Fr Trevor Trotter and Fr Robert McCulloch Photos: St Columbans Mission Society
Columban Fr Robert McCulloch
I made three major decisions about my life as a Columban missionary priest. In 1964, to give up a Commonwealth government full university scholarship and go to the Columban seminary. In 1977, after three happy years of missionary work in the Philippines and completing liturgical studies in Rome and Church history studies in Washington DC, to volunteer to go to one of the new missions the Columbans were opening in Pakistan and Taiwan. And in 2011, to accept the invitation of the Columban Superior-General to go to Rome as the Society’s Procurator-General. They were all good decisions with no regrets.
When I volunteered in 1977 for one of the new missions, I hoped greatly and prayed intensely that I would be appointed to Pakistan. It happened, by the kind grace of God, and there I spent 34 years of my life as a priest and missionary.
Firstly in the far north-east where Kashmir and Pakistan and India meet. And then from 1983 in the southern province of Sindh on the fringe of the Thar Desert for primary evangelization among Hindu semi-nomadic tribal people and in Karachi to teach Liturgy, Church History and Latin at the theology seminary.
Hospital developments, home-based palliative care, health care for people who are incredibly poor and greatly oppressed, and several education centres to assist Catholic young men overcome religious and social discrimination continue to flourish under competent lay administration and management and through generous benefactor support. The translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church into Urdu and the ongoing Urdu translation of the Roman Missal are another aspect of my missionary life in Pakistan.
Rome is Rome. Since 2011, I have been able to develop links with many religious congregations and Vatican and diplomatic sources for the benefit of the Columbans and our missionary work. Rome has also been an opportunity to develop fruitful working connections with the Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches. This has been a rich harvest from the seeds of ecumenical friendship which I received from my parents while growing up in Victoria.
Perhaps as a paradox, Frank Sinatra’s I did it my way and St Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer of Oblation tell my story of 50 years.
Columban Fr Robert McCulloch is the Procurator General for St Columbans Mission Society in Rome.
Columban Fr Trevor Trotter
Looking back over my 50 years since being ordained in my home town of Wauchope, NSW, I am struck by the way that God works in our lives. Family, school, work and seminary all shaped me and made me what I was at 25 years of age. God used all those people and events to get me ready to set off to Manila on my first missionary journey. I was there almost four years and I certainly learnt a lot from the Filipino people and the Columban missionaries that I was with. That was a growing up experience.
Whilst in Rome the next two years of my growing up was spiritual. I had joined a group of priests involved in the Charismatic Renewal whose special focus was on praying for other priests around the world. That was a great intervention by God in my life for which I am extremely grateful to this day.
I spent the next 24 years lecturing on the Bible and also being involved in the formation of young men for Columban missionary priesthood. I enjoyed both forms of mission greatly. Forming people as ministers, as witnesses, was also part of the mission of Jesus. I was glad to be part of his work with the people of our day. In the latter part of my life, I have also been growing. I do not think God ever stops inviting us into a deeper way of living. “I have come that you may have life, life in abundance” (Jn 10:10) was the quote I chose for my ordination card. For me, it carries not only the promise of Jesus for all of us and for all of creation but it is also an expression of the purpose of my mission as a Columban missionary priest of 50 years. Long may it continue.
Columban Fr Trevor Trotter is the Regional Director of Oceania.
Listen to "Insights into 50 years of priesthood"
- Read more from The Far East, July 2020