Two Eras, Two Chinas

Compare the two halves of the first photo.

The top half shows the first batch of Columbans on their way to China in 1920. All in their clerical outfits. Within a few years two of them had been killed by Chinese bandits, a number had to return due to broken health and most of the rest were expelled in 1952 by the Communist government.

Now look at the lower picture. Today’s young Columbans, not much different in age from the pioneers but with different clothes and backgrounds. Do they share the same values?  They would express their sense of purpose differently but they go out with the same intention of giving hope that there is more to life than people may presently feel.

On 14 November, in Maynooth College, the evening that those 17 Columbans set out for China from Maynooth was remembered. As on that occasion, there was Evening Prayer with the students, a meal with the staff and students, but instead of heading straight off to the boat for China the Columbans who had attended headed back to Dalgan and the seminarians to their studies.  But all took with them a sense of awe and admiration for those who had set out so fearlessly almost a hundred year ago.   

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