Misyon Online - July-August 2016

A Man with a Heart of Flesh

Testimonies about Archbishop Patrick Cronin

Paulines RTV Davao Productions
Narrator: Brother Karl Gaspar CSsR

He would always speak well of people. ‘Don’t talk about their negative aspects or their weaknesses, but affirm people,’ he would say to us. I am very much reminded of Archbishop Patrick Cronin’s dedication to the Church as a good shepherd in the large Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

– Sr Mari Murillo FMM –

I believe that God gave us Monsignor Cronin to help us resolve our problems and to help us in our needs.

– Sr Janita Porras MSHF –

If anyone in need came to him he would not refuse to help.

– Mr & Mrs Rafael & Chona Santos –

When I think of Archbishop Cronin, I think of his fatherly care and love.

– Sr Leoni Tumarong MSHF –

San Agustin Metropolitan Cathedral, Cagayan de Oro City [Wikipedia]

There was a family spirit at the meals when Monsignor Cronin gathered the priests to eat together at the Archbishop’s House. We would eat as one big family and the meal would be full of life. If the table was too crowded we’d add more tables. We’d pray the Angelus together and then Grace Before Meals.

There would be lots of fun, with the priests sharing or telling jokes during the meal and Monsignor Cronin would be very happy. We who were serving were very happy to witness this. There was a commendable spirit, different from the present time.

He was very open to helping any priest in need. If the parish couldn’t support a priest he would come to help. He loved the priests so much and would visit each of them, usually unexpectedly. There were instances of him finding that a priest wasn’t in his parish but most of the time the priests were very happy to welcome him.

He was never a bother to a priest when he would visit as he was a simple man who would eat anything. And on occasions such as confirmations when the priest would have prepared an offering for the Archbishop he wouldn’t accept it. He would say, ‘No need. Just keep that for whatever way it may help you and your parish’.

You wouldn't see much improvement in the Archbishop’s House because he'd rather spend on addressing the needs of his flock. The principle that I saw in Monsignor Cronin was, ‘If giving is wrong, then don’t give. But if giving is good, then always give.’

– Fr Pepe Pepoye Cabatingan –

Concelebrants at Mass for 25th death anniversary of Archbishop Patrick Cronin
San Agustin Cathedral, Cagayan de Oro City
Main celebrant: Bishop José A. Cabantan of Malaybalay

Archbishop Patrick Cronin: a Testimony

By Sr Corazon Hilario SPC

Testimony of Sister Corazon

I was walking from the centro of Gitagum, Misamis Oriental, to a barrio when a vehicle with some cargo stopped. Monsignor Cronin was in it. He asked me my name and I told him, ‘I’m Sister Corazon. I’m assigned to Sto Niño High School as a teacher.’ That was the first time I met him.

He often visited us at Sto Niño HS. As I was working as a volunteer catechist in the barrios in Gitagum, he once asked me about the problems of the catechists. I said, ‘Our problem is that the catechists are volunteers and they really need support. We have many catechists, Monsignor, but they are very poor.’ He was just quiet as he listened to me. His Columban friend and classmate, Fr Francis Chapman, knew that I had a hard time going from one parish to another so Father Chapman would give me a ride and Monsignor Cronin would pay for the gasoline, solving another financial problem that I had.

He was very kind. He listened to our problems, to the problems of the poor. And he was very compassionate, very gentle and prayerful. Whenever he visited Gitagum, he would spend time to pray. During fiestas he would just arrive and not ask anybody to prepare for him. He ate whatever served him

Archbishop Cronin, c.1970

When he would see the poor crying, his heart would melt. He once said, "Oh, Corazon, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I pity the people. They really need help.’ That's how he really gave himself to the poor. And that is how I learned also to be more generous. I imbibed that value of Monsignor Cronin, of being compassionate with the poor. That is why until now when I see poor persons who haven’t had breakfast I share whatever we have here. I cannot compare him to anybody else. He was really somebody unique . . . he is really a saint for me!

One time when he was visiting a woman came and said to him, ‘Monsignor, we have no electricity. I have no light.’ So he asked Sr Chantal who was then the administrator, ‘Chantal, Chantal, this woman has no light. Can you give her a line to connect to your electricity?’ Then Sr Chantal said, ‘I don’t know, Monsignor.’ ‘But she’s crying.’ ‘Ay, Monsignor, maybe when I cry also you will give me a piece of land?’

And that’s how we got this piece of land here! So that's one thing I really admired in Monsignor Cronin, his generosity. Because he was so close to the Lord he was loved by the people. I don’t know how I can describe Monsignor Cronin . . . but his generosity to the poor . . .

When we Sisters went to visit his tomb in the Cathedral we prayed and I was thanking the Lord for giving him as my friend, my confessor, my director, my archbishop and everything. He is more a father to me. 

Tomb of Archbishop Cronin being blessed by Bishop José A. Cabantan of Malaybalay
Bishop Cabantan was ordained priest by Archbishop Cronin on 30 April 1990 for the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

CDO Archdiocese Celebrates Archbishop Cronin’s 25th Death Anniversary

By Maria Monica L. Borja

This article was first published in Bag-ong Lamdag, the monthly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Vol. 4 No. 7, March 11- April 12, 2016. It has been slightly edited here.

February 19, 2016 marked the 25th death anniversary of Archbishop Patrick Henry Cronin SSC. The clergy, members of religious communities and the lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro gathered for a tribute dedicated to his life and mission at Lourdes College auditorium on February 20.

The Missionary Sisters of the Holy Family (MSHF) and the Columban Missionaries spearheaded the event. The Catholic Youth of Barra, Opol, and Our Lady of Lourdes High School, Claveria, interpreted the missionary life of Archbishop Cronin through a series of presentations.

Columban Frs John Leydon and Paul Glynn with Fr Rey Raluto

Fr John Leydon, an eco-theologian of the Society of St Columban, was the main speaker at a forum on Laudato Si’, the second encyclical of Pope Francis, which is about ‘Our care for our common home’. Fr Leydon discussed three ways of dealing with the issue: to SEE, JUDGE, and ACT. ‘Tignan mabuti ang problema, alamin ang ugat nito, at ang wastong pagtugon dito,’ he pointed out. In addition, Fr Reynaldo Raluto SSJV, one of the speakers, called for help in solving the ecological issue. ‘Akong panawagan nga mananum ta’g kahoy,’ he said.

Sr Janita D. Porras, Superior of the MSHF, said they chose speakers who would discuss the environment because helping those in need was one of the late Archbishop’s advocacies. Related to ecological issues, a practical solution was introduced during the celebration, that is, organic farming. Sr Marian Tagupa MSHF gave an introduction to and a demonstration of proper kitchen waste management.

Registration for Lourdes College activity

Fr Rudolfo Galenzoga, parish priest of Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Diocese of Iligan, and his band, Hiyas Ali, boosted the energy levels of the participants.  Furthermore, video presentations featuring the legacy of Archbishop Cronin were also shown. The celebration concluded with a thanksgiving Mass for the late Archbishop at San Agustin Metropolitan Cathedral with Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ as main celebrant, together with the clergy of Cagayan de Oro and Columban priests.

Archbishop Patrick Cronin

Patrick H. Cronin was born in 1913 in the village of Moneygall, County Offaly, Ireland, where a maternal ancestor of President Obama of the USA was the village shoemaker. He was ordained as a Columban priest in 1937 and came to the Philippines in 1938. He served in Mindanao until his death in Cagayan de Oro on 19 February 1991. He shared the hardships of World War II with the people, spending most of the time in the mountains.

In 1951 the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Misamis Occidental, then part of the Diocese of Cagayan de Oro, were made into the Prelature of Ozamiz. Later that year Cagayan de Oro became an archdiocese under Archbishop James Hayes SJ, an American. The Prelature of Ozamiz didn’t get a bishop until 1955 when Fr Cronin was appointed as its first prelate. He was appointed Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro in October 1970. What was then the Prelature of Ozamiz is now the Archdiocese of Ozamiz, the Diocese of Iligan and the Prelature of Marawi.

Columban News

First Irish Columban Centenarian

Fr Daniel Fitzgerald
100 years old, 28 June 2016

Congratulations to Fr Dan Fitzgerald, born in the city of Cork, Ireland, on 28 June 1916 and ordained on 21 December 1939. He is the first Irish Columban to reach the venerable age of 100 and the second Columban to do so. Fr Bernard Toal from the USA turned 100 on 17 October last year.

May God continue to fill the hearts of both with joy.

Ad multos annos! To many years!

[Editor's Note: Father Fitzgerald died peacefully in Ireland on 9 August.]

Collect for Priests

O God, who made your Only Begotten Son eternal High Priest,
grant that those he has chosen
as ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may be found faithful in carrying out
the ministry they have received.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Two Korean Columbans Ordained as Deacons

Bishop Chung Soon-taek laying hands on Rev Seok Jinwook Antonio

Rev Seok Jinwook Antonio and Rev Ryu Sunjong Andrew were ordained as deacons on 28 May in Don Am Dong Parish, Seoul by Bishop Chung Soon-taek Peter OCD, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul. The two Koreans had been studying at Loyola School of Theology (LST), Quezon City, where they recently passed their final comprehensive examinations along with Filipino Columban seminarian Eldie Barrientos.

Reverend Jinwook Antonio(L) and Reverend Sunjong Andrew with Bishop Chung Soon-taek

On 30 April the two new deacons took their final oath of aggregation as members of the Missionary Society of St Columban at a Mass in the Columban House of Formation, Cubao, QC, at which Regional Director Fr Dan O’Malley was the main celebrant. The families of Rev Antonio and Rev Andrew came from Korea for the occasion as did Fr Joseph Yang Changwoo, Rector of St Columban’s Formation House, Seoul. He served on mission before in the Philippines on First Mission Assignment (FMA) as a seminarian and later as a priest.

Two Columbans Ordained Priests in Chile

Bishop Ossandón with Frs Rafael (L) and Gonzalo [FB]

On 25 June Bishop Pedro Mario Ossandón Buljevic, one of the auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile, ordained two Chilean Columbans to the priesthood, Fr Rafael Ramírez Salazar and Fr Gonzalo Bórquez Díaz. The ceremony took place in San Columbano Parish, El Bosque (‘The Forest’), Santiago de Chile. Both spent two years, 2012-14, in Korea on First Mission Assignment.

¡Felicidades! Congratulations! Ad multos annos to our two young priests!

Frs Rafael and Gonzalo beside image of St Columban

Two Short Videos in Spanish Featuring the New Priests

Father Rafael

Father Gonzalo

Mission-sending of Columban Lay Missionaries

Sa gitna ng mga bansa sabihing, ‘Diyos ay Dakila!’
I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord.

The text above (Psalm 56[57]:10 was the response to the responsorial psalm at the mission-sending Mass of Columban Lay Missionary Marea Lyn Almirañez.

Mission-sending of Febie Gonzalez. Columban Fr Kurt Zion Pala on right.

Columban Lay Missionary Febie Gonzales had her parish mission-sending on 10 April 2016 during the 6:00am Mass at Immaculate Conception Parish, Alamada, Cotabato. The parish belongs to the Archdiocese of Cotabato. Fr John Angelo G. Gamino DCC was the main celebrant. Members of Febie’s family were there along with relatives and friends, members of the different religious organizations to which she belonged, members of the Columban family, along with the wider parish community.

The whole parish rejoiced in the commissioning of Febie as a lay missionary, the first from Alamada Parish and the first Columban missionary from Cotabato Province. Though Febie was sad because her mother in hospital, she said in faith, ‘But in the absence of my biological mother, my second Mom, her twin sister who has shown and given me the same love and support since I was young, and all my spiritual mothers are present. I shed tears of prayer for healing and total surrender. My “yes” to God is my “yes” to everything that will happen according to His will.’

Marea Lyn Almirañez

Marea Lyn Almirañez had her mission-sending Mass at 4:30pm, 29 April, at St Ezekiel Moreno Chapel, San Sebastian College–Recoletos Manila with Fr Casiano A Cosmilla OAR as main celebrant. Members of Marea Lyn’s family attended along with friends from San Sebastian College-Recoletos Manila, San Beda College, Mother of Life Center, the Columbans and other friends. Marea Lyn had hoped to have her mission-sending Mass in her own parish but that didn’t work out.

Marea Lyn was grateful for everyone present. As she expressed, ‘I was rejected by one priest but I have been blessed with the presence of many priests, especially Columbans. I was not sent off by my parish but by people who are close to me. God is really good . . . all the time!’

Both Febie and Marea Lyn expressed deep gratitude for their meaningful celebrations, for the presence of people who filled the events with so much love, and for graces received from God that led them to lay mission.

Febie Gonzales and Marea Lyn Almirañez were appointed by the Missionary Society of St Columban to go on cross-cultural mission to Taiwan. They flew there on 15 June.

Marea Lyn’s parents, Democrito and Ligaya, at her mission-sending


My Art Contribution for the Lay Mission Auction

By Cynthia Empleo

The author, from Bicol, worked as a Columban Lay Missionary in Fiji from 2000 until 2003. She is now the Administrative Assistant in the Mission Office at St Columban’s, Singalong Street, Manila.

It all started during the Advent retreat in 2015 for returned Columban Lay Missionaries (CLMs) living in Luzon. It was held at Little Flower Retreat House in Baguio. Columban Fr Finbar Maxwell, our retreat director, asked us to draw or just do any art thing to represent the reflections and emotions we were having during the retreat. I scribbled with the provided drawing paper and pastel colors. Over the course of two days I finished seven drawings.

When Arlenne Villahermosa, a CLM from Talisay City, Cebu, who served before in Korea and was until recently CLM Coordinator in the Philippines, saw my drawings she asked if I could donate them for the auction to be held on the occasion of the CLMs’ 25th Anniversary celebrations. Looking at the wall where we posted our reflections, I realized that I could form the four seasons using four drawings from among the seven. So I agreed because I now had a theme to begin with.

This is The Four Seasons, initially humble scribbles of my retreat reflections, that I submit to those who would see the beauty behind the simple lines and the meaning behind the ordinary images. I am Cynthia, born on Earth Day and like leaves in the changing seasons, I sprout, I blossom, I breathe and I die.

With the auction in mind, I gathered materials and found interesting potentials in the Columban back garden, two old tree trunks. I cut them into two pieces each and made ‘The Ode to Flowers’.

The first piece of wood art, Forest Fairies, is a tribute to Savanna termites because they light up green at night to attract prey but at sunlight they become ordinary ant mounds. I used flower lights for night time and a parading pearl sequence for da time to imitate the ever hardworking ants. This hardwood has many ‘caves’ and entrances for the termites.

The second work from that piece of wood is Tinkerbell’s Treasure: This flower-adorned wood is meant for little fairy girls. Tinkerbell is perched atop the trunk and peeping down at the flower lights hidden inside the hollow driftwood like gems. Though this art work is made of dead wood and plastic flowers, it is meant to show that a time may come when trees will have no flowers and our children’s children will only be told about the dreamy petals of a rose represented by plastic -  if we will not do something to preserve our environment.

The third piece of wood is The Night Watch: This piece of wood was so nice that after I cleaned and prepared it, I decided not to put any flowers in it. It is tall, hollow and full of holes. What the insects and nature have done to it is a piece of art in itself. I just inserted a yellow mosquito repellant bulb to enhance its natural curves. So I called it The Night Watch - protecting me from mosquitoes.

The fourth piece is still a work in progress.

We prepared some promotional materials to be given out at the auction and also some small items for sale for the fundraising aspect of our office – Mission Promotion and Fundraising.

The ‘Exam Time’ prayer keychain with rosary;
The ‘Mother’s Day’ keychain gift;
The ‘Fr Michael Vernon Douglas’ keychain with rosary. (We aim to promote devotion to Fr Douglas and his cause as a martyr of the faith.)

‘Exam Time’ prayer keychain with rosary

‘Mother’s Day’ keychain

‘Fr Francis Vernon Douglas’ keychain with rosary.

We aim to encourage devotion to him and to promote his cause as a Martyr.

Clockwise from left, standing: Rowena ‘Owence’ Caggauauan, Elizabeth Briones, Fr Finbar Maxwell, Mai San Juan, Anna Noh Hye-In, Cynthia Empleo, Arlenne Villahermosa and Violie Villaraiz.

As Owence shared in our Facebook:

‘Finally we were able to come together in prayer! Gathering the gifts of life in mission where we were assigned and sent, we reflected, prayed and gave thanks to the God who called each one of us.’

Thank you, Father Finbar, for facilitating the retreat. Thanks to Arlenne for organizing it and to Anna Noh Hye-In for joining us.

Peace By Peace

Man Praying, Van Gogh, 1883
Private Collection [Web Gallery of Art]

Do you seriously believe that such horrors are indispensable to a man who wants to do what I want to do: give peace to poor creatures and reconcile them to their existence on earth?
– Vincent van Gogh, Artist (1853 – 1890)

Statue of St Paulinus in Nola, near Naples [Wikipedia]

I pray that we may be found worthy to be cursed, censured, and ground down, and even put to death in the name of Jesus Christ, so long as Christ himself is not put to death in us. The Christian must not only accept suffering: he must make it holy.

St Paulinus of Nola (c.354 – 431)

Holy Trinity, Andrei Rublev, c.1411
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow [Web Gallery of Art]

Take two heaping cups of patience,
One heartful of love,
Two handfuls of generosity,
A dash of laughter.
One headful of understanding.
Sprinkle generously with kindness
And plenty of faith, and mix well.
Spread over a period of a lifetime
And serve everybody you meet.

    – J. Maurus, Living Moments of Sunshine

    Sophie Scholl – The Final Days (Trailer)

    I’m still so remote from God that I don’t even sense his presence when I pray. Sometimes when I utter God’s name, in fact, I feel like sinking into a void. It isn’t a frightening or dizzying sensation, it’s nothing at all – and that’s far more terrible. But prayer is the only remedy for it, and however many devils scurry around inside me, I shall cling to the rope God has thrown me, even if my numb hands can no longer feel it.

    Sophie Scholl (1921-1943)

    So much violence in our world is the result of not facing the shadow within. It’s there, straining to express itself. Rather than acknowledge it, many find it easier to project part of it onto others, despise them for it, then hurt them for what we’re really not facing in ourselves. The ugliness of racism is often due to unacknowledged tendencies within, like cruelty, or callousness, which are ‘seen’ in people of another color, whom we then ‘punish’ as a subconscious way of correcting our own inner imbalance.

    – Words of Peace: Gerard A. Vanderhaar on Personal Nonviolence, Our Shadow Side

    Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice
    Constructed by Fr Giovanni [Wikipedia]

    No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present instant. Take peace.
    The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within reach, is joy. Take joy.

    – Fra Giovanni Giocondo OFM, 1513

    Cowardice asks the question: is it safe?
    Expediency asks the question: is it politic?
    Vanity asks the question: is it popular?
    But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular – but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.  

    – Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968)

Pulong ng Editor

‘Let’s go to the Archbishop’

This issue highlights a number of joyful events for Columbans. We thank God for the 100 years of life that God has given Fr Daniel Fitzgerald and wish him many more years among us. Father Dan is the last of the Irish ‘old China hands’ who worked in that great country before all missionaries were expelled in the early 1950s. He served there under our Co-founder Bishop Edward Galvin.

We also thank God for our two new Korean deacons, the Reverend Seok Jinwook Antonio and Reverend Sunjong Andrew. Both studied theology in the Philippines and spent two years on First Mission Assignment (FMA) in Taiwan. Two Chileans who had served in Korea on their FMA were recently ordained priests, Fr Rafael Ramirez Salazar and Fr Gonzalo Borquez Diaz. And we thank God too for the two Filipino Columban Lay Missionaries who went to Taiwan recently, Marea Lyn Almirañez and Febie Gonzales.

All of these follow in the tradition of the late Columban Archbishop Patrick Cronin of Cagayan de Oro whose 25th death anniversary was marked by the people of that archdiocese. Your editor knew Archbishop Cronin quite well. Two incidents stand out. One afternoon while I was having merienda with him in Cagayan de Oro he was called downstairs and came back about 15 minutes later with a smile on his face. Two tinderas, who had booths on the plaza in front of St Augustine’s Cathedral where they sold religious goods, had had a disagreement. Instead of allowing it to develop into ‘World War Three’ they decided to consult the Archbishop. He listened to them and sent them away happy.

The other incident was also at the Archbishop’s House, again when I was visiting. At supper I expressed myself rather strongly about certain politicians, with all the brashness and self-righteousness that often goes with youth. I had been in the Philippines only about two years. After supper Monsignor Cronin invited me for a paseo in the cathedral grounds and very gently reminded me that perhaps I had overstepped the mark with my comments.

I saw in those two incidents the wonderful humanity of this great priest, who knew what suffering was. He spent World War Two in the mountains of Misamis Occidental sharing the hardships of the people. He once told me how he loved during those years when there would be a fiesta, no matter how subdued, because he could eat meat. And he had no contact with his family in Ireland and little or none with his fellow Columbans in Luzon, six of whom were killed in the war.

Perhaps the greatest suffering in the life of Archbishop Cronin was a month before he celebrated his seventh birthday. His father, Sergeant Henry Cronin of the Royal Irish Constabulary, the national police force when the whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, was shot outside his home on Hallowe’en 1920 during the Irish War of Independence, and died early on All Saints’ Day. By chance, in 1976 I met the man who had killed Sergeant Cronin. I mentioned this to the Archbishop a long time later. He had long since forgiven those involved. He wrote in a letter to relatives and family friends on the 69th anniversary of his father’s death, ‘I have forgiven those who shot him, even though they were our neighbors - but I can never forget.’

And those who knew Archbishop Cronin, ‘A Man with a Heart of Flesh’, can never forget the love of the Word Made Flesh that was so evident in his life.

Saving the Blessed Sacrament

By John Lambert R. Minimo

The author graduated last March from the University of the East, Manila, where Columban Fr Bernard Martin, now 85, is chaplain. Lambert is a member of Opus Angelorum (The Third Order of the Order of the Canons Regular of the Holy Cross).

‘In omnibus Amare et Servire Dominum. In everything, love and serve the Lord.’ These words inspired me every day in campus ministry at the University of the East (UE), Manila, where I graduated last March. I was the Overall Student Responsible of Student Catholic Action – Christian Communities Program (UE SCA-CCP), UE’s campus ministry. Balancing study and campus ministry work wasn’t easy.

But through one event God proved that He is with me, guides and strengthens my faith in Him.

Chapel before fire

April 1, 2016 10:00 pm 

I was alone in the Chaplain’s Office finalizing the preparations for the 85th birthday celebration of Fr Bernard Martin, our chaplain, the following day. After leaving the office I went to the chapel and prayed, ‘Lord, ikaw na ang bahala bukas.’ (Lord, you take care of tomorrow’s event.) And I went home.


April 2, 2016 9:00 am (Celebration of Fr Martin’s Birthday)

My fire volunteer friend John Paul Justin Aquino phoned me and said, ‘Kuya Lambert, nasusunog ang UE!’ (UE is on fire!). I thought immediately of the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel, nothing else. The true body of Christ in the tabernacle should not be burned. I rushed to the Recto Gate of UE and saw the smoke rising from UE as I passed San Sebastian Basilica, my heart beating so fast. At Recto Gate, I saw my adviser, Tita Tess De Jesus. ‘Tita Tess, yung Blessed Sacrament.’ I was crying because I wanted to save the Lord from the fire but the security guards would not let me enter.

After fire

I called Ate Beth Briones of campus ministry – she had been a Columban lay missionary in Fiji - Fr Martin, and others in campus ministry and told them not to come to UE. The celebration of Fr. Martin’s birthday was transferred to the Columban House in Singalong Street. But I stayed, hoping to enter the chapel to save the Lord from fire. The scene with burned buildings was like ‘the fires of hell’. I heard that the chapel was damaged. I started praying, ‘Lord, I will save you no matter what happens.’ I stayed at the gate with other campus ministry members.

Charred statue

In the early afternoon with the help of Dexter A. Villanueva, Campus Organizations Coordinator, I got permission to enter the campus. We discovered that the statues in the chapel and the processional cross had been saved. They were saved including the processional cross. Nabuhayan ako ng loob na maisave ang Blessed Sacrament sa Chapel.
But it was mid-afternoon before I finally got permission to enter the chapel, with the help of Director of the Office of Extensions and Community Outreach, Roger Espiritu who said to me, ‘I will not go home until the Blessed Sacrament is safe.’ Ms Annie Villegas, Director, Department of Administrative Services, and a security guard accompanied me to the chapel at 3:00 pm.

Crucifix untouched by fire

When I saw the altar, I was shocked. The large crucifix hadn’t been touched by fire.  I genuflected to it as a sign of reverence to the Lord. I started to sing hymns we use at Mass. I went to the sacristy to get corporals with which to wrap the pyx containing the Blessed Sacrament. I put on my sotana and handed the Paschal Candle to the guard. As I opened the tabernacle I started to sing ‘O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine’. I wrapped the pyx and placed the Blessed Sacrament in my pocket. Before leaving I looked at the crucifix. The Lord seemed to be saying to me, ‘Lambert, Anak. Don’t worry, I am here pa. I am safe. You can take me. We conquered the fire, I stood up and I am here.’ That was a moment I will never forget. He clearly spoke to my heart.

Accompanied by my friend John Paul I went to the Recto Gate for a taxi. While we waited a naked child approached me and pulled on my sotana, asking for something. I had nothing to give but placed my hand on his head and said, ‘God bless you’. He then ran away.

Then a security guard approached us to tell us that a UE van would take us to the Columban house. As we traveled I continued to sing ‘O Sacrament Most Holy’ while embracing the Blessed Sacrament tightly. My head continued to ache, I was very hungry and my hands were shaking.

Fr Bernard Martin’s birthday celebration

When we arrived at St Columban’s it was already after 4:00 pm and Fr Martin’s birthday celebration had already started. When he met me he transferred the Blessed Sacrament to the tabernacle in the chapel. After that I said to the Lord, ‘You are safe na, Lord’. I asked Fr Dan O’Malley, the Superior, and Fr John Keenan if I had done something wrong.  They said. ‘No, you just saved the Blessed Sacrament. Thank you’. It was only then that I could smile.

This was an experience I will never forget. Out of my love for the Blessed Sacrament, I would do anything for Him, even in my simplest way. Even in the toughest moments, the Lord is always there to remind me and call me anytime He needs my help.

Beth Briones, Fr Bernard Martin, John Lambert Minimo, UE Campus Ministery 2015-16


To Search is To Find

To Search is to find

July-August 2016

We cannot solve all the problems in the world. Every day there is a cause promoted and a need from somewhere. If I am to be generous, when do I say that it's my turn to give? Does it also have to do with feeling the need to do so? Since there are also fake needs/causes and false generosity.

21,000 who responded to a specific, temporary need and made a difference

Yes, indeed, none of us can solve all the problems of the world nor should we attempt to do so. We are faced with endless needs that affect us.

In the Gospels Jesus heals a number of people. Most of the healing stories, whether physical or spiritual, involve individuals such as Bartimaeus the blind man, the Samaritan woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the mother-in-law of St Peter, the daughter of Jairus, the paralyzed man let down through the roof by his friends – a marvellous story. I imagine that his friends were young men aged between 18 and 21 or so!

There are instances of Jesus healing all those who were brought to him and his feeding of the five thousand.

Jesus was well aware of the problems of his day. Jesus is God who became Man. But he didn’t ‘solve’ all these problems. He rather gave us a way of living, a way of responding to needs that we are aware of and that we can do something about. He also tells us in Matthew 25: 31-46, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me . . .’ (v.36). This is the story of the Last Judgement where he identifies himself with those in need.

The Lord invites us to respond where we can, but not where we cannot. He invites us to respond not just by giving money or alms but, where possible, by getting personally involved. Many get involved with others by joining groups that have a specific apostolate.

Some are called by God to work to change situations that cause suffering or injustice. That is the vocation of the politician, for example. Others are called to deal with suffering itself, doctors and nurses, those working in refugee camps, for example.

And the Lord also calls us to trust in his providence, to trust that He will call others to respond to needs that we are aware of but cannot do anything about ourselves.

The Pope’s Evangelization Prayer Intention for August, with ‘Living the Gospel’ as its theme, is That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor. In the video below Janine Geske, a former member of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, USA, reflects on this.

[Source: Apostleship of Prayer]

Why are there bad people in the world? Why does God allow them to hurt others?

I came across this passage recently in a book called Where Silence is Praise by a Carthusian, published in London, England, by Darton, Longman and Todd in 1960. It is on page 128. The author, a Carthusian monk, is responding to a question similar to that above.

Young Jew as Christ, Rembrandt, c.1648
Staatliche Museen, Berlin [Web Gallery of Art]

In the midst of all the horrors, atrocities and crimes which are being committed in the world, God sees only his Son. He gave him to the world: an immense, infinite proof of his love. God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son. The Word passes down the centuries, radiating light and love. He was the true light that enlightened everyone coming into the world, inviting everyone to come and be united to him. He gave [them] power to become children of God. God sees only this well-beloved Son, and those who in receiving him become his living image, his reproduction. The world exists for no other purpose than this.

God does not force us to come to him, for then love would not be the true motive. There must be a loving response on our part. Some accept him, and then God loves them in his Son. United to him, they become one with him, and the Father looks upon them both with a single regard of delight. Others refuse him, and God seems to leave them to themselves, to what they have chosen, to follow their own way, as if he no longer  looked upon them: but only as long as their refusal is obstinate and persistent, for he calls to everyone again and again.

We Found Our Home in Thailand

By Christine Uy

Our family migrated to Thailand in March 2009, packing with us our excitement about our new life in this Buddhist country. There were qualms and uncertainties at first as we thought of the challenges we would be facing, especially as Catholics. We had to travel more than two hours to attend Mass in English.

Uy Family 2015

But the adjustment period was surprisingly easy. There are many Christian Thais, Catholics and others. And a couple of years after we arrived in Bangkok, while we were looking for a place to open a restaurant, my brother told me one day that he had found the perfect place. We named our restaurant ‘Gallardo’s Bistro’ as our tribute to our beloved dad, Gallardo Sr, who had always dreamed of having his own restaurant before he passed away. My husband Shao and I had been fervently praying that such a place would be near a Catholic church. It’s not easy to commute with a toddler in the center of Bangkok. By the grace of God, a month after we opened our restaurant, we had a customer who happened to be the priest who celebrates the English Mass at Assumption University, a five-minute walk from our restaurant and apartment.  Call it coincidence, but we call it ‘God’s plan in action!’

This priest was dressed in a white shirt and jeans and when he knew that we weren’t Thais - we were speaking English - asked if we were from the Philippines. Surprised, I said, ‘Why do you ask?’ He smiled and said he knew some Filipinos who happened to be conducting a Christian Life Seminar at the church on campus and would be happy to introduce us to the leaders. ‘Thank you, Lord!’, I said to myself, trying to contain my joy while knowing that God had answered our prayers.

Khona Kaen University, Thailand, King Rama IV monument,
King Rama IV Monument, Khon Kaen University [Wikipedia]

Without any hesitation, even if our restaurant was doing very well, we decided to close it on Sundays so that we could attend Mass. We became actively involved in Couples for Christ Foundation for Family & Life (CFC-FFL). Most of the members are Filipinos. We were commissioned to lead a number of married couples. When we began, Thomas was almost two and was able to enjoy Kids for Christ activities.

Work permits and visa requirements were a must for us to stay longer and legally in Thailand, so we had no option but to stop the restaurant business.  I got a teaching job at one of the foremost International Tourism & Hospitality colleges in Bangkok, teaching Tourism courses through English. Then again, God had a better and bigger plan for me and family: I got a better job offer at Khon Kaen University.  We have been living now for more than five years in Khon Kaen, a city of about 115,000 people, about six hours by road from the bustling city of Bangkok.

We never had any difficulty expressing our Catholic faith as Thailand respects all religions. Some Buddhist ideals, such as how the people honor their elders, inspired us. 95 percent of my students are Buddhist. As an educator, I also share with them some of our Catholic customs. The students are open to these things and accept that we are different. I am teaching in the Tourism program so it is somehow relevant that I get to explain to my students about different cultures and traditions.

The advantage of being a ‘Pinay’ teacher in Thailand is that schools and universities are hiring and keeping Filipino teachers because of our good work ethic. I’m proud to say that a great number of Filipino educators here are being recognized by the Thai government and by private companies because we Pinoys are committed to excellence and take pride in our work.

Khona Kaen University, Thailand, Sithan Gate,
Sithan Gate, Khona Kaen University [Wikipedia]

I was surprised that most Thais, especially the young generation, are not as fervent, perhaps, in practicing their religion as we are in the Philippines. There are temples everywhere but you don’t always see Thai people going to them to pray. They do so only on very special occasions.

There are aspects of Buddhist wisdom that we admire such as tolerance and non-dissension. It’s a belief system that many feel can help them be ‘detached’, maintain neutrality, and find peace in a world of injustice and suffering. That somehow has taught us to reflect on our Christian values and ideals.

We definitely had our share of struggles and challenges when we moved to Thailand: trying to find a decent job in a competitive market, taking care of our children without a nanny (it's hard and expensive to find one who can speak even a little English!), living in a one-room apartment instead of in a nice house, and trying to adjust to the Thai way of life.

Morning in Khon Kaen

Nonetheless, our life journey in Thailand, which we consider our second home, has also been a test of faith, especially for my husband Shao. We have encountered some bumps along the way both in our marriage and in our finances. We almost got to the point of giving up and contemplated going back to the Philippines when we were confronted with various challenges. But God works wonders! He simply opened doors of great opportunities for us that led us to where we are right now. I have also witnessed how God worked on Shao’s faith, how He changed him into a prayer warrior and made him feel that there is nothing impossible if we pray and keep our faith together.

God sent us in Thailand for a good reason. Our faith has made us stronger as a couple. There will be struggles, disappointments and places on our journey where we get discouraged. But as a family we believe that if we entrust everything solely to the Lord wherever we are, in the Philippines or here in Thailand, He will always have our back!