July-August 1996

Chaplain to the Dispossessed

By Fr. Eugene Docoy, SVD

Fr. Eugene was born in Bohol in 1961. He studied at the SVD Seminary in Tagaytay and was ordained in 1987. In 1989, he went to Korea to work in the Diocese of Suwon near Seoul. He speaks fluent Korean which is a great advantage when he was to mediate between Filipino Workers and their Korean employees. It is estimated that there are 30,000 Filipino workers in Korea.

One year ago Ali Sher came to Korea legally as a ‘student trainee’. At 38 years of age, he is in reality neither a student nor a trainee. He came to work and earn to support his wife, three children and a jobless uncle who lives with the family.

Jesus is Alive

A MISSIONARY died recently in Manila. This missionary was famous for two things -- his personal devotion to the Eucharist and his dedication to the poor. Here Fr. Al Schwartz reflects on how easy it is to believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist compared with believing that Christ is present in the poor. Yet both doctrines are central to our Catholic faith.

Let me give an example to illustrate how easy it is to believe Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, yet at the same time ignore His presence in the poor. Suppose for the sake of my illustration, someone – say a Satanist – broke open a tabernacle, stole a ciborium, went to the local dump-site, and threw the consecrated hosts on the garbage heap of the city. A believing Christian secretly witnesses this sacrilegious act. He runs to the chancery office and informs the bishops the bishops and his assistants. One can easily imagine what the creation would be. It would be one of outmost surprise, shock, and scandal. Most likely, one of the priests, or even bishop himself would the dump-site, gather up one by one the consecrated hosts from the mud, muck, and the garbage; brush them off, put then in sacred vessel, and then return them to the to the tabernacle of the Church. Probably, public prayers of reparation would be called for. The story of the incident would be written up at great length in the Catholic press. People would read the account with horror, shake their heads and wonder what this world was coming to.

Thai Tales

By Sr. Teresa Joy F. Balais, DC

Ordinarily I walk from the Language School to our apartment after class. But one Friday, I was so in a hurry to reach home that I decided to take a public bus.

All the seats were already taken. I had not got a firm footing when suddenly the bus pulled up. Losing my balance, I fell sideways on the man sitting at my left, brushing his head briskly with my hand during the impact.

Burn Out

A Special Seminar for Balikbayan Missionaries

By Fr. Leonardo Mercado, SVD

Missionaries have the temptation to overwork -- add to that the shock of a new culture and maybe a new diet and climate and you have the perfect formula for BURN OUT. The Divine Word Missionaries are trying to do something about this. They offer a special program for Balikbayan Missionaries several times a year at their retreat house in Tagaytay City. Here we have some of the comments or returning Filipino missionaries who have done this one-week seminar organized especially for them.
  • The seminar was truly an answer to a prayer: the solution to the alienation of a returning Filipino missioner.
  • One important feature is the sharing of mission experiences, especially our woundedness and frustrations.

Nomads No More

By Sr. Rebecca G. Macugay, MM

Cecilia Wanjiku, at trainer with whom I work in the community Based Health Program in our parish, was just wrapping up the morning lessons on immunization of children when the rain clouds hovering above the halakesa tree (a variety of thorn tree) where training seminars were held released a gentle rain. Abashira, one of the community health worker trainees, directed us to her hut for cover. We huddled inside her “min”. (The min is the name of the small Orma house made of long thin poles bent to form an igloo-shaped structure, covered with palm and other kinds of grass and held together by colorfully dyed strips of bark). Abashira gave us an update in her home visiting activities. These seminars-under-the-tree or in a make-shift “min” are a recently developed feature of our health ministry.

Nothing to Lose

By Fr. Ignacio de Moreta, SJ

IGNACIO DE MORETA is one of 15 brothers and sisters. He was born in Manila (mother from Goa, Camarines Sur). His first mission was a twelve-year stint in Culion Leper Colony in Palawan – “That’s where I learned to be in a missionary.” Needless to say, that was quite exhausting. He was glad of a period in Venezuela. From there came the call to Ecuador where many priests had left the ministry. So it is from Equador now he writes to us and shares how the church is struggling to alleviate the poor. Ignacio has four brother priests and two (Assumption) sisters here in the Philippines.

Like in so many countries in Latin America, the Church in Ecuador must grapple with the problem of poverty. The Lord, of course, calls us to a simple lifestyle but that is far from the destitution that we see in Ecuador. This destitution cries out in heaven. We have in our own way tried to become a voice for the people. What we did was to set up a Foundation to help the poor in the suburban areas.

Our Name is Legion

By Nelda Natividad

NELDA NATIVIDAD is a member of that extraordinary apostolate: The Legion of Mary whose members believe that through the gentleness and tenderness of Mary the world can be brought to healing in Christ.

My job in the Tourist Hotel had afforded me the opportunity to meet missionaries who passed through Madang and my favorite query to them was. Do you have the Legion of Mary in your area?” Thus if they answered in the affirmative, we immediately has a mutual subject to share. If the Legion of Mary was still not existing then briefly I introduced myself as a Legionary from the Philippines and an Incola Mariae here in Madang. As such, I could help in organizing units. Once won over, I would furnish the Priest with the Legion Handbook, a translated edition in Pidgin. I have enough Legion of Mary handouts handy in my desk for this purpose.

Return to the Early Church

By Hector Pascua

This is am extraordinary and beautiful story of how a young Filipino lay theologian is administering a parish in Austria. It opens up what a wonderful role awaits the Filipino Church on the day we wake up and hear the call.

I am Hector Pascua, journalist and theologian, working in a parish in Austria. The Diocese of Vienna assigned me to a parish where there is no priest. Presently I am working in the publication of the first bi-monthly magazine for the Filipinos in Austria called Mabuhay ang Filipino.

Spring Water in Barren Hills

By Sr. Teresita Bernad, SSC

Huavina, one of a cluster of small pueblos among the hills of Iquique in Chile, never had a source of water. Water was brought to them by truck.


One day they got electrifying news: a spring had been discovered in one of the valleys. If channeled it could bring water to Huavina. So the people started to work at once, and of course, they had to begin with a blessing. They invite Sr. Kathleen, who in turn brought Sonia (one of the our co-workers) and me along.

The Roof Sleepers

By Bro. Raul, FC

Pakistan is a country of extreme temperatures from fabulous snow up to a scorching 50 degree centigrade. Bro. Raul, FC tells us how he had and his companions manage to survive away from the Philippines.

On the Roof

Its summers time again in Pakistan. Since the heat and humidity make our room like and oven, we sleep on the rooftop. Nowadays we (brothers and novices) call ourselves “Sleepers on the Roof”. I enjoy being with my brothers and novices on the roof. When we are all on the rooftop we support one another and laugh together at this terrible summer. Its’ not easy though, but life must go on. We have to wake up early, so our prayers, studies and apostolate. We take a long rest after lunch. Nobody can go out at noontime when the temperature is almost fifty degrees centigrade!

They Make a Desert and We Call it Peace

By Sr. Juana Ma. Rivera, OSB

THE BENEDICTINE SISTERS have two foundations in Angola: One in Luanda and one in Menongue. The one in Menongue has a clinic where Sr. Juana Ma. Rivera, OSB found herself in the middle of civil war between the Angolan government and the Unita Rebels.

Would I see my native land again?

So bad was our situation that I thought I would never see my native land, the Philippines, again nor could I even imagine being at home for Christmas, united with my Sisters and with my family. But the grace of God gave us the courage to face the horrible bombings and made us persevere in our mission with the Angolan people as we tried to give hope to the hopeless, I can’t find the words to describe what we underwent during the nine months if isolation, but I will try to remember what and how it happened.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

Royal Taster

Fr. Augustine Villanueva, SVD from Baguio City, and our Acting Provincial Superior stopped at Kintampo. During breakfast, we were not sure whether the cheese was still good or not. “Let me taste it first,” I asked. I took first one piece, then another bigger piece, to which Gus remarked, “And what is that second piece for?” “The first is to taste it; the second is to confirm it.” Seeing how much the cheese had diminished, he raised an unbelieving eyebrow.