January-February 2002

Slow Learner

By Fr Neil Collins MSSC

“Young people today find it very difficult to make a permanent commitment.”  I’ve heard this many times in recent years, and to some extent I can understand what they mean, because of my own mixed-up history. Many years ago I became a priest, then left the priesthood, and heard God’s call again.

Kalahari Desert Becomes A Nation

By Sr Remedios delos Reyes OSB

About a decade ago, the order of Mary of Immaculate came to Windhoek to start the first mission here in Namibia, Southern Africa. In 1923 my own congregation, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing also went to Namibia to do their apostolates – health and education programs. It’s easy to feel at home here in Namibia. Namibians are very much like us Filipinos. They give importance to family life, education and of course they also love eating and having fun.

Small Population

Namibia is one of the least densely populated countries in the world with an average of 1.3 persons per kilometer. Eleven languages weave a rich cultural tapestry. However, English is the official language since 1990 (Independence Year); Afrikaans and German are also widely used here. There are also eleven ethnic groups in Namibia and the Ovambos are the largest group.

Dust Of Life

By Christina Noble

Christina Noble was a street child in the city of Dublin, Ireland. Her father was alcoholic and she suffered unspeakably. But it is one of the mysteries of life that she has risen from the ashes of her childhood and given her life to helping street children in Vietnam. Vietnam, like the Philippines, has thousands of street children and homeless children. The editor of the Korean version of Misyon, Fr Malachy Smyth, a Columban missionary in Korea, has interviewed Christina and has allowed us to share that interview with you our readers of Misyon.

Who Is The Running Priest?

By Gee-Gee O. Torres, assistant editor

Before I left for Manila to attend the National Congress of the Laity last year, I received an email from our editor, Fr Niall O’Brien, who was on vacation in Ireland.  He said we would feature Fr Robert Reyes in Misyon.  Fr Niall sent me some materials for the article but we needed a personal story to go with it.  Since I was on my way to Manila, I decided to visit and interview Fr Robert in his parish in UP Diliman, Quezon City.

The Interview

This was my first time to interview a prominent figure.  I was nervous.  I had to ask a friend to accompany me.  I waited outside his office and after a few minutes of bearing the agony of anticipation, a man came out and invited me in.  It was no other than Fr Reyes himself.  He was very accommodating. During the interview I was just like having a casual conversation with a friend.  Thirty minutes was all I got for he had another appointment at 5:00 pm so I had to get down to work right away.

Fr Robert Reyes, popularly known as The Running Priest, is from Malabon, the eldest in a family of four, studied AB Philosophy in Ateneo de Manila University, joined the San Jose Seminary and ordained into priesthood in 1982.  Presently he is the parish priest of the Holy Sacrifice Church in UP Diliman.

Becoming almost an Athlete

Running wasn’t really Fr Robert’s sports since childhood.  However when he contracted tuberculosis a year before the joined the seminary, his doctor told him that if he really wanted to recover and stay away from TB he must become almost an athlete.  He had to develop his cardiovascular abilities.  “I had to learn to bike, to run and to swim regularly.  In the seminary there was a swimming pool, lots of open space for running and there was a bicycle.  So talagang doon, sineryoso ko na. From 1970 up to the present, I run, I swim, I bike,” said Fr Reyes.

A Land Of Blood And Poison

By Hugh O’Shaughnessy

Since we have Filipino missionaries in Colombia, this should be of interest to the readers. Apart from that, it is interesting that in Colombia the beleaguered peasants have started Peace Zones as we did in the Philippines in the nineties. Colombia is a very large country. There are areas of the land which are mercifully free from the turmoil we describe here. (Ed.)

Scores of Oscar Romeros, martyrs for their faith, for peace and for their fellow men and women, are going to their deaths every year in Colombia. Lay and clerical they die, as people are sucked into a swamp of mud and blood, war, poison and deceit which has no present parallel in the Western Hemisphere and few, if any, parallels in any other parts of the world. The killing has been going on for half a century, well before Colombia was a source of drugs. In the decade after the killing of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, a popular Liberal leader, in 1948, more Colombians died in battles between Liberals and Conservatives than Britain lost in the Second World War. The killing continues.

I Searched For You

By Aissa P. Bautista

It was year 1995, the 10th World Youth Day in Manila – an event which changed the course of my life. It was the call of the Holy Father to the Filipino youth: “Commit yourselves fully in following the saving mission of Christ. In your own world first: in your families, communities and in the nation to which you belong and which you love, and in the wider world of Asia.” That prompted me to leave my job in favor of mission work.

In Peru, Things Are Moving

The Church in Peru becomes more missionary

By Fr John O’Connell MSSC

When I first came here some forty years ago and worked in the parish of Saint Martin de Porres we had an average of five pastoral meetings per week.  We had one central church where we celebrated seven Masses on Sunday with two morning masses on weekdays.

Now as I work in the parish of St. Peter and St. Paul, with much the same number of Catholics (40,000) we have chapels for each five communities, each with its own pastoral council and activities.  There is an ever increasing need to decentralize and to have lots of meeting rooms.

When The Sea Is Calm…

By Ma. Catalina O. Torres

Love is not as simple as giving roses and chocolates on Valentine’s  Day.  Nor is it as easy as cutting red cartolinas into hearts.  It entails a lot of sacrifices, too.  Here is a simple story of a woman who braved through the storms because of her love for her family.

I met my husband, Raul, in his uncle’s house in Quezon City, where I was boarding with a friend and co-teacher in Maryknoll Grade School.  He came to visit his father who was recuperating from a heart ailment.  His stay was so short that we didn’t even get introduced to one another.

The World Out There

By Sr. Wilfredis Jacob, ssps

All religious orders now have some sort of an immersion program, a way of getting their postulants or applicants to see if they can survive as religious in the real world out there. Sr. Wilfredis took some photos to the immersion program in which she took part.

Sr. Elizabeth Ankrah, a young Ghanian SSpS preparing for her perpetual vows, with Sr. Wlifredis during an informal sharing session.

Amidst Guns, We Light Candles

By Sr. Norma More DC

In the strife-torn Holy Land, Filipino missionary Sr. Norma More, dc, together with her companions of different nationalities, strives to look after the handicapped children from each of the three religious communities – Jewish, Muslim, Christian – which make up the population of Palestine. St. Vincent’s Home, amidst present political and racial disharmony, in its own way bears witness to God’s call to peace. Sr. Norma tells us about their trials and joys. (Ed.)

St. Vincent’s Home is one of the places in Israel where one can just be himself irrespective of creed, race, nationality and political ideologies. Yesterday evening was one of the several celebrations that gave concrete evidence to this. One of the employees who has worked here for many years was leaving for good. A thank you party was held in the garden and it was attended by almost all of the personnel including the sisters and some of the children. Everybody danced to the sound of the tamtam, Jews and Arabs alike plus the volunteers from different countries. There was a deep joy radiating from each and everyone present. For me, it wasn’t just an ordinary gathering, it very much resembled that of a “Messianic Banquet”.

The Act Of Giving

By Bo Sanchez

One day, I discovered I only had P9,000.00 left in my savings – tucked safely in my desk drawer. Actually, I still had some P700.00 in my wallet – but even with that, I was still probably the poorest “Chairman of the Board” this universe has ever known.

At about nine that morning, a member of our Catholic group called up and told me that her daughter was in the hospital. She needed P9,000.00 pronto!

“Lord, how could you?” I whispered under my breath. “Why do You always have to be so exact? Why do You always ask for all that I have?”

“Pick up your money here,” I told her as cheerfully as I could, hiding my anxiety. At the back of my mind, I was already imagining the dire and morbid consequences of my decision. Living with only P700.00 in my wallet meant not eating pizza for a few years (Oh, no!), jogging to my prayer meetings and wearing the same old clothes I have until I reached 75.

A few minutes later, another friend barged through our front door, weeping and telling me about her family problems. It ended with her very nervous plea, “Bo, can you give me P500.00?”

I started to laugh, “Not P700.00?”

Letter To Loretta

By the late Fr Aedan McGrath MSSC

Fr Aedan McGrath died suddenly two years ago on Christmas day. He was a veteran missionary from China as our story will show but he also spent many long years here in the Philippines promoting the Legion of Mary and a movement called INCOLAE, which sent lay missionaries from the Philippines to Oceania. While in China his passing friendship with the famous film star, Loretta Young, turned out to be a blessing which would help to save many lives. Read the letter which sixty years later or more he sent to Loretta. It will explain everything.

Dear Loretta,

You have no reason to remember me, but I have many reasons to remember you and your name, because your name as a famous film actress, and as one working for the Church (especially with Father Peyton), helped to solve one impossible problem I had in my parish in China about 1939.

I was then about 30 and I am now 94! But I did have the good fortune to meet you in Hollywood when visiting there. I even knelt beside you in the chapel during Benediction, and we did have a little chat.