30 June 2010
21 June 2010
Years ago I asked a six-year-old girl in a parish in Mindanao where I worked how many brothers and sisters she had. She told me that they were three: 'My older brother, me and the one with Mama' - meaning the one not yet born. This song by Aaron Lines, I Haven't Even Heard You Cry, reminded me of that incident. I found the link to the video in an email from LifeSiteNews.com. I had never heard of Aaron Lines before.
Watch the video to the very end!
Watch the video to the very end!
15 June 2010
Fr Tanvir O'Hanlon, 1945-2010. Photo by Fr Gary Walker after Easter 2010
Fr Tanvir O' Hanlon was laid to rest in St Columban's Parish, Greentown, Lahore, on Thursday, 10 June, after the Funeral Mass in Sacred Heart, Cathedral, Lahore. He lies beside Fr Pat McCaffrey who was laid to rest three weeks previously to the day.
Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad
The main celebrant was Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad Diocese, a long time friend of Tanvir and the Columbans. Two of Tanvir’s siblings traveled to Lahore for the funeral: Ned from his home place in Tarbert, County Kerry, Ireland, and Michael who is based in England. They managed to secure visas quickly through the help of Fr Pat Raleigh. (Fr Raleigh is Columban Vice-Director in Ireland and went with the first group of Columbans to Pakistan in 1979 after serving for eleven years in the Philippines).
It was a moving ceremony that was a fitting celebration of Tanvir's life and his passion for justice which evolved and integrated into a passion and care for all of Creation. At the introduction to the Mass, Gloria Canama described the life, faith and missionary journey of Tanvir. (Gloria Canama, from Tangub City, Misamis Occidental, Philippines, is a Columban lay missionary who has been in Pakistan since 1990). The homily was given by Fr Tomás King.
The gifts and symbols brought up in the offertory celebrated his life and mission in Ireland, Philippines and Pakistan.
Kerry jersey on the left. Photo taken 13 June 2010 as Kerry deafeated archrivals Cork by one point in a Munster Championship replay.
Kerry football jersey: Tanvir first expressed his passion for life as a footballer. He was captain of the Kerry minor team that won the All-Ireland Minor (Under-18) Football Championship in 1963. His football jersey symbolizes his gifts and talents and his ability to work in a team.
Neem Tree and Candle: These symbols represent healing, life and light. Tanvir was a healing and life giving presence in our midst.
Rural scene, Pakistan
Soil represents the places where Tanvir spread the good news through his life. We have gathered this soil from Mariamabad, Shekhupura, Shadbagh, Green town and brick kiln. This soil represents his entire life with the earth community, especially in Pakistan. We pray that the seeds he planted in this soil will flourish. The soil from his home place was thrown on his coffin while the soil from the places he worked was used by his brothers to plant the neem tree at the graveside.
County Kerry, Ireland
Globe: Tanvir's life reached far and wide. In the Philippines he was involved in building Basic Christian Communities. Here in Pakistan he reached out bringing new hope to the lives of many.
When Tanvir’s coffin arrived at the St Columban’s parish centre there were many people waiting to pay their respects. People queued up for the ‘Last Look’ after which prayers were said. Fr Robert McCulloch led the prayers at the graveside.
Darkness had fallen by the time burial was complete. The grave was covered with rose petals and flowers. Candles were lit and incense sticks lit. As people stood in silence in the light of the candles, it felt surreal, just unbelievable that in the space of 21 days, that two close friends; two stalwart, passionate and committed Columban missionaries, were laid to rest side by side in the soil of the ‘land of the pure.’ Two separate deaths, but in many ways one intense moment of grief.
In the words of W. B. Yeats: things have ‘All changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born.’
May they rest in peace.
10 June 2010
Fr Thomas O'Hanlon. Photo taken after Easter by Fr Gary Walker.
Fr Thomas 'Tanvir' O'Hanlon will be buried today in Lahore, Pakistan. He died there last Sunday night after a stroke. My classmate Fr Patrick McCaffrey died suddenly in Murree, Pakistan, on 18 May. Father Tommy O'Hanlon was at Father Pat's funeral only a few weeks ago. Today's funeral Mass will be in the same church, Sacred Heart Cathedral.
This message was sent by Fr Tomás King, Columban coordinator in Pakistan: Fr Tanvir (Thomas) O' Hanlon will be laid to rest, along side Fr Pat McCaffrey, in St. Columban's Parish, Lahore on Thursday 10th June, after 3.00pm Funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lahore. Today, Tuesday his two brothers Ned and Micheal were granted visas in the Embasy in Dublin and will travel to Lahore for the funeral.
The following death notice appeared in Irish newspapers:
The death has occurred of Fr Tommy O'HANLON of The Columban Fathers, Pakistan. Late of The Philippines and Dooncaha House, Tarbert, Kerry.
After a brief illness, in Lahore, Pakistan. Beloved son of the late Patrick and Mary O'Hanlon. Funeral Mass and burial in Lahore, Pakistan tomorrow, Thursday, June 10, 2010. Memorial Mass in St Mary's Church, Tarbert on Saturday, June 26, at 11am.
09 June 2010
I have been involved to a limited degree in working with the Deaf since 1992, after the death of Columban Father Joseph Coyle - we were not related - who was a pioneer in working with and for the Deaf in the Church in the Philippines. I regularly celebrate Mass in Sign Language. One of the tragedies in the Philippines is that young Deaf people are a very specific target of fundamentalist Christian groups with their roots in the USA. Young Deaf people here are easy targets for the simple reason that the Catholic Church has so far done very little to minister to them. This is not by design. Church leadership is generally on the side of the poor and those on the margins. So many are on the margins in the Philippines because of widespread poverty but the Deaf, most of whom are from poor families, are on the margins of the margins..
Cardinal Seán O'Malley OFMCap, Archbishop of Boston, celebrates Mass with the Deaf thereZenit.org carries this report on the recent Congress on the Deaf held in the Vatican. I've highlighted some parts and added [comments].
A congress on ministry with and for the Deaf was held in the Vatican recently and there are a couple of reports below.
Conclusions of Vatican Congress on the Deaf
"Herald and Witness of the Proclamation of the Gospel"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the executive conclusions adopted by the Congress on the Pastoral Care of the Deaf entitled "Ephphata! The Deaf Person, Herald and Witness of the Proclamation of the Gospel," which ended Sunday in the Vatican.
* * *
At the end of this Congress on Pastoral Care, entitled "Ephphata! The Deaf Person, Herald and Witness of the Evangelical Proclamation," organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, the instruments were defined for the realization of some priorities in the ambit of the integration of deaf persons in ecclesial life and more generally in society. [Deafness cuts off a person in a way that another disability doesn't. A person born deaf has no common language with his parents or with the community, including the Church community, unless he and they learn Sign Language. In my experience, the only 'native signers' I have come across are the hearing children of Deaf parents. The isolation of a deaf person is added to if his family lives in a relatively remote area and is very much added to by poverty.]
In this second stage of the dicastery's commitment to those affected by deafness, recommendations were received and began to be implemented which arose at the end of the International Conference "Ephphata! The Deaf Person in the Life of the Church," held last November in the Vatican. This result was obtained thanks to the active participation and support of exponents of the pontifical council and of other Vatican offices, of the Italian episcopal conference and of the dioceses of Rome, Bari, Brescia, Foggia, Chieti, Crotone, Padua, Patti, Vicenza, Bologna, Palermo, Sulmona, Aquila, Imperia, Agrigento, Teramo, Assisi, Florence, Foligno, Frosinone, Salerno, Milan, Trani, Modena, Tursi-Lagonegro, Venice, Messina, Perusa, Terni, Rimini and Pordenone. Added to them are the religious personnel, specialists and volunteers. A great contribution was also made by the representatives of the Church in America, Spain, Ireland, and Germany, who came to Rome for the Congress. [No Asian countries mentioned.]
These are, in synthesis, the priorities and instruments delineated during these working days:
1. To offer local and particular churches the instruments to begin to work "for and with" deaf persons, [Deaf people are not persons 'to be helped' but to be enabled, with their full cooperation, to become fully active members of the Church and of society, both giving and receiving] beginning both from specific elements for pastoral programming as well as multimedia subsidies. Among the latter, visual DVDs, which contain the translation in sign language, which will be used as an aid in the course of formation and participation in the life of the ecclesial community. [Hearing people need to be made aare of the needs of the Deaf and to be enabled to communicate with them.]
2. To take care and spread with particular commitment the "formation of formators," in the first place of future priests, of religious personnel and of all pastoral agents. [Some countries have Deaf priests and some have hearing pirests involved in full-time ministry with the Deaf. There are no deaf priests in the Philippines and very few priests in full-time work with the Deaf. By 'deaf priests' here I mean priests who were born profoundly deaf or became so while young, not priests who have grown deaf, ie, hard of hearing, as they grow older. though that can be isolating too its a different reality from that of the person born deaf.]
3. As it emerged in this congress, it is considered of essential importance that, for example, in seminaries it be possible to come close to the reality of deaf people by learning: the basis of sign language, their historical and personal experience, that is, the difficulties they meet in society and in school, as well as in the Church. Such an outline of formation, with the due adaptations, can be used everywhere. [I don't think that the average seminarian, or the average priest, has any idea of the situation of Deaf persons. This is not a condemnation of them but an observation. There are some priests and lay persons who consider a signing interpreter at Mass as a 'distraction'. When there are regular Masses with a priest who sings or with an interpreter hearing people gradually come not to notice while the Deaf are made part of the worshipping community.]
4. To make permanent, in the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, the study group announced during the international conference. This organism will make possible the necessary qualities and uniformity of work carried out in this realm.
5. To create an Internet reference space, useful for the diffusion of initiatives, as well as for communication and exchange among those who work in the pastoral care of deaf persons. [The internet is a place where a deaf person can function on equal terms with hearing persons.]
6. To promote an ad hoc certification for those in the ecclesial realm translating into sign language. It is considered essential that a distinction be made between the "translator" and the "facilitator." The latter must have sufficient religious competencies to enable him to follow correctly, for example, the course of a Eucharistic liturgy, the course of the religious function.
Finally, all the participants in the congress committed themselves to see that these operative conclusions are quickly made concrete, in response to what has been requested by merit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and recalled during the opening of the works of this congress by the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski.
Vatican City, June 6, 2010
[Translation by ZENIT]
One paragraph in this reports reads: The prelate (Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski) pointed out that it is important that Christians "recall the mandate received at baptism and work for the diffusion of the Gospel through personal commitment and witness, becoming true 'heralds and witnesses,' even if they cannot hear or are close to persons affected by deafness." [In other words, the Deaf have the same obligation as hearing persons to witness to the Gospel. but as tings are now, especially in the Philippines, hearing people have to enable the Deaf to claim their rightful place in the Church].
07 June 2010
Father Tommy was given the name 'Tanvir' by an elderly man shortly after his arrival in Pakistan. The name means 'inner light'. Father Tomás King, the Columban coordinator in Pakistan, said of our late confrere, 'Tanvir has passed on but his light burns in the lives and memories of the people he encountered and touched. he was passionate for justice which in later years evolved into a passion for the care of the Earth.' He had a doggedness about him too that could be exasperating at times but was never obstructive or negative. Something of his passion is captured in the photo above, which appeared in the American Columban magazine, Columban Mission, in 1996, as did the other photos here.
04 June 2010
President-elect Benigno C. Aquino III of the Philippines
Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, one of the top journalists in the Philippines, raised this question in a front-page story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the most widely read broadsheet in the country, on Sunday 23 May. Her article also appears on her blog, Human Face by Ceres. Human Face is the name of her weekly column in the same paper:
IN SPIRITUAL LANGUAGE it is called “the grace of office.”
Could presumptive president-elect Sen. Benigno Aquino III and the nation that has apparently elected him by a landslide count on that?
It is said that when God invites or calls an individual to undertake a task, He also provides him the grace to carry out that task or calling.
“The grace of office” has often been used in the context of a religious vocation, especially for those in leadership positions, their imperfections, weaknesses and reluctance notwithstanding.
Biblical times and even contemporary history have seen ordinary persons rise to the task, strengthened only by their belief in God’s calling and their faith in the accompanying grace that would help them carry out their destiny.
There were those who rose and fell, as there were those who fulfilled their mission with humility and obedience.
You can read the full article, with the comments of various theologians in the Philippines, here.
I don't recall anyone raising the question of 'grace of office' when David Cameron was chosen as prime minsiter of the UK after the elections there on 6 May, four days before the elections here in the Philippines. Mr Aquion, known as 'Noynoy', has not been officially declared the winner but there is no doubt whatever that he is the choice of the people. Though he didn't reach 50 percent he got more votes than the second and third candidates together.
St Thomas More (1478-1535)
Politicians are often held in disdain and in many cases there is good reason for that. But the Christian politician, like everyone else, is called to become a saint. the patron saint of politicians and lawyers is St Thomas More. Here in the Philippines most elected officials at higher level are lawyers while teachers sataff the polling booths. In Ireland a huge percentage of members of the parliament and senate are teachers by profession.
Above left, Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954), right, Robert Schuman (1886-1963)
Below, Julius Nyerere (1922-1999)
I'm aware of at least three 20th century politicians whose causes of beatification have been initiated, President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Alcide De Gasperi, post-war prime minister of Italy, and Robert Schuman, post-war prime minister of France, the latter two considere the founders, with Konrad Adenauer of Germany, of the European Economic Community that grew into the European Union.
Robert Schuman once said of St Columban, from whose life journey this blog takes its name, that he was 'the patron saint of all who seek a United Europe'.
Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, one of Vatican II's most important documents, speaks at length on the place of politics in the life of the Christian and the Christain community. Here is one brief extract from No 73: It is clear, therefore, that the political community and public authority are founded on human nature and hence belong to the order designed by God, even though the choice of a political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free will of citizens.
God has certainly called Noynoy Aquino to serve the people of the Philippines as president for the next six years. This does not mean that he cannot make any mistakes. It simply means that the Holy Spirit will guide him if he asks for that guidance - and if we ask for that grace for the new president.