January-February 1997

Father Joeker

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

Hey Daddy!

In some villages in southern Ghana, our Filipinos workers who used to pass by there were annoyed by many mestisos and mestisas calling to them, “Dad Dad, why? why did you leave me and my mother?” Private investigations were made and it was found out that those villages along the roads were constructed by foreign contractors a few years back. Yes, really Dad, why did you leave them?

Male Chauvinism

I attended a one-month spirituality course our SVD Founder Blessed Arnold Janssen. Two Filipino Holy Spirit Sisters were also in the group. We were sharing with Fr. Gelata, SVD from Poland who has stayed a long time in Ghana about how our founder was rather stern. Some even branded him as stubborn” “Not Stubborn”, Fr. Gelata strongly objected, ‘but steadfast”. “Only women are stubborn” he continued and smiled immediately at the two sisters who were staring at him defenseless and probably saying in their own minds: “Some day the men will learn who is steadfast and who is stubborn.”


Rev. Fr. Rudolf Krajick now back in Slovakia was popularly known in Ghana as a Master Builder. He built many schools, clinics, convents, to mention a few. One day as he was transporting sand on a local boat across the Volta Lake – the world’s longest man-made like, they began to sink. To lessen the load, he shouted to the workers scrambling in panic: “Take the shovels and throw the sand away!” To Krajick’s utter amazement, one worker grabbed the shovels were retrieved and they were able to save themselves in the nick of time; but the question into the lake remains; Who failed to communicate?


While waiting for my tire to be repaired at Techiman, another customer was seated beside me. he was murmuring, “Foreigner, you know everything. Why cant you discover a medicine for AIDS. You cant chase women for fear of it.” I replied: AIDS is terrible but maybe the fact that you cannot chase women is not so bad.” After all women are partners not objects.

Joe the Cat

Among the natural beauty spots is LakeBosomtwe in was discovered by a hunter who was following a wounded deer [hence the name]. The water was so clear that one wonders why. After swimming we climbed the veranda for drinks. Fresh fish from the lake, of course, cam tempt anyone. Under our table was a big cat enjoying the bones. Then the waiter came calling the cat, “Joe, come, come, My fellow priests burst into laughter. I asked the waiter “Joe?” “Yes, it’s the name of the cat,” he replied, “Why not Josephine?” I suggested. “Father it’s a male cat”, he countered. “Better change the name of that cat. Otherwise I will not come here anymore.” The waiter left smiling like a Cheshire cat.

MISYON Story Triggers New Info On Fr Francis Douglas

In July 1943 a Wellington – born Columban priest disappeared from Pililla, his lakeside parish 60 kilometers from Manila. The mystery of his disappearance and presumed death has never been explained and his body never found. Patricia Brooks wrote of his life and what was known of his arrest by the Japanese military police. That story was reprinted in MISYON and read by Sr Margherita in Rome, who at about the same time, read an article in an American Magazine published for expatriate Filipinos from the town of Paete. The author of this article was Marie Pruden. It didn’t take long for connections to be made.

The article by Marie Pruden in the Paete Journal asked the identity of the strange European priest who once saved the lives of some villagers. “This white priest may be more than a hero, he could be a saint! If he indeed was martyred, then the town owes him a memorial.”

Sr Margherita realized the “strange European priest” was the same person mentioned in Misyon and suddenly remembered as a child seeing Fr Douglas.

“His appearance is very vivid in my mind; like Jesus tied to a pillar and scourged with blue marks around his body and arms. I didn’t know he was a priest, just ‘Americano’ because he was white.”

Then a correspondent wrote into the Paete paper: “I can still see the white priest now. I heard the whacks and whips fall upon his bare body. The blows of heartless men upon a hapless fellow human being still pierce my ears. The white priest, true to his calling, came, was tortured and was put to death. If martyrdom of that kind is not sainthood, what is?”

Luding Afurong-Llave was 18 years old when he heard “the moans and screams of people being tortured ... when the door opened we saw a big white man, the priest, with a rosary and a scapular around his neck. His hands were tied to the pillar supporting the choir loft. His face was swollen with black eyes and he had bruises all over his body. He was sent as a savior to our townsmen as the soldiers’ anger was vented on this white foreigner. Just as Jesus suffered for our salvation, they stripped him of his clothes, beat him and lashed him into unconsciousness.”

Sr Margherita sent copies of the articles to New Zealand and Patricia Brooks, the original author, received a reply from Marie Pruden in San Francisco, who wrote: “We now have a face and name to what I thought had been a myth. Thanks to you, we finally learned his identity.”

Marie was able to tell Patricia that her godfather, retired colonel Frank Quesada, had been in the church when Fr Douglas was tortured and would be able to give a clear first-hand account of what happened.

Patricia flew to San Francisco where Quesada told her he had been in the resistance movement during the war and was arrested with 2,500 men and boys who were imprisoned and tortured for information in Pililla.

After three days of cruel interrogations, the Japanese military police brought Fr Douglas into the church and directed their anger at him, giving the others respite.

Frank Quesada confirmed the earlier anonymous reports of the heroic courage of Fr Douglas throughout the further three days of torture. He gave graphic descriptions of the ill-treatment and torture suffered by Fr Douglas, and told of his strength and inspiration.

Frank went to confession to Fr Douglas, who led the prisoners in prayer, saying the Rosary in Tagalog, "in spite of his wounds and pain, he never complained or showed any signs of being demoralized. He gave us faith and resolve to live. He told us: 'Do not be afraid, we are in the house of the God.'

“To us he was a saint sent by God to absorb pain and sacrifice for us. Nobody knew from where he came yet he shared our punishment and pain.”

Patricia met other Filipino people from Paete to whom the story of Fr Douglas is now more than a myth and they pray that one day he will be beatified.

Patricia Brooks has written a biography of Fr Douglas which she hopes to get published soon and she would love to see a documentary made of Frank telling what happened to Fr Douglas in Paete.

“Francis Vernon Douglas is part of our faith history and we need to record for posterity this credible witness who can give us a first-hand account of the last hours of Fr Douglas.”

Patricia Brooks can be contacted at 113 Waipapa Road, Hataitai, Wellington 3, New Zealand.

Labour of Love

Patricia Brooks has spent eight years searching for details of Fr Douglas’ death. Her search has taken her to the Philippines, Ireland, Rome, Washington and San Francisco as well as numerous New Zealand centres.

Her work has been costly but she says she regards it as a labour of love with the hope the inspiration of his life and death will bring others to God.

Any information you can give her will be much appreciated.

Mission Everywhere, Anywhere

By Sr. Ma. Fe Sobrevega, MMS

Sr. Fe is from New Lucena, Iloilo. She is the youngest of six children. She graduated from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy in 1956. After taking the board exam, she joined the Medical Mission sisters in Philadelphia, U.S.A. She was one of the first Filipinos to join this congregation.

She attended refresher courses at Washington, D.C. before she was sent off to medical missions, Dacca, East Pakistan (which is now Bangladesh) was her first mission. She almost did not make it to her next assignment in South Vietnam because of typhoid fever, in 1972 she went back to the Philippines for a medical check up and was assigned to various mission places in the country: Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Ipil.

Now [at the young age of 63] it is from Kenya that she writes to us and shares one day of her life as pharmacist in the Holy Family (Nangina) Hospital.

Starting the fire to sterilize IV fluids. These stoves save energy form 50% to 75%. It takes 30 minutes to sterilize IV fluids after gauge reaches 15 lb pressure.

Dispensing IV fluids to the operating room attendant

Sr. Fe starting the still (an apparatus used for distillation) for collecting distilled water for making intravenous (IV) fluids.

Just checking the ward’s requests from the main pharmacy.

Applying latex (milk) of Kalachuchi in the patient with extensive herpes zoster.

Dispensing a prescription for a baby. Luckily his mama understands English. Otherwise, Sr. Fe will have to wait for a native of Kenya to pass-by the pharmacy to translate the instructions.

Teaching guava hers sitz bath to a boy who has second degree burn. Medical plants do complement treatment.

Handing IV fluids to a local nurse.

Mission will Separate Twins

BY Nerso C. Lujan

San Dionisio Iloilo – Identical twins made history when they were ordained priest in this town 112 km. northwest of Iloilo City.

Historic Event

Frederic I and Frederic II Lauricio, 33, took their vows a priest of the Society of the Divine Word in a ceremony officiated by Jaro Archbishop Alberto Piamonte.

The St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Church was packed with people who converged to witness a historic event not only for the two new priests and their family but also for the Roman Catholic Church. The identical twins are the first in the Philippines to become priest on the same day, church official said.

Nono and Nene

Frederic I and Frederic II, nicknamed Nono and Nene, completed their degrees in theology at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City in 1994. it was also there that they completed their master’s degrees in pastoral works last year, both graduating ‘cum laude’.

But while their ordination marked an important milestone in their lives, it also signaled their separation.

A few weeks hence, Frederic I is to proceed to Nagoya, Japan to continue the missionary work he started there during his overseas training in 1992-1993.

Frederic II, on the other hand, is to help evangelize the inhabitants of Botswana, a country in Southern Africa with a population of 1.6 million.

It is not know when the twins would see each other again.

‘We are happy and thankful to God for this significant day of the church ,,, two boys born together have now become men, reborn again, ‘ Piamonte said.

Devout Catholics

Piamonte also praised the twins’ parents, Federico Lauricio of Laoag City and Carmen Roa of this town, for allowing the youngest of their four children to answer God’s call. Their father, 73, is a retired civil engineer. Their mother 69, retired in 1988 form Ateneo de Davao University where she taught Spanish and Biology.

Their two other children are Anthony, 35 a former councilor of this town, and Benadeth, 34, a nurse at the Singapore General Hospital.

They are devout Catholics whose three sons initially wanted to become priests. But Anthony, a philosophy graduate, left the St. John of the Cross Seminary in Manila and decided to go into business in Iloilo.

Frederic I entered the Divine Word Seminary in 1987. Four years later he acquired a philosophy degree form Ateneo de Davao University. He worked for some threw years with the Mindanao Development Corporation.

Frederic II an Agriculturist followed his twin at the seminary two years later.

In 1992, Frederic I went to Nagoya [third largest city in Japan] to undergo the order’s overseas training program. When he returned in 1993, he found himself in the same class as his twin.

Born on December 14, 1962, the twins attended the Assumption School of Davao in 1969-75 and the Davao City High School in 1975-79.

After their graduation from college, they joined the Jesuits Volunteers of the Philippines program. Frederic I was assigned to Zamboanga and Frederic II to Bukidnon

Mixed Emotion

Mixed emotions were mirrored on the faces of their parents, the twins’ sibling and their relatives, friends and townmates who flocked to the Church on a hill overlooking the sea.

“We have long waited for this day and went to share with you all the blessings of the Almighty”, said Frederic I.

‘I hope you will all include us in your prayers so we can be worthy of our vocation,’ said Frederic II.

I am now wholeheartedly giving my sons to the Lord. What I am now asking from Him is to make them worthy of their calling’, said their mother Carmen.

New Year in Kyoto

By Sr. Margaret Lacson, MM

Akemashite Omefeto Gonzaimasu. [Congratulations, the New Year has opened.] You hear this phrase any where you go in Japan during the first days of the year.

The beginning of the New Year marks the most important holiday here in Japan. The Japanese prepare their homes for this event. They decorate their house with special New Year decorations hanging in their cars.

The men pound the rice to make rice flour for the omochi (rice cake). The women cook special dishes for this special occasion. Families make a special effort to come together to celebrate New Year. Thus, trains and buses and highways are always crowded at this time of the year.

But the most significant activity is the temple or shrine visitations. Days nearing New Year, people start to flock to the temples and shrines to pray for good fortune and good heath through the year. The temple bells ring through midnight for the 108 sins and vices of the human being.

In Kyoto, the most popular place to go is the Chion-in Temple where sutra-chanting monks surrounds a 450 year old 70 ton bell, [so big that it takes 14 monks to swing the lever that rings the bell]. From Chion-in, most people then walk to nearby Yasaka Shrine where they light a cord from the shrine’s sacred fire. This smoldering cord is then taken home to light in the first day of the year. Eating soup made over this fire is said to ensure good health. This midnight trek to the temples and shrines with temple bells resonating in the quite night indeed makes New Year’s Eve a very solemn celebration.

Over the three or four days, hatsu-mode is important for the Japanese people, it is the first visit to the shrine or temple to pray. Usually about 85 million of the 120 million people do the hatsu-mode.

In this celebration of the New Year, one sees the religiosity and faith of the Japanese People, their trust in a higher being to listen and respond to their prayers.

Romance in the Air

By Bo Sanchez

Be forwarned.

The greatest calamity in this world is about to happen.

Two women dropped by my office one day and said, “Bo, we’re thinking of putting you on TV.”

“On TV? Uh...should I sit or stand on it?” I inquired. "No, no, no,” they groaned, “You’ll appear in a program!”

I quickly sobered up, nodded my head and answered grimly, “I’ll do it on two conditions.”

Both of them got exited, “Yes”

“The first, I’ll only do it if it’s a dramatic love story. And second, I’ll be able to choose who my leading lady will be.”

One of them broke in, "Sorry Bo, but it’s nothing like that. We want you to lead a prayer meeting on the air.”

I decided to bargain, “Okay, okay, I’ll settle for comedy. But there should be a love-interest angle.”

When I later realized that one of the women in front of me was a famous Famas-awardee scriptwriter, I almost had a heart attack. These people were serious!

I’ll not go into detail how they finally convinced me, (Or someone may change them with illegal possession of firearms).

Here are the reasons why I’m going to appear on TV:

I’ll fulfill my long-time dream to say, “Hi Mom! I’m on TV!”

The world is using TV as its pulpit to preach its king of gospel. I don’t want them to have all the fun. If  TV’s a pulpit, then Catholics should use it.

Of course, some nice Director might just discover me and finally put me in a dramatic romantic movie, and pair off me with a beautiful leading lady.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m an incurable romantic. Actually God is the ultimate Valentino.

He loves you.

Whether it’s serving a poor child on the streets, giving him a piece of bread, a smile, a warm hug, my message will still remain the same.

He wants to be your leading man forever.

Whether it’s whispering to one person or shouting from the rooftops, broadcasting through the air, I will not stop... God is incurably romantic.

Love Him back. Say “Yes.” Choose with your heart. He’s yours.

-Thank you, Kerygma!
P.S. Bo is a missionary


The Bent Women

By Gloria Canama

Gloria Canama, a Columban Filipina lay missionary working in Pakistan, shares her story of journeying with the women of Pakistan.

A Great Privilege to Journeying with the Women

Recently I had a privilege of accompanying six Punjabi women to the Columban parish of Matli, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. This was part of a week long women’s Mission Exchange Programme organized by the Columban Fathers in Pakistan. Not so long ago, it would have been impossible to organize such a programme for women. You would hear the following remarks: How could a woman spend a week away from home? Who would do the washing and ironing of clothes? Who would be there to serve the men? This year six women form the Columban parish of Shadbagh and Skeikhupura went to Matli and six Parkari Kolhi women from Matli went to the Punjab. On the journey the women were excited and some were apprehensive. For some it was their first time being away from home. It was a long and tiring 18 hours journey by train. As the train moved on and on, we got to know each other through telling a little of our life stories and sharing jokes. “Where is Matli?” “What time do we arrive there?” asked those who got restless. It was Teresa’s first train trip, it was a big relief when we eventually arrived safely in Matli.

A Time to Think and Reflect

During their week in Matli, they were exposed to and entered into the lives of the Parkari Kolhi women. They visited and stayed in their villages. They listened to the stories of the women’s lives. They shared meals, prayed and worshipped together, each day we shared our insights, what we learned and what touch us about the Parkari Kolhi tribal people. We were touched by their hospitality and friendliness. One of the great strengths of the programme was its informality. Through the informal encounters friendships and relationships were deepened. The aim of the programme was to build bridges and deepen relationships between the Tribal and Punjabi dimensions of the Pakistani Church so that we can be tolerant of differences and accepted the reality that there are different cultured and traditions within the Pakistani Church. The experience of being away from home and free from cooking and looking after children gave them space to think and reflect on their own lives. The symbol of the camel is an apt way to describe the experience. A camel travels slowly but it is determined to reach its destination. The women’s journey, like the camel’s, is slow but they are determined to reach their destination of freedom and dignity. The exchange programme may look insignificant but for the women it was a week of deeper awareness, hope, joy and life when new possibilities for a better future opened up for them.

The Dream Seemed Impossible

Let me take you back to the women’s daily life in the villages. It was in the villages that I came face to face with growing poverty, the very poor health of the women and children and the very high illiteracy rate. When women joined meetings and seminars, they always sat at the back, silent and a number of them with bowed heads. They would even find it difficult to say their own name for everyone to hear. They were not used to thinking for themselves but only told what to do. Their feelings, opinions and ideas were not sought after. Decisions were made for them. They had long accepted their fate and role as defined my men. For years they were “bent” women. They were unable to stand up straight and take their full and rightful place in the life of the community but yet saw no wrong in the unjust oppressive structures. Moreover, they didn’t feel and see the need for change. You would often hear them say: “This is our culture and that’s, our grandparents lived this way and so why change? Why the need to go out and get involved, our men would think we are against then and it would mean more trouble.” Their sense of fatalism was often very obvious – “I’ve no more hope left. I am just waiting for my death.”

On a number of occasions, I have come to experience my own poverty and helplessness. I have often asked how could I be instrumental in empowering the women with my own with own powerlessness? As I sat with the grieving and wailing women on the death of a six month old child, I painfully asked myself if my presence among them has any significance at all?

Women Growing in Self-Confidence and Asserting Themselves

Pakistani men and women are very prayerful. Each home has a bible which given a very respectful place. Margaret, who works in the parish as a coordinator of women’s issues, told me that new idea’s, new visions should have a biblical perspective. Otherwise any programme will not be accepted. It would be regarded as Western and not good for them. In the light of this both of us want o the different village for bible sharing. Initially it was like advertising and selling the women’s programme and it wasn’t very saleable. We has to be diplomatic with the men, including the catechist – who are men – who were somewhat suspicious. They would often remark: “What are you women up to? Are you igniting the women to fight against us?” these remarks were very threatening for the women.

Gradually the women in the midst of their busy-ness began to read and reflect on the bible from a woman’s perspective. They have found strength and hope especially in Jesus healing the bent woman, in talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, in Jesus who allowed Mary to sit at his feet and listen to his words, in the Risen Jesus who first appeared to Mary of Magdala and sent her to proclaim the good news. Slowly they have regained self –confidence. How powerful it is to hear the women day after organizing a successful programmed. “We can do it and we have done it well.” They have broken their silence, have begun to ask questions and more and more are beginning to assert their identity. How good it is to hear say: “If we women are also created in God’s image, why are we not treated equally? Are human rights not womens rights? We are not dolls to be played with but human beings to be love and respected.”

Women as Bible Readers, an empowering experience

In the country like Pakistan where there is very high rate of illiteracy especially among women, its is inspiring to see the women, it is inspiring to see the women taking on the role of Bible leaders. They lead the community prayers and share their reflections on the come out from their homes and get involved, the more they become confident and empowered. Slowly they have begun to overcome their fears. Since emerging from their home environment views. Have been broadened and they have begun to tell their stories of oppression, speak confidently in public and have to come to believe in their own strength and power. March 8, International Women’s Day, women in their struggles, aspirations and hopes for a more just human society: for their own rights, empowerment and development and for a more participatory church and society. This is a breakthrough in a male dominated society.

No Turning Back

The journey towards total transformation is still very long. Steep and winding. Because of the dominant culture, a person like Margaret is still not free to go the villages alone. There are still people who way their tongues against the women who dare to go out of their homes to facilitate programmes for women in the parish and the villages. Men at home are still waiting and asking to be served. There is still endless work to be done. But there is no turning back now in the awakening of women. The questions “how long is the journey? How far are we from our destination? do not matter. The important things that the struggle is on. The women are on the road. For most of us, if not all, this is our first journey on this less traveled road. It can dare to celebrate with and for women because I have personally journeyed with the women of substance, women who dare to believe and hope in themselves, women who have a deep faith and trust in the God of life, in the 
God of love and justice. Journeying with women, not only on the bus or train but most of all in the journey of daily life. In a deeper and meaningful way I have come to rejoice and be grateful for being a woman. My heart rejoices in God for she has done great wonders in and through women.

The Hound of Heaven

By Ivan de la Fuente

It was the night before Christmas. Yet save for our Yuletide trimmings, the laughter of our neighbors and the clanging of a nearby church’s bells,  in our house it was anything but Christmas. I was in grade four then, the night when I was introduced to drugs, it was my brother who handed me my first stick of marijuana. I accepted it because I wanted to be closer to him. Ever since he made friends with the village bums, we started growing apart from each other. This left me feeling alone, dejected and lacking in self-confidence.

The Troubles Begin

I wasn’t always like this. I remember the first time I took an entrance exam for prep school, I was laughing afterwards because I really found it very easy. After the first quarter of my schooling, I landed number one in the honor roll. From then on I knew I had it, that I was smart. This was one of the reasons I didn’t have enough drive to study. I was able to get high grades even without studying. Later on I realized that I spoke too soon for from top one I became top three then top five until eventually I was flunking one subject after another.

Even before my grades started to plummet, the family situation had started to change. Before I was very close to my brother; he was my playmate, confidante and best friend. Yet as we grew older, he found other playmates his age. Besides it was at this time that he started faring badly in school. This made my dad really furious. He was already in strict person, but he became even stricter, especially with me because he reasoned out that he didn’t want the same thing to happen to me.

When my dad’s effort of teaching my brother a lesson proved ineffective, he changed his strategy in making my brother change. He became lax with my brother in an effort to win him back. With me, it was different, I thought my dad was being unfair because I was the one who didn’t have a problem then and I was the one who was being disciplined. I wanted to tell my dad, “If that’s how you treat my brother I’d rather be like him than put up with all the restrictions that you impose on me!”

My resentment towards my dad and my desire to be closer to my brother started my troubles. In grade school, I had a set of clean fun-loving friends. Back home it was different. I’d go with my brother and his disreputable gang even if he bullied me. My brother was four years my senior sand his friends were 10 years his senior. We’d go out and ourselves drunked at the village basketball court and then they’d challenged me to extort money from the passers-by.

When I reach high school, I found a different set of friends with the same vices. Plus we would go out to night clubs and it was then that I started picking up the women from those places. I was never serious with my life them there was never a day when my Dad would not tell me how lazy and worthless I was. This made me cry in bed every night, hoping that the morning after, everything would suddenly become normal again . I also o lost mum my self-respect then, as I begun to believe in the deception that I could never excel in anything yet deep inside, I also had this longing: I knew I wanted something but I didn’t know what it was. My self-worth received another blow when I became a summer high school graduate.

When I entered college, I started to think where I was really heading for. I managed to take a degree in philosophy but after a year of being with either pre-law or pre-divinity students, I decided to transfer to my former school. Here, not long after I got kicked out because I’d always prefer to get myself drunk that to exert effort in reading my lessons. I then decided to take a home study program. At the same time, my Dad hired me to be come one of his men in his computer graphics outfit. This meant more money for me to spend on my late nights out. My Dad eventually made me stop working because he found out that I was neglecting my study modules. So he made me stay home, much to my advantage.

Weaving the Chains

I was again able to meet my long time neighborhood acquaintances who then became my friends. I knew that some of them were heavily into drugs but I didn’t mind. All I cared for was to be the last one to drop during our drinking sessions. Until I found out that there was his particular drug that cam make one’s drinking prowess grow stronger. It’s called shabu. From the time I fist tasked marijuana, I had this conviction that I wouldn’t try any kind of drug. Until this his opportunity came. I swore that I would take it but would never but it. I’d just ask for it from a friends only when I have to drink a lot. But because it was an expensive drug, I begun to buy it out.

Eventually I used up all of my financial resources so I started to sell a few things from the house. I was even tempted to sell shabu myself. All the while my drug intake was intensifying. Form my initial intake of one gram it went up to as high as more than a gram everyday. All his time my friends and I would still go out and get ourselves drunk in night clubs. There was even one time when I was so high on drugs and alcohol that I allowed the five women who were having a floor show to pull me on-stage and make me join them as the crowd watched me so my stuff with these “entertainers”.

By this time our house had become the hang-out of my drug – dependent friends. My parents were never at home so they didn’t have an inkling as to what was happening to me. All they could complain about was that my friends were too old and too weird for me. The cops at this time would usually be seen doing their surveillance rounds at our village. Little did I know that some of my friend had been under surveillance for a long time.

By 1988 our family went to this Encounter cum Youth Life in the Spirit Seminar. There I went along with whatever the speakers would tell me. It was one of the first few instances that I realized that God wanted me to change, that He was calling me back to Him. Yet after two weeks the seminars effect wore off. I was back to my old ways again. But this time, much worse.

Broken Deal

One morning I was driving with my sister rather recklessly. Everything happened so fast. To our right, there was this college gal crossing the street. I was to late to hit the brakes-her head slammed on the right of or car’s windshield. Her body, because of the impact, was thrown in air and somersaulted twice in the mid-air before hitting the ground. I cried Christ’s name out loud because I remembered a friend‘s advised then to call out the name of Jesus whenever you’re in deep trouble. We rushed her to the hospitals as blood continued to gush from the wound on her head. After she was rushed to the emergency room, I made a deal with God that if He allowed her to live, I’d change my ways, after a while, a bit certain that she would live I’ prayed that there be no brain damage, at this, the attending physician notified us that she was safe from any brain damage. So I found myself changing our deal’s terms again to no permanent disability until eventually, I asked Him for a speedy recovery. All this time He granted. He fulfilled His side of the deal. The week after the girl was discharged from the hospital. I did exactly the opposite of the deal. I broke my promise to Him.

Guilt and Grace

In one of my drug intakes one night, I was beginning to see shadowy figures all over our place. My head rush was so fast I knew that any minute now I could lose my sanity because of drug overdose. I was experiencing paranoia. I thought that I was going to die at that time. In the midst of my fear and confusion, images of my past flashed before me. I saw how filthy and wretched I was in the face of a God who had given me a lot of opportunities to change. I remembered the floor show and the instance when I almost raped the girl flirting with me in the basement. But when she cried, thank God I stopped at that time, I also recalled my stealing, the lies that had become second nature and my very own addiction. Then I remembered this guy who I saw in this Christian TV program. He was about to commit suicide but what he did was he knelt down and acknowledged his helplessness before God. Then I heard a faint whisper in my heart that I knew could only come from Him, “it have given you My Son, will I nit also freely grant you My forgiveness?” Then I passed out. Then I passed out.

The very next night I was high on drugs again. But that night was different. I was also filled with fear this time because I saw only two scenarios for my future – either I die of a drug overdose or I get jailed because of the company I kept. I realized I never did accomplish anything in my life that I was a complete failure and that life didn’t have any meaning for me. I cried out to God, “Panginoon, tulungan Mo ako para mo nang awa!” I prayed this prayer in desperation not knowing that God would start working on me that very night.


When I woke up the next morning I felt this desire in me to attend the Life in the Spirit Seminar once more. Uncertain if anything could still work for me, I gave it a try it was a good thing that the Bukas Loob sa Diyos Community was about to hold an LSS then. This was in November 1990. Here I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I decided to give my whole life to Him yet at the same time I was also skeptical of what would happen next. I enter to see if Lord had totally healed me. Two weeks passed and still felt no craving for dugs or even cigarettes. Then it became three weeks, then a month until I finally was convinced that I was totally healed of my addiction.

In prayer, I thanked God for His gift of freedom. Come to think of it. I almost thought that God wooed me differently. My healing was so complete and so quick I almost thought that it was too good to be true. By this time, our family had also come to know Christ, in fact earlier than I did. My life really experienced a complete turn around. I began to experience the very personal presence of this Jesus who loves me so much. I also became very sensitive to His voice.

In one of my prayer times one day, I just heard Him speaking in my heart that He would use me in a way that I could not comprehend. At another time, I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament and suddenly I felt His presence pressing down on me with such great intensity that I thought I would explode. I couldn’t move. As He was closing in on me. I felt something was coming out of my heart- this inexplicable joy that I cannot explain up to now, then again I heard that familiar whisper deep inside, “That’s just part of my presence. I haven’t given you enough. You really cannot contain me

Last Minute

I also had this impression that I indeed to go back to school. This one I didn’t take sitting down. Presented before Him my transcript just to remind Him how impossible is His will for me. But then He made me trust in Him and so I enrolled in several schools not really knowing what direction to take.

Then I realized that God had gifted me with a listening ear. I found out that I have this gift of counseling, I decided to take up a Behavioral Science course so I enrolled myself in this Catholic school that expectedly turned me down for two reasons: Their school should be the transferee’s second school I didn’t meet their grade requirement. But the registrar there encouraged me to write an appeal letter. I gave it a try and in it I wrote my personal testimony, how I was before and after I met the Lord. A few weeks before classes open, someone from the school administration called me up and congratulated me. She said that I was the first one to avail of this new policy which the school board formulated: that in special cases, the dean has the option to waive the two standing policies!

My Turn

So here I am, serving as one of the three servant leaders of the Singles Ministry of Bukas Loob sa Diyos. Maybe this is what he meant by using me in a way that I cannot comprehend and by being great before His eyes. Maybe not. Maybe He has something greater in store for me. Whatever it is I know that I will excel in everything that I will be doing for Him because I know that I labor in vain.

I thank the Lord for not giving up on me. He pursued me relentlessly and patiently awaited the time when I would yield to His calling. Now I am the one who’s waiting on Him and his verse from Isaiah is what keeps me going”... but they that hope in the Lord will find their strength renewed, they will rise on wings as eagle; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow weak.” (Isaiah 40:31) I know in my heart that whatever lies ahead of me right now, my God shall always be there.

I wanted to tell my Dad, “If that’s how you treat my brother I’d rather be like him than put up with all the restrictions that you impose on me!”

“I almost thought that God wooed me differently."

What is a Compensation Ceremony?

By Fr. Ferdie Samar

(Part Two)

Strange Processions

My stay in Koibuga was short-lived. But it was in Koibuga that I witness to big procession on two different occasions. I say big because almost the entire tribe joined. It was however a different procession from what we have in the Philippines because instead of religious images or statues, the people paraded pigs, cassowaries (a large flightless bird), horses, cows and even crocodiles for “compensation”.

Compensation, next to bride-price-exchange is a common event here in Papua New guinea when a tribe pays another tribe for an offenses or damage made by a member of the tribe like an injury, destruction of property, even death (intentional or otherwise). Failure to compensate would mean a tribal battle.

An Idea Came to Me

For many days I had been thinking about those two “processions” and the practice of compensation and how I could use these processions for pastoral purposes. If people make processions to show how much they can afford to give which is a real show of wealth, I could probably adapt the same practice to teach people not to be ashamed of their faith and how to express it openly. Here in the Highlands, religious practices are confined to the churches and chapels which they call “fellowship houses.”

But I had to do something and not just sit in the rectory, I used the Sunday celebrations to give homilies focusing mainly on peace and reconciliation rooted in the gospel. Every after mass I held meetings with the leaders of the community. After a month I was able to invite them for a leadership retreat. Having been able to get the support and cooperation of thee leaders, I felt confident to visit the people in their villages and fellowship houses. This direct contact with the people enabled me to plan a series of activities.

Statue of Blessed Mother

I then remembered the ‘processions’ I had seen when I was in Koibuga. In the main station, we have a big statue of the Blessed Mother. I told the people one Sunday that the statue will visit all the fellowship houses (we have 18) and will stay in each fellowship house for a week. Every Sunday, they will have procession to the church before the mass. After the mass, members of another fellowship house will take the statue. During the first few weeks, the people were a bit shy and hesitant to join. They are not used to it, so they say. Buy as the weekly procession became a common scenario on the road, people begin to realize its power and meaning in their lives. The procession is just the culmination of the weekly fellowship houses where people gather together for a whole week to pray in the presence of the statue. There they talk about Mary’s message of peace. They also share and reflect on the biblical passage of the visitation.

Tribal War Decline

With these weekly visits, I can see some changes in the lives of people. There were, for example, four fellowship houses which had been closed for a long time due to tribal fights. Since fellowship prayer meetings are held at night, the people were afraid of enemy attack. They even prepared a ‘mumu’ (party where the food serve is cooked in a pit with some hot stones) as a celebration of thanksgiving. Not only that but the Sunday before September 8, we held a big Marian Procession of a whole tribe now proud being Christians.

Keep People Busy

The Marian visits and processions are the ‘highlight’ of our activities in the parish. My objective is to keep people busy so that they would not have time to think of the tribal wars while at the same time strengthen the foundation of their Christian faith. I have regular meetings and consultation with leaders. They were the ones who defined their roles and the scope of their responsibilities. I was able to make them promise not to be involved in the firth should it erupt.

Growth and Renewal

I also visit houses especially when requested to anoint the sick. The celebration of sacraments is still at the center of my pastoral ministry. Since I came into the parish, I was able to baptize about a hundred people. I solemnized two marriages and I welcomed more than 100’lus Kotolik’ [Catholic who left the church and either joined a local Pentecostal group or just stayed away from the Church because of tribal fights] back to the Church. I also invited the Archbishop and he confirmed more than 40 Christians. In spite of thee tension of an on-going tribal fight, our church is always full of people. With the influx of more coming back to the Church and with the catechist doing their job well, we are experiencing a spirit of growth and renewal.

Yon Shin, we really never knew you!

by Yon Shin's newly baptized parents Odem and Mary
ELIZABETH YEAN SIN LIM was  a Columban Lay Missionary assigned in Suva, Fiji. She died of hepatitis at the age of 24 while on mission. Her parents who were not Christians went to Fiji for her funeral where they saw for the first time what Elizabeth had been doing and why. Her grieving father wrote this letter to her after her death.

Dear Yon Shin,

Yesterday, in the Catholic Church you used to attend, your Mom and Dad were baptized with the names Mary and Odem. The death of a child digs a grave in the hearts of parents. But why we don't want to forget you quickly or turn your picture back to front, I don't know.

But I wonder if this is not also what one reporter called "your missionary dream that began with death" -- now once more I live in great peace a life that is lived with you.

If I think back ... because of the restriction of our human ideas that we were not able to defend you at that time;  how much your death saddened the whole family. But that was the way that your spotless person was preserved for ever, and now I am gradually realizing that it was the way the means of accomplishing your great vocation as a missionary.

However, my daughter Elizabeth Yon Shin, when you died your Mom and Dad flew to Fiji and spent two nights with you -- were you aware or not then that your Mom and Dad were with you?

If your Dad had not gone there at that time he would not have realized that you were in the front line of a Catholic movement for reconciliation between the original Fijian people and the immigrant Indian people.

There in Fiji we went to see the village of Nakasi where you lived. Even though they were poor when the simple grannies, the women and children heard the sad news how sad they were!

Seeing the place where you lived I realized how much patience you must have had to live such a poor life with those people. And I went to that island where you seem to have caught the liver inflammation (and heard that you could not preach the Lord's gospel because of not being able to communicate with them, but that with them you drank the unboiled rainwater and you ate the food with your hands...) While there, the photo we look at the Mass became your portrait, and this year on the November page of the Fijian Catholic Calendar your picture appeared with the caption: "Let us remember you as your daughter."

When we came home we gathered those other youths you used to work with and we offered a Mass together, and there was also a Mass in that child centre in Song Nam that you used to work in. Your Dad went a few times to that child care centre and there I saw many people who sacrifice themselves in helping those who live under a cloud, to live a better life. As your Mom and Dad looked into your life's work we became convinced of how good your life was and we embraced your Catholic faith and this too will fulfill a great desire you had.

Praying for your eternal rest and in gratitude for the baptism you brought us.

Your Dad