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Myanmar: Priest who never stops learning

Father John Naw Lawn (Photo supplied)

For 15 years, John Naw Lawn, a 67-year-old Catholic priest from Myitkyina Diocese, Myanmar, immersed himself in the mission of the Holy Childhood Association.

The Holy Childhood or Missionary Childhood Association is a Catholic children's organization dedicated to supporting foreign missions. It raises children's awareness of the Catholic Church's global missionary nature.

Father Naw Lawn said he has learned that a retired person with work lives longer than a person with no work.

Though he is approaching 70 years old, he is always learning everything, publishing books, and educating people in particular.

Since 2007, the priest has been serving as a Holy Childhood missionary in the Myitkyina Diocese, northern Myanmar.

He holds catechism exams for children every July 19, Martyrs’ Day of Myanmar, each year until the COVID-19 pandemic.

Father John with children (Photo supplied)

Every year, there is a children's summer catechism camp, which has about 1200 participants altogether.

He produced 180 children's Christian songs and published a 440-page long bible storybook in the Kachin language and seven catechism books for children in the Burmese language.

Kachin is a Tibeto-Burman language primarily spoken in Kachin State, Myanmar, and Yunnan, China. 

Father Naw Lawn never stops learning.

"The most important thing is faith formation for children. When our children lack proper faith development, how can we expect them to be faithful in the Catholic Church?" asked Naw Lawn.

He bemoaned, "I am amazed at why some church leaders do not care about catechism for 

In 2018, he was half paralyzed. After months of treatment, he recovered to some extent. He continued his mission for children's catechism by publishing children's catechism books, producing children's gospel songs, and giving guidelines for catechists who are involved in teaching catechism.

"There are many difficulties in doing so. I have no proper financial support. Thus, it is difficult to run a children's summer catechism camp annually. But God provides when the time comes," said Naw Lawn. "We learn to overcome difficulties."

Besides, he said some parents of the children misunderstood him for holding catechism exams for first communion and confirmation.

"Children need to be qualified enough before the first communion because they must believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. They must not take it for granted. They need to be well grounded in the right understanding of Catholic faith and teaching," Naw Lawn said.

"I am doing my best for the greater glory of God and the good of the Catholic community," he said. "I am trying to evangelize through social media, writing homilies and reflecting on my Facebook page in the Kachin language. I feel worth living by doing what I can do."

Father Naw Lawn is currently residing at St. Columban Cathedral in Myitkyina Diocese, Myanmar. - Chwar Thar 


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.