We do live in unusual times.
At present priests, Sisters and lay people in China are contributing to an on-line collection for anti-viral masks to be sent to the Columban priests living in Dalgan Park and the Columban Sisters in Magheramore.
So far they have collected E5,000.
Those contributing have been sponsored by the Columbans in recent years to study a variety of subjects in Ireland, Rome and the USA.
Now they are all back in China serving Catholics there.
One hundred years ago, when the Maynooth Mission to China (now known as the Columban Fathers) was founded, the Irish people contributed their pennies and shillings to help the people in China suffering from famine, disease and the devastation of wars.
The Irish at that time were not rich, just as the majority of Chinese are not rich today. However as China begins to recover from the Corona virus those who have come to know Ireland are quick to show their concern and offer what they see as most urgent at this time.
In the early 1950s China broke off contact with the rest of the world, the Columbans were expelled and there was no news of what happened to the friends they had left behind. From the 1980s the country began to open up again and contacts were renewed.
One of the services the Columbans offered the Church in the New China was to help in the further education of Church leaders. The fruits of this are to be seen in the gift of masks at a time of need from their friends in China.