On Wednesday we had the funeral of Joe Houston.
People will remember him for different reasons: as a teacher, friend, scholar, Irish language enthusiast, dedication to China, mission-mindedness. But all will also recall his kindness, hospitality and humility. Yet Joe always had an ability to surprise, to show an aspect you never suspected.
Joe was born in 1940 in Belfast and got an MA in Celtic Studies at Queens University. After two years teaching he joined the Columbans. Ordained in 1969, he was sent to Rome of study philosophy.
In 1971 he was assigned to Chile where he spent four years before returning to teach in Dalgan. In 1981 he returned to Chile but when China was beginning to open to foreigners, in 1988 he requested to join Aitece as a language teacher in China. He taught in Beijing, Nanchang and Wuhan. In 2013 he became Aitece manager in Hong Kong where he remained until ill health made him return to Ireland in March this year.
He will be missed and remain an inspiration for many.