From the Director - New Oceania Leadership

new leadership team

"Columban would often seek quiet places in nature where he would contemplate God. In one of his Sermons, he wrote: “If you want to know the Creator you must first know His creation". 

The new Columban Regional Council of Oceania began its ministry of leadership on the feast day of St Columban, 23 November.

I was appointed by our Society Leader as the Regional Director for three years and our four Regional Councilors were elected by the respective Members in Australia, Fiji and Aotearoa New Zealand. Fr Felisiano Fatu from Tonga is our Vice-Director and works at our Columban Mission Office in Suva, Fiji.

Fr Jung Euikyun Carlo from Korea is the Parish Priest of Holy Family Parish, Labasa, Fiji. Fr Patrick McInerney is the Director of our Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, Blacktown, Sydney, and Fr Tom Rouse works at our Columban Mission Office in Lower Hutt, New Zealand.

Our Columban co-workers, Maha Shawky, Regional Business Manager and Katarina Mukai, Columban Lay Missionary Coordinator, work collaboratively in leadership with our Regional Council.

Our new leadership team has a rich diversity of cultural heritage. We are from Australia, Egypt, Fiji, Korea, New Zealand and Tonga. Our Columban missionary journeys have taken us to countries beyond our homelands - Chile, Fiji, Japan, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru and Taiwan. In our lives as missionaries we have learned the truth of St Columban’s words: ‘A life unlike your own can be your teacher’. The many people of different nationalities, cultures and faiths we have been blessed to live among have become our teachers.

I previously worked in the diocese of Hsinchu, Taiwan for twenty-six years before returning to Australia in July 2017 to take up my new appointment as our Columban Peace, Ecology and Justice Coordinator in Australia. While in Taiwan I worked as the Diocesan Migrant Chaplain, Director of the Columban Hope Workers Centre and Director of the Hsinchu Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Centre. Both Centres provide pastoral and social services to migrants, trafficked peoples, immigrants and their families.

Celebrating during St Columbans Day Mass the new ordination of the Oceania Regional Director Fr Peter O'Neill and the Oceania Councillor Fr Patrick McInerney. - Photo: Missionary Society of St ColumbanCelebrating during St Columbans Day Mass the new ordination of the Oceania Regional Director Fr Peter O'Neill and the Oceania Councillor Fr Patrick McInerney. - Photo: Missionary Society of St Columban

I also supervised one of the diocesan shelters where I lived with migrant men from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam who were victims of labour exploitation. We created a harmonious multicultural and multifaith community of Muslims, Buddhists and Christians. Every day I saw the face of Jesus in the lives of the migrants who were used and abused by their employers.

A major part of my ministry was working collaboratively with other faith based and civil society organisations in Taiwan and across Asia to advocate for changes in legislation to better protect the rights of migrant workers. I was privileged to attend a few UN Human Rights Conferences and ILO (International Labour Organisation) Conferences in Geneva.

On 8 February we will celebrate the Feast of St Josephine Bakhita which has been designated by Pope Francis as a day of prayer, reflection and action to end the injustice of human trafficking in the world. St Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint for victims of slavery, was born in Sudan in 1869 and as a young girl was kidnapped for slavery in both Sudan and Italy. Following her delivery from slavery Josephine joined the Canossian Sisters in Italy and dedicated her life to sharing her story and to supporting the poor and suffering. She died on 8 February 1947 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000. At present there are 50 million people who live in slavery globally, 71% of whom are women and girls. Only 1 in 5 victims are detected in Australia.
In March 2020, Pope Francis announced the theme for the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023 would be “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission”. The journey towards the celebration of the Synod opened in October 2021 in dioceses around the world.
Inspired by the Pope’s invitation for the entire Church to reflect on this theme and journey together in synodality, around fifty Columban priests, students, lay missionaries, co-workers and Companions in Mission are participating in our Columban Synod for the Region of Oceania which began in September last year and will conclude in March 2023. The core aim of our Synod is to come together to discern what the Spirit wants us to do in the Region of Oceania for the next five years and to foster transformative change through exploring the Region’s future aspirations and hopes. We ask for your prayerful support as we continue our discernment and listen to the voice of the Spirit.

Fr Trevor Trot-ter signature

Fr Peter O'Neill
Regional Director of Oceania 

   Regional Director, Fr Peter O’Neill, from Australia, worked in Taiwan and is currently based at the Columban Mission Centre, Melbourne, Australia. 
   Vice Director, Fr Felisiano Fatu, from Tonga, worked in Peru and Pakistan and is currently based at the Columban Mission Centre, Suva, Fiji. 
   Regional Councillor, Fr Patrick McInerney, from Australia, worked in Pakistan and is currently the Director of the Columban Centre for Christian Muslim Relations, Sydney, Australia. 
   Regional Councillor, Fr Tom Rouse, from New Zealand, worked in Fiji and is currently based at the Columban Mission Centre, Lower Hutt, New Zealand. 
   Regional Councillor, Fr Euikyun Carlo Jung, from Korea, worked in Myanmar and is currently the parish priest of Holy Family parish, Labasa, Fiji.   

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