January-February 2004

When Suffering Seems Like A Song

By Malyne G. Nim

Photo by Benjo Rulona

I am a psychologist and consultant trainer, wife to my best friend, Arli, mother of Bea and Gioia. In September 2000, I concluded a training program with workers of the evacuation centers in Mindanao as part of a project with an international agency. Because of the success of this project, I was given a new assignment in another war-torn country. My bags were packed, my ticket confirmed. Then...I had a visitor.

Be Faithful To Who You Are

by Bo Sanchez

Let me share with you a simple secret about succeeding in life.Don’t ever try to please everyone.

I’ve been a leader of Catholic organizations for two decades now. If I tried to live up to all the expectations that people heap on me, I’d need to be Padre Pio and Bill Gates and Francis of Assisi and John Rockefeller and Clark Kent rolled into one.

Talk about severe schizophrenia!

Some want me to be Padre Pio: ‘Bo, your early morning prayer time – done at four - should last for three hours. You should levitate once in a while. When you walk around, we should smell the odor of sanctity and see a beautiful glow on your face.’ Jeepers, I have some type of odor, I know. But I doubt if it’s sacred. (Spell out my name. Remind you of something?)

Others want me to be Bill Gates, the great CEO: ‘As our leader, you should manage a well-knit, well-run, well-oiled organization. You should implement reengineering, develop our marketing niche, and work towards ISO 9002 systems in our prayer group.’

Others want me to be St Francis of Assisi, the ascetic: ‘Bo, you should live in poverty, wear second-hand clothes, and never touch or own or think of money at all. Drive a beat up, rusty, dilapidated car. And live in a squatter area.’

And yet another group of people insist that I be John Rockefeller, the philanthropist: ‘When we have financial needs, it’ll be nice if we see you dig deep into your pocket and help us with our children’s tuition fees, our hospital bills, our shopping sprees.’

Only If You Keep Believing

By Aurora Cañete Luceño

I first came to Pakistan as a Columban lay missionary in 1994 with two other women. We were the third team from the Philippines in the Columban L ay Missionary Program (CLMP) and were nicknamed ‘RP3’.  Pakistan wasn’t my personal choice but when I applied I was prepared to go anywhere on mission. I lived and worked with my team during our nine months of orientation, also a time of discernment. I came to know more about myself, my faith and working with others. I opened up to a new perspective on life and the call to mission. During orientation we were made to see some of the realities, challenges and even dangers that a missionary may have to face.

We Had To Let Her Go

By Estefanio Argall Luceño

To be the father of the Columban lay missionary is indeed a rare privilege. I consider it precious gift from God.

Auring and Sr Mary Judith Madeleine with their parents on their Golden Wedding Day

My daughter, Aurora C. Luceño, a civil engineer by profession, was enjoying a well-paying job and a promising career in the Department of Interior and Local Government before being sent to the Columban Lay Mission Program (CLMP) she took part in the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program, which gave her a chance to visit different Asian countries, including Japan, as a goodwill ambassador of youth.

Three Historic Days For The Church In Mongolia

By Serge Patrick Mondomobe CICM

The first Catholic mission in Mongolia in modern times was opened in 1992. The leader of the first three missionaries, Father Wenceslao S. Padilla CICM, from La Union, became the first ever bishop in Mongolia on August 29, ordained in the newly built cathedral in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, that was consecrated the following day. Father Patrick, the author, is from Cameroon.

A bishop needs a cathedral but you need to have a bishop to bless a cathedral. The Church in Mongolia had neither. The Vatican decided a bishop should come first, with a cathedral the following day. Jan Pieter Cardinal Schotte CICM, the Belgian Secretary of the Roman Curia, pointed out a few days before the ordination of his Filipino confrere, Monsignor Wenceslao Padilla CICM, as the first ever bishop in Mongolia that it would be a miracle if the church were ready for that event. The cardinal didn’t seem reassured by the words of the architect that it would. The bishop-elect remained calm.

How My Family Welcomes The New Year

By Father Cireneo Matulac SSC

Father Cireneo ‘Dodong’ Matulac was ordained priest in his native Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay, on 28 December 2002. He’s been working in Pagadian cathedral parish since then but headed for China in January 2004. Here he tells us how his family welcomes the New Year.

There’s growing excitement in our family as we prepare for the New Year’s celebration. My brother has just left for the población to buy ice cream, the only time we have it, a real New Year’s treat. I feel that this New Year’s celebration will be different. My mother has insisted on baking rice cakes which she hadn’t done for years. My two sisters are preparing their favorite dish and my other brother is preparing his usual pork and chicken barbecue. My family has certainly become a lot bigger. I now have seventeen nephews and nieces, the oldest in his early twenties, and all of them are extremely excited. I’ve heard the younger ones say, ‘Uncle will celebrate Mass for the New Year in Lola’s house.’

The Forgotten People

By Beatriz T. Millena

Betty, a midwife by profession, is from the Diocese of Digos in Mindanao. She joined the PIME lay mission program two years ago. She was sent to Cambodia, a Buddhist country, in 2001 to work with HIV/AIDS patients in Phnom Penh, the capital. She tells us about the sad reality brought by this epidemic to the people of Cambodia.

What I had in mind when I left for Cambodia was that I would be involved with community development projects, similar to what I was doing back in the Philippines. I never expected that of all kinds of ministry, I'd up working with HIV/AIDS patients. I wanted to back out. I was scared and I told myself, ‘I won’t do this work.’


The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Cambodia is one of the most serious in Asia. Of their 13.4 million population, 3.2% of adults are infected with the HIV virus that often leads to AIDS. 100 new infections occur everyday with a total of 35,000 over the last year; 2.6 % of pregnant women are HIV infected. It is estimated that 3,500 HIV-positive babies will be born each year if nothing would be done about this.

War against AIDS

The government established a program called Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) almost three years ago in a limited number of hospitals with help from international NGOs and some local organizations. It also did research on the anti retro virus medicine called Nevirapine. The researchers found out that this tablet can prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to child -- 95% of cases. Pregnant mothers infected with HIV should take one tablet of Nevirapine during labor period and also give the baby one dose 72 hours after birth. But breastfeeding increases the risk of transmission from 5% to 32%.

In PNG, We Travel By Dinghy

By Sister Maria Divina MC

…Be with us Mary along   the way guide every step we take, lead us to Jesus, your loving Son. Come with us Mary, come…

We all smile as our pre-school children, from different denominations, sing with their angelic voices the hymn to Our Lady. I believe Our Lady is smiling too as she listens to their innocent prayer. Their song gives me hope and joy, that indeed we all have a great Mother who never forgets us.

Letting God's Light Shine Through

By Sister Nellie Zarraga ICM

Sr Nellie, 2nd from the left, and Bishop Wens Padilla, far right, with friends outside a ger

Sr Nellie, an ICM Sister in Mongolia, attended the ordination of Fr Wens Padilla as the first bishop in Mongolia which took place in the newly constructed Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in the western part of Uaanbaatar. The beauty of the stained glass windows caught here attention and reminded her of the work of the missionaries in the country.


By Rebecca C. Costales 

One of my friends came for a visit and, over lunch, we talked about our lives.  He mentioned that people at his office didn’t seem to know right from wrong. In truth, we live in an age where people’s concept of rightness is based on ‘Everyone’s doing it, so it must be right.’