Misyon Online - January-February 2014

Salus Populi Romani, Protectress of the Roman People
St Mary Major Basilica, Rome [Wikipedia]

On New Year’s Day, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Pope Francis paid a visit to the image of the Madonna Salus Populi Romani, the Protectress of the Roman People, in the Basilica of St Mary Major, and prayed in silence. This was his third such visit since being elected Bishop of Rome last March.

The gospel on New Year’s Day tells us, ‘Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart’ (Luke 2:19, NAB). St Luke tells us in his account of the finding of Jesus in the Temple when he was 12, ‘He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart’ (Luke 2:51, NAB).

Little Self-Portrait, Rembrandt, c.1657

Professor Randy David in his Public Lives column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 28 December wrote about ‘Selfies’.He writes: “While almost every painter of worth in every era has done a self-portrait, taking a selfie for sharing and liking cannot possibly compare with the experience of an artist pondering the moods, desires, and emotions evoked by the lines and contours of his own face. The selfie is pure self-absorption where the self-portrait could be self-analysis. What distinguishes one from the other is the superficiality to which much digital communication technology has lent itself’.

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Was God Alive in Estancia?

By Jimmy A. Badilla

In obedience to the call of the Church to spread the Good News, Neocatechumenal Communities all over the world initiated a ‘Great Mission’ during the recently ended Year of Faith - reaching out to as many people as possible and hoping to share the love and mercy of God that they themselves have experienced in their lives thereby offering hope and salvation to the desolate, the forsaken, the downtrodden. Yolanda victims need the love of God more than all the material things that many of us want to comfort them with. It is good, proper, and just that we give them whatever relief items we can afford, but above all as Christians we are called to let them feel how God works in our sufferings, how He wants to be with us as we agonize and bear our burdens, how He wants to give us hope and invite us to believe that after all ‘Man does not live by bread alone but by the words that come from the mouth of God’. Popular Missions of the Neocatechumenal Communities in various typhoon-hit places in the Philippines are ongoing.

Estancia, Iloilo, is the Tacloban of Western Visayas. People died. Houses and properties were destroyed. The future seemed bleak and uncertain as no immediate chance at normalcy could be gleaned, except some reported plans from Canadians and other foreign groups to give sustained support for rehabilitation to those severely affected by Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda. And the Philippine Government's usual promises that yet await concrete results.

This is what I ask of you. Be shepherds with the smell of the sheep. POPE FRANCIS

Meanwhile, the people of Estancia needed to grab at any good thing that might come their way just to survive: food, used clothing, tarpaulin or thin roofing--anything that could help them try and rebuild their lives once more. They need to move on. And they need people, too, to talk with them, feel their pain, their loss, their suffering. They need somebody to empathize with them. They need some shoulders to cry on to. They need to feel that God is alive through their fellow men.

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From a Blessing in Disguise to the Land of the Unexpected

By Fr Elmer M. Dula RCJ

Fr Elmer M. Dula of the Rogationists tells us how unplanned was his entering the seminary and then later on found himself embracing his vocation. Father Elmer continues his mission work as a parish priest in Papua New Guinea.

I believe that everything that has happened in my life is a blessing – successes, failures, joys and pain. They come in so many forms because of a God whose love for me and for the rest of mankind is infinite and boundless. It is by his grace that I became a missionary priest in a land I thought would only be in my dreams. Looking back on my formation years, I can only see that indeed, my missionary vocation has been a ‘blessing in disguise’.

In 1992 I was in fourth year high school. One day a classmate who was seriously considering the priesthood invited me to accompany him to our parish priest. He wanted to be an altar-server as his personal preparation for the seminary. I went with him I don’t know what he said to the priest but after his interview, the priest called for me. My immediate reaction was surprise, ‘Why me?’ I was only accompanying my friend. Out of respect I obliged and also became an altar-server.

Holy Spirit Seminary, Bomana, near Port Moresby
The Diocese of Alotau-Sideia is part of the ecclesiastical province of Port Moresby.

We were the oldest in the group. Our companions were grade six students and first year high school students. I was a bit embarrassed but for friendship’s sake continued serving at the Holy Mass for the rest of our high school days. My friend also invited me to join him for a ‘vocation orientation’ in Cebu City. Wow, an opportunity for me to leave Leyte and see other places. So I willingly accompanied my friend. He was seriously considering life in the seminary, while I was just looking for adventure. As the saying goes, ‘God writes straight with crooked lines’.

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What Yolanda has done

By Richelle Verdeprado

Shortly before Christmas the Assistant Editor and Editorial Assistant of Misyon, Anne Gubuan and Richelle Verdeprado, went to the island of Panay, west of Negros, and visited the municipalities of Sara and Estancia in the north-east of the island and the north-east of the province of Iloilo to help in the aftermath of Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

Last 8 November was supposed to be like any other day in the lives of Filipinos. For the children I was able to talk with on Friday 20 December, it was supposed to be another day of playing in the fields and along the shore and for some another day of learning at school.

But something happened that day that made these children hide under their beds and when their houses were destroyed, made them run as fast as they could to seek solace in the hills, in the houses of the well-off in their community and then in the evacuation centers. There was something not ordinary that day that has made the children tremble with fear, cry hard and then pray on their bended knees. That day typhoon Yolanda came in so fast and then left the country with unimaginable destruction and deaths. That day came and has left these children with awful memories.

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Philippine Conference in New Evangelization

By Fr John Keenan

The author is a Columban priest from Ireland who first came to the Philippines in 1966. Apart from a few years working in Britain he has been here since then. He is chaplain at Centro Escolar University, Manila.

Our Lady of Peñafrancia

To mark the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization, which ended on 24 November, the Solemnity of Christ the King, a very inspiring Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE), convened by Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, was held at the Pontifical University of Sto Tomas (UST), Manila, 16-18 October 2013.

Celebration of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, Dublin, Ireland, 2012

Located in the Quadricentennial Pavilion, an ultra modern arena with seating accommdation for some 6000 people on three raised terraces, it was indeed an awe-inspiring spectacle enhanced by colorful cinematic, light and sound effects. The altar on a raised colorful platform served as the focal point for the vast crowd of participants. Masterly planned and organized by some 60 people under the able leadership of Henrietta T. de Villa, former ambassador of the Philippines to the Holy See, it can serve as a model of conference planning for people anywhere in the world.

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Interview with Ms Salvacion Napano – Volunteer Prison Chaplain in Hong Kong

By Fr Pat Colgan

The author, from Northern Ireland, is a member of the General Council of the Columbans since September 2012 and based in Hong Kong. Ordained in 1994, he worked in Fiji before his present assignment.

Sally, can you tell us something about your childhood and your early involvement in the Church?

Father Pat and Sally

I was born in Guimaras, now an island province in the Western Visayas, on 14 September 1961. I am the fifth of eight siblings, five boys and three girls. My father was a rice farmer and my mom a busy housewife. Although our church was far away from the village, we always went, and I can remember dreaming about being a nun. I used to play at being one, dressing up in a veil!

Filipino Maids in Hong Kong Cope with Loneliness [Video produced by UCAN, an independent Catholic news service].

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Life as I Live it

By Claudette I. Galacgac

The author finished her Bachelor of Arts in English, major in Language at the University of South Eastern Philippines in Davao City. Claudette has been involved in campus journalism since high school. Here, she shared how reading an article in Misyon has touched her and has made her look back her experiences too.

Upon reading the article Dealing Positively with Life Despite Uncertainties (Misyon, September-October 2012), I could say that I have wasted my time grieving over silly and petty matters. Unlike the author, I don’t have a disability affecting any aspect of my life, only financial instability. Ric is a polio victim but he has managed to keep a positive outlook on life which has led him to where he is now. The story of his life somehow changed my perspective.

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When People Fall In Love

By ‘D.J.C.’

Our Hideaway is a venue for the youth to express themselves and to share with our readers their mind, their heart and their soul.

The author is a single young man, a guidance counselor.

I now recognize that love is the most wonderful thing of all. I know it sounds corny, but you may search the far corners of the universe and you won’t find anything more wonderful than love. And the only ones capable of loving are humans. That is what makes man so special and higher than all other earthly beings. Animals are capable only of producing and their ability to feel is restricted to physical pain only. They act from instinct. But we humans are gifted not only with the power of intellect but with susceptible emotions as well. This is why people have the tendency to become overwhelmingly attached and in turn it becomes awfully painful to become detached.

The Return of the Prodigal Son (detail), The Face of the Father
Rembrandt, c.1669 [Web Gallery of Art

As I go more deeply in my thoughts, I ask myself how much I know about love. What is it really? How does it affect people? Yet my sole purpose is to know why such a wonderful thing can turn into such unbearable pain. I grew up in a family where my parents often had misunderstandings that led to serious fights. Thus, my siblings and I lack the affection of a true and complete family. We became closer to our mother and ended up hating our father.

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