Misyon Online - November-December 2011

Pulong ng Editor

Angie Escarsa is a Columban Lay Missionary from the Diocese of Iba, Zambales, and is assigned to Ireland.

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Columban priest John Boles
Columban priest John Boles defends his church during September disturbances in Chile.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

By Fr G. Chris Saenz

Father Saenz, ordained in 2000, is from Omaha, Nebraska, USA, where the Columban headquarters in that country are located. He spent part of his formation period in the Philippines.

I’ve learned that mission is one step forward and two steps back. This insight hit me on the night of 11 September in our Columban Parish of Santo Tomás Apóstol in La Pintana, an area in the southern part of Santiago de Chile. At 2am I received a frantic call from our parish coordinator, Elizabeth, screaming and crying, ‘Father!

Night at the Riots

Fr John Boles is from England and is currently Rector of Student Formation and Parish Priest of Santo Tomás Parish in Santiago, Chile. He belongs to the Columban Region of Peru.Fr Chris Saenz describes in this issue the 2011 riot in La Pintana. Here Fr Boles describes last year’s.

Ever think you might get tear-gassed? Here are a few survival tips: Have a wet handkerchief or surgical mask handy, to cover your nose and mouth; smear a little toothpaste under your eyes - it helps; don’t rub your eyes after being gassed, it’s better to let them stream; once you’ve reached safety, suck a lemon.

Celebrating Christ in the Mountains of Ifugao

Fr Gil Rochar Pancho-Dulay, SVD

The author, an SVD priest ordained in December 2008, is from Baybay, Bulan Sorsogon. He is currently parish priest of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Salegseg, Balbalan, Kalinga, and director of St Theresita’s School there. Here he tells of his experience when he was assigned to the Mountain Province.

Gil Rochar P. Dulay

The thought of the Cordilleras haunted me through my childhood and seminary days, even though one of my motives for joining the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) was to be assigned to a foreign mission. Before ordination we were asked to write our preferred countries of assignment. I wrote Mexico as my first choice, China as my second and lastly, the Philippines. I hadn’t specified any of the three SVD provinces in the Philippines but our prefect insisted I do so, in case my other first two choices would not materialize. Mesmerized and enchanted by the beauty and culture of the Cordilleras, I immediately wrote ‘Northern Province’. It’s the place that captivated my adventurous spirit one summer when I was assigned to Calanasan, Apayao.

Hope for Midsalip

By Mary Joy Rile

There can be no peace without equitable development; and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space. This shift is an idea whose time has come.
~ Wangari Maathai ~


Mindanao, Ang Yutang Gisaad, ‘The Land of Promise’ to its people. The many stories I grew up with – of the diverse natural beauty, the multi-cultural nature, the many stories of struggles, frustrations, hopes and successes – in that part of the country fed my curious mind and a longtime dream of landing on Mindanao soil. That dream was granted when Anne Gubuan, our assistant editor, and I reached Ozamiz City on 24 June, our first stop. We were to visit different areas where Columbans are present. And on 27 June I went to Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur.

The Lord of the Manger

Fr Vincent Busch

For the past ten years I have been working in a livelihood project with a group of Subanen artisans. Every year we design Christmas cards that simultaneously celebrate the story of God’s Creation and the story of God’s Incarnation. This year the Subanen artisans are carefully crafting images of Jesus in the manger within five ever-expanding settings from the tiny stable in Bethlehem to the vast heart of our spiraling Galaxy. While they craft cards, I have the task of crafting a reflection – with a lot of help from St Francis – about the meaning of their cards.

St Francis is credited with instituting the Christmas custom of setting up manger scenes in our homes and churches. The story goes that shortly before Christmas 1223 Francis encouraged the people of Greccio to reconstruct a manger scene in a cave near their town. He explained to the people: ‘If you want to celebrate the Feast of the Lord at Greccio, hurry and diligently prepare what I tell you. For I wish to recall to memory the little child who was born in Bethlehem. I want to set before our bodily eyes the hardship of his infant needs’. The manger scene touched the hearts of the people of Greccio and it continues to touch our hearts today.

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Immigrant Spouses Journeying Towards Employment

Necita or Cita, originally from Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Philippines, has a degree in Psychology. She joined the Columban Lay Mission orientation program in 2001. During her first and second mission terms in Korea she worked with the urban poor, based in a mission parish in Seoul. She facilitated liturgies and visited the elderly. She taught English to poor children and was also involved in Catholic scouting, which assists youth programs in the parish and in schools. After her sixth year as a Columban lay missionary she began to minister to multi-cultural families in Ganghwa Island. She writes about that here.

Necita A. Fetalvero
Cita (far right) and Fr Laurence Kettle OFMCap with some Filipino women married to Koreans.

Cita is now home for good after nine years of mission work in Korea. She left the Columban Lay Missionaries to look after her aging and ailing parents. Her father was paralyzed by a stroke 20 years ago and his condition deteriorated last year. Her mother is suffering from diabetes and is scheduled for an eye operation soon.

Providence and Google

By Fr Charles Duster

Fr Duster, from the USA, has worked in Japan and Fiji. During a visit to the Philippines in 1967 he and another Columban were to have traveled on a flight from Bacolod to Cebu on 6 July. Although slightly delayed because they had visited another Columban in hospital, they were still on time for checking in but they weren't allowed on board. The plane left early and crashed all 21 on board being killed.

Providence and Google
L to R: Rafael, John, Jorge, Gonzalo, Fr John Boles.

The ways of Providence are unusual and wonderful.

It started with a simple question over the dinner table at the Columban House on the north side of Chicago, ‘Rafa, what was your first contact with the Columban Fathers?’

Rafael (Rafa) Ramirez is a Columban seminarian from Chile who was completing a ten-month English language study program at De Paul University and returned to Chile in January 2010. He is continuing his theological studies at Catholic University, Santiago, in preparation for his first missionary assignment next year as a Columban missionary.


By Sr Ashwena Apao SSC

Sister Ashwena is a Columban Sister from Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, which has one of the oldest Spanish churches in Mindanao and was a Columban parish for many years. She gets her name from the fact that she was born on Ash Wednesday. Sister Ashwena is based in Myitkyina, northern Myanmar.

Myanmar WYD

This was the theme of World Youth Day (WYD) 2011, held recently in Madrid, Spain, in which 1.2 million persons participated. WYD was a time when young and not so young people from all over the world gathered together to pray and share experiences coming from within the cultural richness of each one. Everybody went with their own agenda, searching for truth, longing for a deeper meaning in their lives. Everybody wanted to encounter the truth of Jesus Christ, which they believed would set them free.