Two Old Monks

Oct 6, 2023

Khaing Khaing Mon (Nicole Wong), a teacher and editor at HEC Magazine in Mandalay Archdiocesan Higher Education College pays tribute to Columban missionary Fr Neil Magill.

As it is my day-off today, my thoughts wander. I start to miss two old monks. One is a Buddhist monk. The other is a Catholic priest. Both of them have been taking care of my well-being like real fathers. They really are taking care of Burmese people, not only Burmans, but Burmese people, including all ethnicities, as their children.

One is Ven Mānita from Kyaukse Maha Gandayon Monastery, and the other is Fr Neil Magill from Mandalay Archdiocesan Higher Education College.

As usual, I miss them, but I don’t contact them and say, “Hi! I miss you.” As usual, whenever I miss them, I recollect their goodness to me. I reflect how they have been good to people of Myanmar. And I restart to think how I can show my gratitude towards them. And I continue to ponder upon how I can help their mission and vision, instead of personally giving gifts and saying hello to them.

Khaing Khaing Mon

They love and have great compassion towards Burmese people regardless of those people’s religious background. They want to raise us up. They really did raise me up so that I am me now.

They gave me education and loving-kindness totally free of charge. And they didn’t expect anything back from me or anyone else but our own well-being and development. People like them are hard to find anywhere on earth.

Whenever I miss them, I remind myself that I need to help them to fulfil their mission: to develop the education of Myanmar’s citizens, including myself.

Interestingly, Fr Neil is not a Burmese, but an Irish priest. But his heart is full of the Burmese. He carries us in his heart wherever he travels. Now he’s back in Ireland, but we all are there with him in his heart. He has such a big, big heart that it contains us all.

Both of them are very old now. I would like to say, “As old as the mountains.” But they’re still working very very hard for our welfare. They are working smart while they’re keeping their own religious moral principles following their own religious teachings.

They are my fathers. They are my ideals. I want to be more like them.

Fr Neil Magill founded the Higher Education Center in Mandalay [HEC] with 30 poor but bright young women and men from remote villages [18-21 year olds]. It now has over 100 students residing at the Higher Education Centre and hundreds more have graduated from the three-year course. They are working now as teachers and development workers throughout Myanmar/Burma.

To support Columban missionaries please send a donation to the Far East Office, Dalgan Park, Navan, Co Meath C15 AY2Y. Alternatively, you can donate online at or call 00353 46 909 8275.

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