Guest Speaker – Fr. Gerry Neylon SSC

Fr. Gerry Neylon SSC, from the Society of St. Columban, Dalgan Park, just outside Navan was Guest Speaker for the Rotary Club of Navan on Tuesday, 28th February 2017.

Gerry, regaled the members with stories and experiences of his time on the missions. There was no doubt that during his ministry he experienced many changes from ‘Cultural Revolution’ to natural catastrophes. It was a hard time for men and women of his calling.

The Society of St. Columban was first known as the Maynooth Mission to China and was formally launched in 1918, as a missionary Society of Diocesan priests. Before long it became evident that in order to minister to families in China, women were needed and so, another branch of this missionary family was formed – The Missionary Sisters of St. Columban. Almost 200 of their priests and 51 Columban Sisters worked there from 1920 to 1954, (when the last one was expelled).

Gerry was ordained on Easter Sunday in 1973 and was appointed to South Korea. He was there for four years: two years in language school and two years of parish work. After four years in Korea he was asked to go to Taiwan where he spent the next seventeen years from 1979 to 1996. His missionary journey in Taiwan came to an end in 1996 when he was asked to go to China where he spent the next twenty years until his recall to Ireland to carry out a special assignment.

Fr. Gerry has been to all the places where all the Columban Priests and Sisters worked and now wants to honour their heroic efforts by visiting their relatives in Ireland and England as we approach our centenary in 2018. He said that it has been very satisfying journey for him and that there is a great interest from the relatives in hearing about their uncles, aunts, granduncles and grandaunts who worked in extremely difficult circumstances in China in the first half of the 20th century.

When listening to Fr. Gerry, the Rotary Motto - Service above self - comes to mind.

Great after dinner light-hearted, intelligent speaker.

Pictured are: President Brendan Smyth, Fr. Gerry and Fir Oakes, Navan Rotary.

Story by: Admin


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