November-December 2003

Lost In Paradise

By Father Nilo R Resco MSP

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Solomon Islands were used as a source of slave laborers to work in the sugar plantations of Fiji and Australia. The archipelago became independent in July 1978. Two years ago Father Nilo was assigned to these beautiful islands. He tells us below about his missionary adventures.

I glance at the wall clock and it’s already 11pm but I don’t feel like sleeping. I open my window, trying to get some fresh air and smell the newly mown grass gleaming in the moonlight. The deep calm of the mission station is disturbed by the occasional howling of wild dogs in the nearby bush and the incessant chirping of crickets. In a few moments a great calm settles over everything. All feels silent. I feel silent within myself too. This setting, surrounded by nature and stillness, has something extraordinary about it. I rise from my rickety bed, go to my writing table where scribbled notes that have been lying unnoticed for days catch my attention, my reflections, written during my first four months in the station. I’m tempted to read them again.

I Met St Joseph In Manila

By Columba Chang

There may be as many as 7 million Filipino overseas workers spread all over the world. They greatly help our country’s economy by the money they send home. However sometimes we seem to take them for granted, thinking that they have an easy life abroad. Read Aling Maria’s story below and find out the dangers our OFWs face and the abuses they experience. We thank ‘Mang Pepe’ for his help in writing this article in which we’ve changed the names.

A Change Of Plan

Father Bill Morton, from Philadelphia, USA, was an air traffic controller. But for several years now he has been on mission in El Paso on the Mexican/US border as a Columban missionary priest. In this interview, he tells us how that happened.

Q: What’s your family background?

Father Bill: I was born into a large Catholic family in Philadelphia in 1952. Frequent discussion about faith, politics and social issues around the dinner table, regular attendance at Sunday Mass and recitation of the family rosary were buttressed by lived values of hospitality to anyone who came to our door. After high school, I enlisted in the Navy and qualified as an air traffic controller.

Q: Was it a stressful job?

A Diamond From Bicol

By Sister Angelita Roferos SSpS

Sister Walfridis SSpS, born Gertrud Walter, is a rare diamond in more than one sense. She is a German-Filipina. Her father, Eugene, was from German and her mother, Felisa Ebio, from Bacon, Sorsogon, where she was born on November 15, 1915. When Gertrud entered the Mission Congregation of the Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit 25 years later she took the name ‘Walfridis.’

The Joy Of Christmas

By Sister Tammy Saberon SSC

Most of us spend Christmas at home with our family and friends.  But Sister Tammy has spent this special season these last two years far from home in Myanmar.  Here she tells us how she celebrated Christmas in this Buddhist country.

Myanmar, formerly Burma, is a Buddhist country, but Myitkyina (MIJ-in-awe) Diocese has the largest population of Catholics.  When I came here in 2001 I lived in the small village of Edin.  My first Christmas was quite different from what I was familiar with.  Carol singers went from house to house to raise funds, like at home, but I didn’t see any Christmas decorations in Catholic homes before or after Christmas.  The only ones to put them up were the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMMs), with whom I lived, who did so only three days before the feast.  The catechetical school’s chapel also had some decorations, including a crib.

Serving The One Percent

By Sister Leticia Saraza OSB

Bulgaria is one of the Balkan states in southeast Europe.  It has had a turbulent history because of the constant power struggles in the region for more than 1,000 years.  These prevailed not only in the political sphere but also in the ecclesiastical domain.

As a result of the great Eastern Schism between Constantinople and Rome in the 11th century, the Church in Bulgaria today is predominantly Orthodox with loyalty to the Patriarch of Bulgaria rather than to the Pope in Rome.  Roman Catholics comprise less than one percent of the population.

She Welcomed Me In Their Home

By Father Cireneo Matulac SSC

Father Cireneo is a recently ordained Columban priest.  He spent two years in Chile as part of his first missionary assignment.  Below he shares with us a story of a little girl he came to know in a barrio in Chile.

It was the beginning of fall in southern Chile.  I was visiting families I knew in Puerto Saavedra, especially those of the children I’d taught catechism a few months previously.  While walking from house to house in the barrio, I recognized this little girl of about seven from my catechism class.  She recognized me too and greeted me.  She welcomed me into her home, a small shack, which I hadn’t visited before.  It was fortunate that I came then because I was looking for shelter from the cold rain that was beginning to pour down.

At the center the fire was lit.  I sat in the corner trying to warm myself.  The cold wind entered through the gaps in the wooden wall.  There was no wooden floor.  The floor was of hardened soil.  In another room I saw a big bed in which, I reckoned, the whole family slept.

And Then, I Saw The Whole World

By Sister Concepcion Madduma ICM

Over two decades ago, Sr Ching Madduma got a scholarship to the University of the Philippines to pioneer studies for people with mental disabilities. Little did she realize that she was entering the world of people who lived in shadows. And that became her mission.

The great country of India accepted me twenty five years ago to serve the people who live ‘in a world of shadows.’ I see my mission as bringing light, love and knowledge to them so that they can live their lives fully and walk with faith and dignity.

In order to mold each individual we need special education. The Lord gave me the talent to present this special education to persons with intellectual disabilities in some 45 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific.

As a member of the Special Education Team I present the programs with Fr Adam B Gudalefsky, a Maryknoll Missioner in Hong Kong, to people. Our programs are non-institutional and non-professional. They are centered on home schooling and parents are the primary educators. The educational approach is holistic.

Remember Me…

…when I’m gone, gone farther away,
To the land where you can no longer hold my hand

By Angelica Escarsa

Angie has been living in Ireland for more than four years now as a Columban lay missionary. Last year she lost two of her loved ones and here she shares with us how she and her family grieved and let go.

2002 was a traumatic year for our family. In August 2001 I was on retreat in Cork, Ireland, where I had gone with the Columban Lay Missionary Program (CLMP) in 1999. I was discerning about the future, as my three-year term was coming to an end. I was about to sleep when my sister Mercy phoned from home in Zambales. She cried as she told me that our sister, Deborah, had lupus. This rare disease is incurable and even led to the death of Ferdinand Marcos, former president of our country.

A venue for the youth to express themselves and to share with our readers their mind, their heart and their soul. We are inviting you – students and young professionals – to drop by Our Hideaway and let us know how you are doing.

CONVERSATIONS WITH KAYE

By Stephen V Tabal

One Sunday in April 2001, I encountered Kaye (not her real name). To my surprise, I realized we’d already met during a youth camp conducted by Youth for Christ. YFC is a group of young Christians who aim to be role models for their peers. At first I had negative vibrations about Kaye because she was so restless and full of bad words every time she spoke. But I was struck by the mystery that lay beneath her eyes.

First impressions don’t last

Months later our paths crossed again in a fellowship in the YFC and we had a chance to chat and share part of our lives. That simple chat was just the beginning of deeper conversations each time we met. One time as we shared, I touched on the topic of family; Kaye suddenly went completely silent and then the tears came. I couldn’t believe that this friend of mine was from a broken family.

Her own story

At a young age she was brought by her mom from one relative to another. Her mom didn’t want to take care of her daughter and finally left Kaye with a close relative in Lanao del Norte. Kaye learned her ABC’s and grew up, not in her mother’s arms, but in those of her tito and tita. The shocking thing is that until now, 19 long years, she hasn’t seen her father. But the good news is that her mother is just 60 kilometers away. However, when they first met again a few years ago, Kaye was just a high school student and not yet ready to face her mom. So it resulted in a telenovela-like scene, her mom calling her ‘anak’ and Kaye denying the existence of her long lost mom.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

PO Box 23, Nsawkaw, B/A, GHANA

Roam Sweet Rome

Nung minsan na nag-aral ako sa Rome, nakalimutan kong may klase ako. Mabuti na lang at tinawag ako ng aking kaklase. Pagpasok ko sa classroom namin halos di maipinta ang mga mukha ng aking mga kaklase. Kaya agad kong sinabi, ‘Aba, ang aga n’yo yatang dumating?’ sabay tingin ko sa aking relo. Aba, lalo silang sumimangot?!