ireland.
Photos: Fr Neil Collins telling the story and Paul Dang, a Chinese student at Maynooth.