Iowane Naio and Francis Xavier with others at the diaconate ordination. Photo: St Columbans Mission Society.
Rev Iowane Naio from Fiji Islands and Rev Francis Xavier La Aung Nbwi from Myanmar were ordained to the diaconate on September 16, 2023 in the Columban International Theologate House in Cubao, Quezon City in the Philippines.
Francis Xavier is the first Kachin permanent member of the Missionary Society of St Columban.
According to Fr Eamon Sheridan who attended the ceremony and works in Kachinland, “It was a beautiful diaconate ordination service. The bishop was wonderful and made it very personal.”
He added, “May God bless Iowane and Nbwi La Aung in their ministry. I imagined all the Columbans who worked in Myanmar in heaven, filled with great joy celebrating the first Kachin to become a Columban.”
Iowane Naio from Fiji joined the Columban Formation Programme in 2014. He studied for two and a half years in the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji before moving to the Philippines in 2016 to continue his theological studies. His First Mission Assignment Programme was spent in Peru. During his two years there he worked in the Parish of Holy Archangels in Lima.
Francis Xavier La Aung Nbwi is the first seminarian from Myanmar to come through the Columban seminary system. He grew up in the Kachin area of Myanmar, an area evangelised by the Columbans from the 1930s until 1979 when political events drove them out of Myanmar (formerly Burma). Francis is from the village of Mongkawng in the Diocese of Bhamo. Its first prefect Apostolic was Columban Mgr Patrick Usher. Francis studied philosophy as a diocesan seminarian and then joined the Columban programme and continued his studies in Manila, Philippines. He was assigned to Fiji for his two-year First Mission Assignment (FMA).
He arrived in November 2019 and his introduction to Fiji was the ordination of Columban Fr Teakare Betero on the island of Rabi. It took 24 hours to get there by buses and boats. Francis’ ordination is historic for the Missionary Society of St Columban.
Please pray for these two young missionaries and for the Columban Mission worldwide.
Iowane Naio and Francis Xavier with other Columbans and students during Final Aggregation ceremony that happened a day before. Photo: St Columbans Mission Society.