January-February 2003

Fr Chapman, A Man For Others

Fr Francis Chapman, born in Fremantle, Western Australia, in 1913, studied Theology in Ireland and was ordained there in 1937.  In 1938 he went with the first group of Columbans to Mindanao as pastor of Tangub, Misamis Occidental.  During the War years he stayed in the mountains with the people.  In 1950 he led the first group of Columbans to the southern part of Negros Occidental, an area that in 1988 became the Diocese of Kabankalan.

From 1954 Fr Frank worked in Australia and later served as Regional Director there.  He was a member of the General Council in Ireland from 1966 to 1970.  He then returned to Mindanao and did parish work in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.

Marathon Missionary

by the editor, Fr. Niall O'Brien

There are various ways to do mission – some true and tried, some original and creative. The following article tells of a missionary who is truly creative and indeed successful in his approach to mission. Read on.

The recent World Cup soccer finals in Korea and Japan have turned all minds in Asia to sport.  The Philippines unfortunately was not represented as football is not our thing but athletics are and that gets me to thinking of a certain person.  You probably have not heard his name.  When it comes to sport he is one of the most successful sports coaches in Negros and maybe the Philippines.  A couple of years ago his little group of athletes won 6 golds, 5 silvers and broke 2 national records at the National Open Track and Field Championship in Manila.  Many top class Asian athletes competed at these games.  So that made the victory all the sweeter.  It was a fitting climax to a string of successes over many years.

Fr. O'Halpin with young athletes during the Centennial Palarong Pambansa in Bacolod City

The Woman Who Made A Difference

The mission of Merly Hermoso

By Fr Shay Cullen SSC

One day, 28 years ago, I walked into a small dingy office in Manila to collect some documents and met someone who was to become a dedicated companion in mission and who helped change the history of the Philippines. Her name is Merly Ramirez Hermoso, a woman of extraordinary faith, courage and determination and who fulfilled a challenging and difficult mission for Jesus Christ.

Great events begin in small ways. In 1973, I was planning to set up a recovery center for the young people of Olangapo City so exploited by drug dealers, sex tourists and pedophiles. I wanted social workers of strong faith for this challenging mission, which I knew would be dangerous and difficult. There were few available during martial law when the military ruled the land with a cruel heart and jackboot tyranny. Merly Ramirez was the first to say yes. As a graduate in business studies, she was an unlikely candidate for a tough mission but I saw her courage as a sign from God.

Counting Heads In China

How many people actually live in China?  The usual answer is that the country is home to about one-sixth of the population of the world.  The census carried out recently, the first in ten years, may provide a more exact answer to the question.

Officially the population of the mainland is 1.25 billion people.  But some experts estimate that as many as 200 million people may not figure in the population statistics.  The main reason for this unknown segment of the population is related to the one-child policy that the government has enforced on couples for several years.  Failure to comply with this could bring a heavy fine or even confiscation of property.  A recent South China Morning Post article reports on one small farmer who was fined the equivalent of four months wages for breaching the regulations.

My Tiredness Faded Away

By Fr Elie Sangco MSP

The Missionary Society of the Philippines (MSP) was founded by the Philippine Bishops in response to the Pope’s appeal to send more missionaries abroad. Fr Elie Sangco is one of those who answered the Pope’s call and right after his ordination in 1999, he was sent to the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea, whose economy is reliant on mineral, forestry and agricultural exports, is at the moment facing some political unrest and missionaries like Fr Elie are just what the people need to keep their faith and courage going.

Nipike is a mountaintop village, composed of ten families, under the Diocese of Vanimo. I crossed rivers and hiked mountains to get there. It was a tough journey but when I reached the place and saw the lovely smiles on the faces of the people, my tiredness faded away.

A Poisoned Paradise

By: Eldred Willey

The Philippines has vast mineral wealth.  Western mining companies want to exploit it and in return offer money that is badly needed. But what is the cost to the people and the environment?  An aid worker went to find out.

Mindoro is one of the most beautiful islands of the Philippines.  And it looks as if it may stay that way.  Its people are currently celebrating an important victory against a mining company which was bidding to turn their ocean jewel into an open-cast pit.

Vengo Ya!

By Ariel Presbitero

“VENGO YA!” The taxi driver shouted to the man on the roadside. He said he would be right back as soon as he had finished his service with the present passenger. The man hoped that the driver would come back soon but he was not exactly sure how long he would have to wait.

Vengo Ya is a common expression in Peru. If you invite somebody to your house, he’s say Vengo ya! If somebody is leaving the house to do some errands, he will say Vengo ya! I really find it hard to understand the meaning of this expression. Often I get confused with its concept of time.

My Mission Impossible

By Fr David Buenaventura SDB

For seven years, Fr. David Buenaventura was a missionary priest in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Then the time came for him to serve his fellow Pinoys struggling to live in a country that is rich in everything except Christianity – Japan.

I was appointed parish priest for Filipinos living in the Catholic Diocese of Oita in January 1997. The appointment was the first of its kind in Japan. We have a good number of Filipino priests working in Japan, but no one had been appointed parish priest. My appointment was based on Canon 518, which talks about the Personal Parish. I didn’t have a convent or a parish church. When asked by my parishioners, “How come the other parish priests in the diocese have their own convents and churches while you, Father, don’t have?” I would tell them with pride: “This is so because your homes are my convents and each Filipino community is my church.”

I Was Blind And Now I See

By Karen Edmisten

The birth of a child sometimes makes all the difference in introducing us to the presence of God, at least it was so in the case of Karen and her husband Tom.

Some nights, after my daughters are asleep, I creep into their room and watch them.  It’s almost too much for me – their beauty, their peacefulness, their small, perfect limbs…

From The Streets They Cry Out To Us

By Sr. Marvie Misolas MM

Sr. Marvie

The number of homeless people all over the world is growing and Taiwan is no exception.  Shelters are being set up for these people as a temporary solution.  Maryknoll Sister Marvie Misolas, a native of Marikina, shares with us about a friendship she had with Ka-Li, one of the residents she met when she visited Taichung City Homeless Shelter established by the Taiwan government.

My Burden Is Light

By Wawel Mercado

I didn’t quite fathom the depth of our marriage vow until after almost a year of being married to my wife, Mila.  I met her at Basic Advertising where we were officemates.  Later on we became very good friends, and that friendship eventually paved the way for deeper affection.  We decided to get engaged.

Long before our marriage, Mila would go on yearly prayer retreats.  The year before we tied the knot, she wrote in her retreat journal her vision of family life which was very similar to mine: that our family would be like a small church, a community of love where, by loving our children, we could teach our children the love of God and bring them closer to the Father.

Hawking And The Ocean Of Truth

By Bryan Appleyard

Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned scientist, has become famous for his non-belief in God.  He is considered to be one of the most intelligent people in the scientific world.  Added to that he is severely disabled and heroic in his struggle against illness.  We publish here a surprising answer to his stand by one of his fellow scientists.  This article will not be of interest to all, but to a small number it may be a godsend.

The year I met Stephen Hawking was 1988.  I was to write a profile for a magazine to appear at the time his book, A Brief History of Time, was published.  That book was to make him globally famous.  But then he was not well-known outside scientific circles.  The big story was, of course, that here was this brilliant physicist and cosmologist whose motor neuron disease confined him to a wheelchair and forced him to speak through a computer.  His wrecked body contrasted poignantly with his star-traveling imagination.

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By Sherbien Dacalanio

I have always been so confused and so full of endless questions. Why have I been born? What’s my purpose in life? I always thought that my life was worthless. I wished I was never born. When I’m alone, the call of death always lingered in my mind. And it became worse to the point that deep inside my mind I started questioning God. If He is a merciful God, then why did He create hell for sinners? Why did He care enough to create us and then let us suffer if we commit sin? Why did He give us free will and when we fail we are damned? Isn’t he making remote controlled objects out of us?