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Tuesday, 01 September 2015 12:49

Mission on the margins

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Fr Kevin ONeill ssc150Australian Father Kevin O'Neill ssc reflects on his first three years as Superior General of the St Columban’s Mission Society and on the Columbans' advocacy for justice in an interview with The Catholic Leader.

One parish is more than a handful for any priest, but Fr Kevin O’Neill’s territory extends from Myanmar to Mexico, and many points in between.

As Superior General of St Columban’s Mission Society, Fr O’Neill is leader of missionaries working in 16 countries around the world.
Hailing from Geelong, Victoria, the 52-year-old joined the Columbans in 1984, was ordained in 1992 and hasn’t lived in Australia for 25 years.

He’s worked in Taiwan, Ireland and China, and is now based in Hong Kong.

Part of his role as Superior General is to visit Columban missionaries wherever they’re working.

This month he’s back home, visiting Columbans in Australia and taking time to catch up with relatives and friends.
During a visit to Brisbane, Fr O’Neill, only the second Australian to be Superior General of the Columbans, reflected on his first three years in the role.

He said he took great heart from the words and example of Pope Francis.

“Certainly what Pope Francis had to say in Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) resonates very closely with our experience as missionaries,” he said.

“It’s as though he’s put words to our own experience, and very beautiful words, insightful words, challenging words.

“Also with his recent encyclical, what Pope Francis has said recently, it’s a social and environmental encyclical.

“So what he’s written there in Laudato Si’ also speaks to the experience that Columban missionaries have had for quite a number of years.

“We first became aware of the concern for the Earth as an integral part of mission probably in the 1970s, and then in the late 1990s we became more aware of human contribution to climate change.

“So we’ve had missionaries who have been educating on the whole area of climate change since the late 1990s.”

Read the rest of the article at The Catholic Leader, published on 13 August 2015.