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Columbans to honor martyrs

One priest with the Missionary Society of St. Columban was killed by Muslim gunmen in 2001 while promoting peace in a troubled Christian-Muslim community in the Philippines.

Another died in a prison camp during the Korean War, after being forced into that war’s notorious "Death March" into North Korea.

But the names of Columban Fathers Michael (Rufus) Halley and Francis Canavan live on in a new Columban Martyrs Memorial Garden that will be dedicated May 26 at the order’s U.S. headquarters in Bellevue. They join the names of 21 other priests and a religious sister with the order who died violently or in prison while serving as missionaries around the world.

Archbishop George J. Lucas, who recently returned from a two-week trip to China with the Columban Fathers, will preside at a 3 p.m. Mass and dedication at the outdoor garden.

Timing of the archbishop’s trip and dedication of the garden were a coincidence, but part of efforts by the Columban Fathers to develop and share with others a deeper understanding of their own history and ministry as the order approaches the centennial celebration of its 1918 founding in Ireland, said Father Timothy Mulroy, director of the Columbans’ mission in the United States.

And the garden dedication is part of a daylong celebration and commemoration that will include a Skype session with a priest serving in China, talks from priests who have served in China, Peru and the Philippines and movies about the Columban Fathers’ ministry titled "Born in Others’ Pain" and "Cross & the Dragon."

People can drop by anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with reservations for the noon lunch available through May 23 by calling 402-291-1920 and asking for Jolene, Father Mulroy said. About 200 people already are expected, he said.

Celebration, commemoration

May 26

9 a.m. – Opening blessing

9:15 – Skype with Columban Father Dan Troy in China

10:30 – Breakout sessions

Noon: Lunch, Retreat Center

1 p.m. – Breakout sessions

2:30 – Music in the Garden

3 – Mass & Dedication

4 – Fellowship Social

4:45 – Concluding Prayer

The Catholic Voice

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