Parig Digan was born in Ballinahowen, Athlone, on 24th February 1929. He was educated at Rashina NS, and St Mel’s College, Longford. He came to Dalgan in 1947 and was ordained priest on 21st December 1953.
His first appointment was to further studies in history and anthropology at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC.
In 1956 he was appointed to the Philippines where, after Ilocano studies, he served in San Marcelino, and later in Cabangan, Zambales. After his first vacation he did a brief four months as substitute teacher of Latin and English in Dalgan before returning to San Narciso, Zambales from 1963 to 1969.
In 1970 he did a further MA in Asian Studies at the School of African and Asian studies, London University.
From 1972 to 1978 he served as Asia Secretary at the prestigious Pro Mundi Vita Centre in Brussels. These were very happy years for him and resulted in numerous publications as editor and part-author of PMV booklets notably the 1975 publication, ‘China and the Churches in the Making of One World’ and in 1978, ‘The Christian China-Watchers: A Post-Mao Perspective’.
In 1978 he returned to studies in Sociology at the Catholic University of Louvain. After being conferred with a Special Diploma in Sociology in 1980 he started his doctoral studies and earned a Doctorate in Cultural Anthropology from the Catholic University of Nijmegen, Netherlands in 1984. In the same year Orbis published his book, ‘Churches in Contestation: Asian Christian Social Protest’.
Meanwhile he had returned to London for two years in charge of the Columban Research Service before being appointed Society Research Coordinator 1982-1992.
In 1993 he was appointed to Britain to work in liaison with the Asia Desk of the Council of Churches of Britain and Ireland. Initially he worked from St Cecilia’s in Sussex and in 2000 he took up residence in Reddington Road. He served there until he moved back to Ireland and to the Dalgan Nursing Home in March 2016.
Parig was a born researcher, extremely dedicated and disciplined. During his years in pastoral work in the Philippines he would rise long before dawn to continue his reading, before preparing for Mass and the day’s work.
He became a true expert on South East Asia and on China in particular. His years of study gave rise to several books and innumerable articles in all sorts of journals and publications.
Parig died peacefully in the Dalgan Nursing Home on Sunday 5th March 2023. He requested that his body be donated for medical research.
May he rest in peace.
The Funeral Mass for Fr Parig Digan took place on Wednesday 8th March 2023.