From the Director - My last column

Columban Fr Gary WalkerI am finishing in my role as Regional Director of Australia and New Zealand next month so this is my last Director’s column in The Far East. Columban Fr Brian Vale will be taking over from me on November 23, 2017, the feast of St Columban.

Fr Brian will bring his own special gifts to the task of leadership and to this column. He will bring fresh insights to the understanding and challenges which we face today. He has already served as a Regional Director in Japan and is presently involved in interfaith dialogue with the Columban Mission Institute in Sydney. I wish him well.

I hope you give him the same support and encouragement that you have given to me over the last six years.

I have come to the end of another phase in my life. I have been ‘in the office’ at Columban Mission Centre (CMC) for 14 years. It has been a challenge from the first day. I spent nine years as Editor of The Far East magazine starting from scratch and without any particular skills. It was a steep learning curve but I survived with the generous help of people in the CMC who had experience and from professional people who worked in the Catholic Press. I came to appreciate what is involved in producing a magazine in content and ‘look’. It was exciting and I learned so much.

When I became Regional Director I was immersed in a modern business operation. I did not have to do any of the technical work but once again it was a challenge to come to terms with an operation, which in Australia and New Zealand, had to be contemporary and efficient. Once again I was surrounded by co-workers who knew what they were doing and from whom I learnt a great deal. Having worked in Fiji and Jamaica, I did not have experience of ‘how things work’.

Columban priests used to be managers of the Columban Mission office but we have moved past that, we need much more expertise which we find in the people who work with us. Once again I had a steep learning relating to how the business side of a missionary congregation runs. I have learnt so much.

I would say that the use of technology has been a revelation to me. I am not inclined to technology but I have seen how useful and effective the internet, the website and social media is for promoting mission. We are able to stay connected with other Columbans and Regions throughout the world and spread the good work of mission electronically through our Columban eBulletin in addition to The Far East.

I am grateful for not being left behind as I might have been if I did not have this job.

Finally, a ‘thank you’ to you our benefactors. Without your support and belief in Columban mission, we would not have achieved anything. Together we have achieved a lot to the glory of God.

God bless you.

Fr Gary Walker SSC

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