March-April 2003

Floods And Snow

By Sister Victoria Lerin FMM

Floods were three meters deep after four days of ceaseless rain in Santiago, the capital of Chile, in June 2002. The worst hit areas were poorer sections of the city and nearby farms. Eleven people died and many suffered from diseases the floods brought in their wake. Farmers lost livestock.

A similar flood occurred in 1926, perhaps the worst in the country’s history. Chile has developed since then, much more in the cities than in remote rural areas. Those who buy the fine wines and fruit the country exports are probably unaware of the many poor people who live behind Santiago’s imposing commercial buildings. As a foreigner, I don’t understand the complexities of Chile’s business life but I don’t think that the well being of the people is an overriding priority of those engaged in ruthless competition for the world’s markets. The politics are like those at home – dirty. And the rich still get richer and the poor poorer.

Make The World A Lighter Place To Live In

By Fr Niall O’Brien

More than thirty years ago when I arrived first in the Philippines and was learning the language in Kabankalan I was called out one night on a sick call. A young man had been stabbed. I can’t remember now what I did. I suppose I anointed him. But I do remember that as soon as it was clear that he was dead, his brother cried out to the heavens with a terrifying voice swearing that he would have revenge. I was profoundly shocked. Maybe I wouldn’t have been if I had known a little more about my own ancient Celtic heritage. Now I know that in the pre-Christian Irish tradition and even many years after St. Patrick Christianized Ireland, revenge was considered almost a sacred obligation.

Photo: Benjo Rulona

Your Unfinished Song

By Fr James McCaslin SSC

I’m a Catholic priest. I love you. I see you from time to time in the hospital where you have gone for an abortion, not because you are selfish or bad, but because you are pregnant, afraid and unsure. “I have no other choice.”

Lest The World Become A Desert

By Kris Mina

Malate Church and parish community is in the heart of Manila. It is aware of the growing catastrophe being caused by the destruction of the environment all over the Philippines and all over the world. Part of its response is to set up the farming community called Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning (CELL), an hour’s drive from Manila. There in Cavite, Kris and Roberto Mina have done something wonderful to our eyes – they have created a beautiful world which the parishioners and diverse visitors are invited to experience and learn from. Below, Kris tells us about this extraordinary experiment in promoting God’s Kingdom in a novel and vital way.

We are into organic farming, but we do more than just farming. Our family lives and works in an ecological spirituality center, my husband Roberto and I being staff members. We are on land not our own, with an area of 1.2 hectares, a quarter of which is devoted to receiving visitors who stay for a day or overnight. They usually ask at the beginning of their stay, “Where is the farm?” They look for vast rice fields and rows of vegetables and cash crops, and we have nothing much of that. The kind of farming we do is PERMACULTURE, which encourages food to be grown and forest, animals and flowers.

Missionary On Horseback

By Fr Michael Doohan SSC

I have long been invited by Misyon to write my vocation story but I always had many excuses to delay it until one day I was cornered. The Misyon staff visited me at my convento in Cauyan, a three-hour journey from Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental. Obviously, I didn’t have much choice but to tell them my vocation story so their visit would not be in vain.

I grew up in County Clare, in the west of Ireland, with four brothers and five sisters. In a poor place like County Clare, farming was the basic livelihood of the people. Our parents taught us the meaning of hard work from an early age and saw to it that we all went to high school. There was only one bad word in our family and that was the word “lazy”. We all did our share – not while we were at school for we were expected to study then – but in the summer and during other holidays. All nine received a full secondary education with the exception of the eldest son, Patrick, who would run the farm.

Africa Still Beckons Me

By Fr Enrico Eusebio SJ

Nigeria is one of the largest and richest countries in Africa yet it has more problems than most. Its famous oil fields are in chaos and it has just emerged from a series of military dictatorships which were very destructive and corrosive. At present it is faced with an entirely new danger: many Muslim areas wish to introduce Sharia Law, the law based on the Koran, into daily life. Naturally the Christians are against this; for example a woman (not a man!) caught in adultery will be stoned to death. Being on mission in Nigeria today is no easy task though Fr Eusebio, in his story below, rightly looks on the bright side of life, as indeed a Christian should.

When I was a novice in 1986, the superior of the Jesuits in Thailand came to Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City. During one of our recreation nights he shared with us about missionary work in Thailand. He invited us and encouraged us to consider the foreign missions in the future. That night I didn’t think about foreign missions at all.

A Walk In The Forsaken Land

By Peter H Guevara

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Guevara, from Pampanga, is a soldier in the U.S. Army. At the height of America’s war against terrorism, Peter looks at the brighter side and here he shares with us how his experience as a soldier sent to Afghanistan changed him.

Army life is hectic at times and I was overdue a vacation. I arrived in Houston, Texas, two-and-a-half hours late to catch a connecting flight to Las Vegas. As I disembarked, it was hard to miss the masses of people huddled around the few television sets scattered around the airport.

I Thought God Didn’t Care

By Elena Ang

Since my childhood days I’d always dreamed of acquiring a college degree when I grew up and being a successful professional one day. By a twist of fate, I failed to realize it due to financial constraints. Mother left us for her final resting place when I was barely six years old. At the age of thirteen, I took the yoke of caring for my sick father and three siblings. Though financially drained, I insisted on finishing high school without my father’s approval. Painfully, I recall those times I was driven out of the classroom for failure to settle school financial obligations. I reported to class on an on-and-off basis. I used to leave the classroom with a heavy heart, tears rolling down my cheeks.

Playing the triple role of father, mother and big sister to three small boys wasn’t an easy game. Herding them to bed at night like motherless lambs, not knowing where to get their next meal the following day, shattered me into pieces deep inside. “If I could only provide them with better things in life,” I always told myself.

That Famous Struggle With Satan

By Fr Pat Sayles, SSC

After Jesus was baptized by John at the River Jordan he was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness. The arid area that stretches westward from the River Jordan towards Jerusalem, and southward by the Dead Sea, is known as the Wilderness of Judea. We can surmise that it was here, in the harsh desert of Judea, that Jesus contended with the power of Satan that sought to divert him from his mission.

The Columbans In The Philippines (1929-1950)

A book review by Fr John Schumacher SJ

Jesuit Fr Schumacher is a well-known historian of Philippine Church affairs. He has taken time out to do a review of the book: The Columbans in the Philippines (Vol. 1). It is a book which shows the extraordinary effect a small group of highly motivated missionaries can have, a book which gives encouragement to young Filipino missionaries setting out on the same task now to another countries.

Sound Of Silence

Perhaps you haven’t heard about the Trappistine Nuns in Mt. Matutum. They are a group of nuns who have chosen to live a life of frugality, simplicity and austerity, in a climate of silence and contemplation, away from city life. Thus, the Trappistines found their way to a beautiful cone-shaped volcano, Mt. Matutum, in South Cotabato, to build their first monastery in the Philippines.

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

CICM Missionaries in Manila prepared this service for peace in East Timor and in the southern Philippines. We have slightly adapted it. It is particularly suitable for Lent as we pray for the healing of our broken world and our broken country.  

All: (Please stand) Bless your people, Lord, who have walked too long in this night of pain. For the child has no more tears to cry, the old people no song of joy to sing, and the blood of your youth drains away in the gutters. The cry from the Cross is heard throughout the land. The pain in His nailed hands is carried by the worker. Terrible thirst is in the throat of the farmer. Too many women mourn the loss of their sons. And all the earth is turned into another Calvary. With your spirit, Father, we cry for peace. With your Spirit we struggle to be free. Bless us with the wisdom of our ancestors and the courage of our martyrs, that the resurrection of Jesus may be ours to claim and all people embrace the earth in the harmony of peace springing from justice. Amen.

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By Jun Daryl Zamora

A funny thing happened to me one afternoon in school. I was doing my usual school-garden work when my father, who is a teacher in our school, summoned me to do an errand.

While walking I was complaining. I had a headache and a cough at the time. My steps were heavy and my thoughts were as gray as the sky. But then I saw something that stirred my interest – the white-washed rocks that served as a boundary between an okra patch and the pathway. I knew it was unbecoming for a third year high school student like me to walk on them, doing his best not to lose his balance and fall, but I risked my poise in doing it anyway. At first I was really at ease. Then I stepped on an unsteady rock. It was round and it started to roll back and forth! Quickly I sought my balance, flinging my arms in the air. I knew there were people around me, and I was desperate not to fall! But…BLAG!

The Scandal Of Child Soldiers

Based on an article by Declan Fahy The Irish Times

Sierra Leone is a part of the world where children have suffered the worst forms of child exploitation, now a global issue. It had an estimated 6,000 child combatants during the war. A further 5,000 were used as forced labor in rebel camps. The war was fought from 1991 between government forces and armed groups, including the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC)

The Lost Oranges

By Sr Elinda Moron SSPS

Sr Elinda Moron

I am a missionary assigned to a village called Kindege, about 500 kms from Luanda, the capital city of Angola.  Only heavy-duty vehicles can reach Kindege.  Thank God, there are no land mines, only friendly people waving at us as we pass by.  In war-torn Angola, I have seen and felt God’s unconditional love, which goes beyond race, culture, age and gender.  The people of Kindege are very peace-loving, caring with a faith in God that can move mountains.  “Deus e grande” (God is great) is what they always utter in both painful and joyful situations.