Endings and beginnings in the Far East
John Guiney SJ from the Irish Jesuit Missions office visited fellow Jesuits and Jesuit works in the Far East this month – China and South East Asia. Over 125 Irish Jesuits have gone there since 1925. There now remains 6 Jesuits in Hong Kong; 2 in Japan; 1 in Singapore; and 1 in Cambodia.
On his visit to Hong Kong, Fr Guiney met men who range from 80 to 104 years of age. Among the works established there include 2 colleges; a spirituality centre; and a social outreach programme. These works are now sustained by young Chinese Jesuits and the Irish province offers a partnership of support. Among the Irish Jesuits Fr. Guiney visited included the oldest Jesuit in Japan, Fr Joe Mallin, who was awarded the Free Man of Dublin. Fr John reflected upon the Irish presence there, “it is a time of gratitude and letting go”.
Next, Fr Guiney visited Sisophon, a remote town in the North-West of Cambodia – a place of beginnings. He visited Xavier Jesuit School, a school of over 300 children: “it’s wonderful to see a building emerge out of the fields”. With great joy, he met Ashley Evans SJ, the youngest Irish Jesuit missionary. In Cambodia, the Society is extremely close to the people and it is in dialogue with Buddhism, the country’s religion.
Now providing the first Jesuit secondary school in Indochina, the Society’s influence in Cambodia is helping to build a country that is still recovering from a genocide of many years ago. Ashley Evans SJ works alongside local Jesuits and Irish volunteers for the same purpose. About Xavier Jesuit School, Fr Guiney says: “This school is a leader of development and peace in Cambodia. It is a joy to witness it and a joy to be here”.
John Guiney SJ will visit Fr Gerard Keane in Singapore for his last leg of his adventures to the Far East. You can follow him on the the Irish Jesuit Missions blog.