Why are you named after Christopher Columbus?
Are y’all Columbian? Like from South America?
Our name is a little funny. It is easily confused with other words that mean totally different things.
Columba House is named after St. Columba of Iona. He was a Christian monk and missionary in the British Isles in the 500s AD. A Catholic native of Ireland, Columba led a group of monks to the land we now call Scotland in order to share the Good News of Jesus.
Missionary work, both then and now, is complicated because it’s often used to manipulate or coerce people. Columba didn’t work that way. He didn’t arrive with an army or harass people in the streets with bullhorns and pamphlets.
Columba and his friends were monks who came in peace. They came to pray, offer hospitality, get to know their neighbors, and show people the gentle love of God.
Like St. Columba, we believe in evangelism and sharing the Good News of Jesus with the world. Also like Columba, we think there are lots of bad ways to do that. We don’t want to emulate Christians past and present who try to force people to convert.
Instead, we just want two things: to have authentic relationships with our friends and neighbors, and to live with as much Christian integrity as possible. We want to genuinely care for people as human beings, regardless of whether or not they ever join a church.
There’s never a catch or a bait-and-switch. We’re just gonna try to be faithful to God and not be jerks to our friends. That’s all Columba, or Jesus, would have us do.
A Short Biography
“Columba was born in Ireland in 521, and early in life showed scholarly and clerical ability. He entered the monastic life, and almost immediately set forth on missionary travels. Even before ordination to the presbyterate in 551, he had founded monasteries at Derry and Durrow.
“Twelve years after his ordination, Columba and a dozen companions set out for northern Britain, where the Picts were still generally ignorant of Christianity. Columba was kindly received, allowed to preach, convert, and baptize. He was also given possession of the island of Iona, where, according to legend, his tiny boat had washed ashore. Here he founded the celebrated monastery which became the center for the conversion of the Picts. From Iona, also, his disciples went out to found other monasteries, which, in turn, became centers of missionary activity.
“Columba made long journeys through the Highlands, as far as Aberdeen. He often returned to Ireland to attend synods, and thus established Iona as a link between Irish and Pictish Christians. For thirty years, he evangelized, studied, wrote, and governed his monastery at Iona. He supervised his monks in their work in the fields and workrooms, in their daily worship and Sunday Eucharist, and in their study and teaching. He died peacefully while working on a copy of the Psalter. He had put down his pen, rested a few hours, and at Matins was found dead before the Altar, a smile on his face. He is quoted by his biographer Adamnan as having said, ‘This day is called in the sacred Scriptures a day of rest, and truly to me it will be such, for it is the last of my life and I shall enter into rest after the fatigues of my labors.’”
(Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2006, 278)